Texas Army National Guard Private First Class Stephanie Hall didn’t know if she would walk after surviving a helicopter crash in Iraq last November. Not only did she do that, but she took the mound under her own strength to toss the ceremonial first pitch prior to a game during a tour of Minor League games in Texas during the month of July.
Hall and other Texas Army National Guard soldiers visited five Minor League baseball games during their tour, including stops at the Round Rock Express, San Antonio Missions, Midland RockHounds and Corpus Christi Hooks. Texas Army National Guard soldier involvement included throwing out the first pitch, presentation of colors and singing the National Anthem.
"We were extremely honored to have our Texas Army National Guard soldiers present during a game of America’s national pastime at a neighborhood ballpark to interact with the people of the Texas communities that we serve," Texas Army National Guard Lt. Col. Tracy Norris said.
Everybody in attendance at the Corpus Christi Hooks game July 28 witnessed a combined perfect game by three Hooks pitchers in their 3-0 victory against the Frisco RoughRiders. Texas Army National Guard soldiers were not needed for pitching duty.
To view a recap of all the games, please visit the website of the Texas Army National Guard.
I have been looking forward to taking this trip to Salt Lake City for a few weeks now and my first day here hasn’t been a disappointment. When I booked the trip I didn’t realize it was frowned upon to play baseball here on Sunday so I found myself with a free day, looking for something to blog about. Rest assured, I found it.
Since just about everything is closed in this city on Sunday, the concierge at the hotel suggested a 20-minute ride east through some stunning mountains to Park City, where many of the Winter Olympic events were held. So I hopped into my rent-a-car [The rental company screwed up my reservation so I got a Cadillac Deville instead of my Ford Taurus and I thoroughly enjoyed driving my pimp mobile] and headed East. What stunning vistas. I felt like I was in a John Ford western or walking into an Ansel Adams print. I can’t say enough about how remarkable the scenery was.
Upon reaching Park City, I was thrilled to find that it was a cool village, sort of a mix of Alpine and old west, with shops, some terrific restaurants and great art galleries. I bought the requisite amount of “el touristo” t-shirts and saw some great prints that I would have looked great in my home office. But the thought of my wife’s head exploding when I told her I dropped $3,500 on a painting just wasn’t worth the joy I’d get from looking at it every day.
After Park City I went to the Olympic Village and this was very cool. I got to ride the bobsled and let me tell you, it was physical. Rocketing down that course at 70 miles an hour, taking turns at four Gs and defying gravity was something else. The whole thing lasted only 59 seconds but it was thrilling and something I’ll never forget.
Nor will I forget zip-lining down the a mountain, my next adventure at the village. The ski jump used during the Olympics isn’t used during the summer months so you get to ride the lift to the top of the mountain where they strap you into a seated harness and let you go, rocketing down the mountain at ridiculous speeds, several hundred feet off the ground and with the wind blowing you every which way. What a thrill.
I’m here to see some good Minor League baseball – I’ll be traveling to Ogden and Orem and staying here in Salt Lake City this week. I’m looking forward to that but if you’re ever out here for the baseball, you’ll find there’s so much more. In fact, depending on how the week goes, Salt Lake City may bump San Diego and Denver off my favorite cities to visit for baseball list. Nothing still tops Montreal but this looks like it will comes close.
There is always a romantic feeling about going to a New Jersey Cardinals game. Maybe it’s the field of dreams setting in the foothills and the cornfeilds of northwestern New Jersey. Maybe it’s just being out of the way and not harried like I was last week driving Californial freeways trying to get to Stockton and Modesto. Or maybe it was the great meal and service I got at The Chatterbox across the street from the park. Who knows, but I really like it in Augusta having throroughly enjoyed my last two days here.
Let’s not kid ourselves about the baseball. It is low Class-A and last Tuesday night’s game was among the worst I’ve seen in a long time. But these guys are learning and that’s what this level is about. Plus, it’s just a fun time at the game.
Prior to the game, they made an announcement that no coolers, bottles ore weapons were allowed into the park. Guess I should’ve left my switchblade in teh car (just kidding). Anyway, the Cards put on an entertaining show in between innings with a giant eyeball race, similar to the sausage race in Milwaukee. I had the blue eyeball to place and he finished a distant third. So much for scouting reports.
The club also trots out a live cow in the middle of the sixth inning. Afater a grand introduction, the Rally Cow — a tradition up here — is brought onto the field to help spark the home team. Only problem, the cow was a bit temperamental Tuesday night and didn’t want to come out of its pen down in the left-field corner, so they cheered for it in absencia. It’s not the same, though, becuase the Cards, sans cow, couldn’t rally for the win.
Then in the seventh inning, I saw something I had never seen work before actually work. Lowell had runners on the corners with Mark Wagner on third and Dominic Ramos on first. Jeremy Zick was pitching. He faked a pickoff throw to third, then turned and fired to first to get the leaning Ramos. When does this annoying stunt ever work? Never until Tuesday night. This is what I mean about learning.
Finally, after the game, a horrifc thunder and lightning storm swept through the area. I was in the Cards office saying my goodbyes to the very helpful public relations staff and waiting out the rain when one of the employees burst in and uttered — get it, uttered — one of the best lines I’ve ever heard: "The cow is out in the open and is going to get hit by lightning. It itsn’t grounded."
Ah, we love the Cards.