For 93 seasons, Major League Baseball has put together two teams of the most popular and prestigious baseball players representing every team in the league. Two teams again gathered for this year’s MLB All-Star Game, but before the first pitch was thrown the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard (JAFCG) alongside drummers from The U.S. Air Force Band presented the colors on July 11, 2023, in Seattle, to honor the nation.
Much like the All-Star teams, the JAFCG is made up of service members representing all six military branches. These service members do not work together on a day-to-day basis, but they come together for events like this.
“It's an honor getting to work with some of the best and we are all the best at what we do for the color guard,” said Corporal Bryant O’Grady, U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard.
Opportunities like this not only allow this specialized honor guard team to represent their country and service but it allows them to learn from their counterparts in other branches.
“It's kind of cool to just see their side of the military,” said Specialist Derek Beasley, Continental Color Guard, 3d Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). “[We get to] see what they do and how their branches operate compared to the Army. So, I like picking their brain and learning about their branches.”
The MLB All-Star Game was Beasley’s first national-level mission with the JAFCG but not his first time working on a joint service mission.
“Before I joined the Continental Color Guard, I was part of just the regular honor guard,” said Beasley. “We also do a lot of joint missions [in Washington, D.C.]."
Joint service missions like this take teamwork and problem-solving skills to ensure they go off without a hitch.
Beasley said that when a problem arises, the team solves it together.
“If there are issues with flags or something like that, [or] if you're missing something, the other services will kind of pick up and help you out,” said Beasley. “So yeah, it's a team effort. Usually everything just works out.”
O’Grady credits his time in the Marine Corps for teaching him the leadership skills needed on missions like this.
“It's also pulled me out of my own comfort zone,” said O’Grady. “It definitely shows us how to work together as a team.”
While the JAFCG used the morning rehearsal to pull together and find their rhythm on field together, that does not mean they did not also have some time for fun at T-Mobile Park.
“Some of us have walked around the ballpark to try to interact with some of the players, get signatures and just hang out together all as a group,” said O’Grady.
Beasley said he is not the biggest baseball fan, but that did not stop him from trying to get some autographs.
“I was going to try to get some signatures for my cousin,” said Beasley. “That was what I was most excited for. He's a huge baseball fan.”
When O’Grady was asked what he was most looking forward to after presenting the colors, he had one response.
“We get to kick back and watch baseball in the greatest country alive,” said O’Grady.
And kick back they did. The JAFCG enjoyed the 3-hour and 3-minute game together as one team, representing one country.