LOS ANGELES -- Under sunny skies on a hot November Friday, Dodger Stadium hosted the seventh annual Veterans Day Batting Practice.More than 300 active and retired members of all branches of the U.S. military and their families were selected to participate in the event, hosted by the Dodgers Community Relations
LOS ANGELES -- Under sunny skies on a hot November Friday, Dodger Stadium hosted the seventh annual Veterans Day Batting Practice.
More than 300 active and retired members of all branches of the U.S. military and their families were selected to participate in the event, hosted by the Dodgers Community Relations department.
Former Dodgers Ron Cey, Billy Ashley and Dennis Powell were joined by current infielder Micah Johnson in throwing batting practice and working with the participants in the infield and outfield.
Tours were given of the underground batting cages used by the Dodgers and lunch was served in the Dugout Club.
"The Dodgers want to honor the men and women that serve our country, and not just the service people, but their family and loved ones," said Naomi Rodriguez, Dodgers vice president of external affairs.
"We want them to come here and have a great time, have a Dodger Dog. I mean, it's everyone's fantasy to hit a ball at Dodger Stadium. So we give them that opportunity to walk to home plate and take batting practice and have a great time."
From the looks on the faces, mission accomplished.
"We thank the Dodgers for allowing us to be here and supporting us," said Staff Sgt. John Mattias, liaison from the Army's Public Affairs Department.
"This event shows appreciation for not just active service members, but retirees and family members. It is a family career, profession and way of life. The Dodgers support us and have us at many events. The Military Hero of the Game is an honor. It is very humbling. It's an honor and privilege to serve our country."
Rodriguez said the Veterans Day Batting Practice is part of a relationship the club has with the military that includes the Hero of the Game salute the Dodgers hold during each home game, when an active or retired service member is honored.
"We do that every game and every time the crowd goes nuts," Rodriguez said. "Our fans appreciate those who serve our country. The Dodgers are part of the cultural fabric of Los Angeles. Part of that is living up to the community needs and making sure we are being a great partner in the community."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.