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Dodgers host BP for active military, veterans

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers paid tribute to Veterans Day on Wednesday by hosting 300 active-duty service members, as well as veterans and their families, for batting practice at Dodger Stadium.

Among former Dodgers players serving as hosts were special advisor Don Newcombe, a veteran of the Korean War, and Roy Gleason, believed to be the only former Major Leaguer who also was wounded while serving during the Vietnam War. Former Dodgers Billy Ashley and Al Downing also participated.

Among the veterans attending was Ret. Lt. Col. David Friend, a 95-year-old World War II veteran and member of the fabled Tuskegee Airmen.

"The players understand we're not as young as we used to be, but to give us the attention makes me feel happy," said Friend, who retired after 30 years of service. "I was particularly happy to see Don Newcombe. When I was going overseas, I saw him at a base in Virginia."

The Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard were represented at Wednesday's event.

"The Dodgers host Veterans Day every year as a way to thank our veterans for their contributions to our community and the nation," said Naomi Rodriguez, senior director of external affairs. "The Dodgers feel we're part of the cultural fabric, and there are many vets here, and it's important that we honor what they've done for us and the nation.

"There is definitely a nexus between baseball and the military, and it's beautiful. You see it with our former players and you see it on game day, when we honor a current or former military hero. Look into the crowd and you see everyone excited to acknowledge their service, and you see the players are excited, too. There is a kinship there, and it's important to us to continue that tradition."

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, working out by running up and down the stadium's aisles, took time out to pose for photos and chat with the vets.

"Sometimes you don't realize what they go through for us to keep us safe," said Jansen. "I believe at this moment, we have to take the time to salute them. If not for them, the world wouldn't be safe. With all the crazy stuff going on, these people make us safe."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for
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