Aug. 18, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
New York Mets legend David Wright took on the role of emcee for the 25th annual Battle of the Badges baseball game Thursday night at Citi Field that saw the FDNY defeat the NYPD 7-4. With the victory, the FDNY takes the series lead 13 wins, one more than the NYPD’s 12.
For Wright, being able to host this event presented a personal connection. In addition to his storied history with the Mets organization, his father, Rhon Wright, has spent decades as an officer for the Norfolk Police Department in Virginia.
“This means the world to me,” Wright said. “When I was a kid, every time my brothers and I would pass a police officer or firefighter, my dad would say ‘wave.’ I never really understood, until I got older, just what these men and women do for the community. It’s an honor to be here and a privilege to be here. I wanted to be here to say thank you to the brave men and women who put their lives on the line on a daily basis for the good of the community.”
Prior to the start of the game, Wright met with each team in their respective dugouts. He also spent time with them there during the game.
The Battle of the Badges was originally scheduled to take place on Aug. 10, but the game was postponed due to rain. Despite the postponement, Wright made sure to make the trip from his home in California to attend the event.
“It certainly wasn’t easy [to make this trip again], but when I say that I’m going to do something, I do it,” Wright said. “I wanted to make it happen for family ties, but also I really enjoyed getting to know all of the police officers and firefighters when I played and lived here. It’s my little way of saying thank you to them. And coming back to Citi Field brings back a lot of memories.”
According to NYPD officer and team manager Dennis O’Sullivan, the Battle of the Badges is something that the those who play in it always look forward to.
“It’s definitely a thrill for the guys,” O’Sullivan said. “Everyone grew up in and around the city playing in sandlots around here. It’s the thrill of a lifetime to get out on this field. And the best part is that charitable organizations are going to benefit from this.”
Portions of each $20 ticket sold, as well as concessions, for the Battle of the Badges will go to the Uninformed Firefighters Association New York City Widows and Children’s Fund, the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation, PBA Widows and Children’s Fund, the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and South Fork United Inc.
Many of the police officers and firefighters on each team have experience playing baseball professionally. Some played for their high school and/or college teams. There were even players who were drafted and ended up playing minor league baseball.
In addition to discussing the Battle of the Badges and its importance to him, Wright also commented on the recent retirement of friend and former teammate Daniel Murphy. Wright praised Murphy for playing well for the Los Angeles Angels’ Triple-A affiliate, where he competed against many players much younger and more athletic than him.
“I told him I couldn’t be more proud, because there is no way on God’s green earth that I could pick up a bat right now and hit .294 in Triple-A,” Wright said. “It’s amazing to think of what he did, having sat out of baseball for two or three years. He proved people wrong and played really well. That just shows the kind of player he is and the kind of work ethic that he has, to be able to go compete and excel against kids 15 years younger than him. As a friend and former teammate, I couldn’t be any more proud and happy for him.”