Major League Baseball is taking a historic step to honor America’s military this Fourth of July weekend.
The Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins will square off on Sunday, not at either of their home stadiums, but at Fort Bragg army base and will be shown nationwide on “ESPN Sunday Night Baseball” as a way to say “thank you” to the troops, MLB.com reported.
Sunday marks the first regular-season professional contest of any sport that will be played on an active military base. The location is Fort Bragg, the United States Army installation in North Carolina, and the beautiful new 12,500-seat ballpark, Fort Bragg Field, that will host the game.
The Fort Bragg Game was created in a joint effort by MLB and the MLB Players Association to honor our nation’s servicemen and servicewomen. The first game of its kind is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Sunday and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, ESPN Radio and MLB.TV. Tickets are limited to military personnel.
“These military guys that we’re going to be around are the real heroes who give us an opportunity to do what we do every day,” Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “It truly is an honor to be able to be a part of something like this.”
“We try to do as much as we can, for the military, for our veterans,” Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, whose brother, Cameron is a Marine. “Just to give back for all they’ve given us. It’s special. It’s something a lot of the guys in here appreciate.”
The players were scheduled to arrive early on Sunday to tour the base and meet with the military members.
“I’m sure [the military members] will be excited to watch a ballgame on Sunday night on ESPN, but I think more than anything, we’ll be looking forward to spending the morning and afternoon hanging out with those guys,” Braves player Jeff Francoeur said.
“It’s just an honor to be with them. It’s not like they’re forced to go into [the military]. They make the decision to serve our country and be the backbone that keeps us safe,” he added.
“I think the excitement level is off the charts,” Marlins pitcher Mike Dunn said. “Everyone is extremely excited to go.”
The game put everything into perspective for Francoeur.
“We grind every day doing this and that and putting pressure on ourselves,” he told MLB.com. “Yet these guys have lost friends [in the battlefield]. We gripe about it being hot in Atlanta, and these guys are full suit running sprints and doing obstacle courses.
“There’s a humility and admiration for just what they do. It’s unbelievable when you see those Navy Seals out there. They could run circles around us. It’s just an honor to be around those guys and see what they do.”
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