ATLANTA -- For years, the Marlins have spanned the globe to show their support for those who serve in the United States military. Since 2010, the organization has sent contingents of players, team executives and employees to troops stationed around the world.
So without hesitation, the club jumped at the opportunity to do its part once again when Major League Baseball approached it about facing the Braves on Sunday for a groundbreaking game at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
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"We're incredibly honored to get to go to Fort Bragg," said Marlins president David Samson. "We've been talking about this for almost a year. With everything we do with the troops, with Military Monday, where military members get to come to our games, and we go overseas and visit the troops every year. We're the only team that actually does that every single year."
Sunday will mark the first time any major professional sport is played on an active U.S. military base.
Going the extra mile to honor the troops is nothing new for the Marlins. In the winter of 2010, the organization became the first United States-based professional sports team to send representatives to military bases stationed around the world.
In cooperation with Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE), the Marlins began their annual troop visits in January 2010, with their inaugural stops in Kuwait and Iraq.
The second troops trek took place in December 2010. Samson and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, a longtime special assistant for the club, were among the group that traveled to Southwest Asia and Germany.
"All we can do is go in and show our appreciation for what they do to protect and serve our country," Dawson said. "It was really a worthwhile cause, just to brighten their days and make it well known that we really and fully support every effort and every cause that's for the benefit of this country."
In recent years, the Marlins have also traveled to Oman, Qatar, Guam and Japan.
During one visit, Samson watched the Super Bowl on a military base halfway around the world from home.
Samson eagerly awaits the opportunity to be a part of the first game played on a military base in the United States.
"I love all the things we do [in Major League Baseball]," Samson said. "On Mother's Day and Father's Day, and Jackie Robinson Day, those are all critical days and holidays that should be celebrated. Bringing awareness to cancer -- breast cancer, prostate cancer -- I think that's all terrific.
"I think it's something on a completely different level when you're talking about our troops, when you're talking about the people who protect us and enable us to play baseball. That's what we do. We play a game, and we play it under the freedom that is afforded us by our military. So this is a whole different level for me."