By Sgt. Steven Peterson, 2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO NCOICJune 30, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- The USO Fort Drum hosted Cy Young Award winner Vida Blue and former New York Yankee Tommy John on June 28 to boost the morale of Soldiers and Family Members.
The two major leaguers pitched in a softball game between 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment “Polar Bears” and 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment “Allons.” Both units belong to 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
The teams gathered on the field Tuesday morning to meet their pitchers. Blue pitched for 2-15 FA and John for 4-31 Infantry.
Before the game, Lt. Col. Robert Ryan, 4-31 Infantry commander, presented John with a baseball hat with the unit logo.
Soldiers had time before and after the game to meet with both baseball legends, who took time to autograph items for troops and thank them for their service.
The USO provided an all-female umpire staff, who admitted they didn’t know the rules of baseball.
“Some of the fielding calls were funny, but it was all for a good laugh,” said John.
Blue and John each pitched a great game, but in the end, the “Allons” came away victorious, winning the game by one run.
“I was asked to do this six months ago, and I couldn’t wait to come boost the morale of the Soldiers,” said Blue. “We have plans to help raise the Fort Drum USO $1 million.”
The USO announced that Vida Blue and Tommy John, along with two other unnamed baseball greats, were going on tour to help raise money for the local chapter.
Command Sgt. Maj. Benny Dobbs of 4-31 Infantry, and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven J. Rosales of 2-15 FA, gave Vida Blue and Tommy John signed photos of themselves and all of the Soldiers who played on their teams.
After the game, the USO provided pizza and cold drinks for players and spectators alike. They also gave away six concert tickets and a $50 gift card.
“The competition was strong today, but it was a change for the Soldiers to get out and play some ball with us,” said John. “I had a lot of fun spending time with the Soldiers of 2nd Brigade.”