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Inland Northwest MSBL 'Iron Pigs': Crushing Curveballs and Crime

 

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

The Inland Northwest MSBL is located in the Spokane area and also includes spots of Idaho to round out the field.  This league boasts 15 totals teams, comprised of 18-over and 35-over divisions.  Within the 35-over division lurks one of the most interesting teams in all of the MSBL family: Meet the Inland Northwest Iron Pigs.

The team was founded in 2010 and is made up entirely of players who call law enforcement a career. No, these guys aren’t just a novelty team that is merely happy to get away from the day to day tugs of being in that line of work.  They are competitive, and just happen to be very good.

They currently stand at 7-3 in the league with five league games remaining and finished in second place in 2015 while losing to the Tigers by a single run in the championship game. The Tigers have won the 35-over division the last six years running and are surely peeking in their rear view mirror lately.  The Iron Pigs are on the move!

Mike Gilden is the field manager for the Iron Pigs and Mark Nygren is their business manager.  Mark was kind enough to supply us with a brief history of the team.  The best way to convey what these guys are all about is to re-print Mark’s synopsis just the way he sent it.  Below you will find a bit more about these dedicated individuals, as in Mark’s words. Their motto says it all: ‘Crushing curveballs and crime, just not at the same time.’

Mission Statement

Community outreach and camaraderie while pursuing our love of the game of baseball, as well as to support the development of amateur athletes for national and international competition

Motto

"crushing curveballs and crime, just not at the same time"

Founded

April 4, 2010 by Mike Wall (no longer with team) and Justin Elliott

Vision/Goals

1. To have a sustainable team comprised of a core group of players who love playing baseball, love playing ball with each other, and love being Iron Pigs!

2. To be competitive!  We are here to have fun, but it is WAY more fun to win than to lose!

3. To push others in our league towards a higher level of professionalism and competition, by being the BEST in every aspect of operations (personnel, uniforms, equipment, sponsors, web presence, etc.)

4. To be ambassadors of law enforcement to our community by establishing relationships that allow others to see us as real people, not just a negative stereotype

5. To provide a great baseball experience to our team members and our fans, because when it is all over, it is the memories we have and the stories we tell that make us who we are.

Origin

Spokane County Deputy Sheriffs Mike Wall and Justin Elliott played for the Spokane Metro Sox in 2008 and 2009, but had a vision of a law enforcement team.  Our league requires teams to adopt the name of a Major League or Minor League team. Around the same time, Spokane’s own Ryne Sandberg (2B - Chicago Cubs – MLB Hall of Fame 2005) was manager of the Triple A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs of Allentown, PA, bringing the name Iron Pigs onto our local radar. Iron Pigs?! Seriously…how could there be any better name for a law enforcement team!

History

In 2010, we competed in the Western States Police & Fire Games in Reno, NV.  For league play, we competed in the INMBL Open Division from 2010 – 2012 as a middle of the pack team.  After three seasons there, coupled with the fact that most of us were over 35, we moved to the 35 + Division in 2013, combining with the 35+ Spokane Rangers. By making that move, we have been able to remain true to our vision of a law enforcement team, as well as become very competitive.

Last season (2015), we began with a non-league double-header vs. Walla Walla Police and Walla Walla Fire to get them tuned up for their big charity game against each other. We finished 2nd in league with a franchise best 12-6 record, losing a hard fought championship game 3-4.

Management

Mike Gilden (Field Manager), Justin Elliott (co-Field Manager), Mark Nygren (Business Manager) 

Mike Gilden, a Retail Marketing Manager, has been in the league for over 25 years.  He is a former league president, and was skipper of the Rangers when we combined.  Gilden is the perfect blend of temperament, tact, and baseball tactician.

Mark Nygren and Justin Elliott are both sergeants with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. Elliott is a phenomenal player and coach with a keen knowledge of baseball mechanics, fundamentals, and strategy.  Nygren, who is much better with a computer than a baseball bat, runs business operations, community relations, and produces all of the team promotional products (t-shirts, posters, baseball cards, etc.); allowing Gilden and Elliott to concentrate on managing games. 

Team

The core of the Iron Pigs are deputies with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office; both active and retired. Original Iron Pigs (still on the team) are Justin Elliott, Ken Scott, Kevin Richey and Mark Nygren. Our team currently includes officers of the Spokane Police Department and Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad Police. Our team also includes active duty military, as well as friends and family members of law enforcement. Ages range from 36 – 65. 65 year old Mike Murphey is a member is of the Inland Empire (Spokane) Softball Hall of Fame.

Support

Our families are our biggest supporters!

Nancy Murphey, wife of pitcher Mike Murphey is our faithful scorekeeper, who has embraced electronic score keeping with the GameChanger app.

Armed with her 35mm camera, Catie Nygren, 16 year old daughter of Mark Nygren, is our official photographer. A dancer, cheerleader, and softball player, and all around great kid, Catie will tell you she has an awesome summer job taking photos of her dad’s team.  Her work can be found on our website, Facebook page, and the Baseball Ninja photo she took in 2013 hangs on the wall in a local sports bar. 

We also have a wonderful group of loyal sponsors and business supporters that we call our "10th Man Support Team”.

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