By Brandon BieltzMay 31, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (May 31, 2012) -- On Sunday afternoon, retired Staff Sgt. Luis Rosa was where he never thought he'd be -- directly in front of the pitcher's mound of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, with a ball in his hand.
"It was pretty surreal," Rosa said. "You get to see the field from afar, but getting on it is different."
The Baltimore Orioles fan joined Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein in throwing the first pitch for the Orioles' Military Appreciation Day before their game against the Kansas City Royals.
Members of the Fort Meade community participated in the several events, including the singing of the National Anthem as several service members stood alongside the Orioles' starting lineup.
In addition to inviting Fort Meade service members to partake in the pregame, the Orioles also donated more than 1,000 tickets to the installation for service members and their families to watch the game.
While the event was a chance for service members to relax and enjoy themselves, Rothstein said it was also important to remember the purpose of Memorial Day. In observance of the national holiday, Orioles players donned new uniforms with camouflage numbers and script to honor service members.
"The importance of the day is that it is Memorial Day weekend," Rothstein said. "It's an opportunity to reflect on those who have fallen."
Members of the U.S. Army Drill Team opened the Military Appreciation Day events with a five-minute performance in the outfield that entertained the crowd and even caught the attention of Royals players Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, who were warming up by their dugout.
"It was really interesting to see the color guard and the honor guard doing their thing," said Spc. Jason Josephson of the 704th Military Intelligence Brigade.
Following the precision performance, Rothstein and Rosa took the field to toss the first pitch. Initially, Rothstein was supposed to make the pitch himself. But after he met Rosa, who lost both legs and an arm in Iraq, Rothstein invited him to help.
"As a good officer, I always need a better NCO," Rothstein said. "The sergeant helped me out."
Rosa threw the ball from in front of the mound to Rothstein, who was standing halfway to the plate. Rothstein then threw the ball over the plate to the Orioles' Jim Johnson.
"They didn't tell me when I was going to do that," Rosa said. "I've never done something like that before. It was pretty incredible."
After the pitch, the Military District of Washington Armed Forces Color Guard marched onto the field for the singing of the National Anthem by Staff Sgt. Randy Wight of the U.S. Army Field Band.
During the anthem, service members from Fort Meade joined the Orioles' starting lineup in the field. Josephson stood next to third baseman Wilson Betemit, who briefly talked to Josephson.
"It was pretty cool," Josephson said. "All the players were really respectful. Everybody was happy to see us there."
Josephson said he quickly noticed a size difference in what he expected the players to look like. On television, he said, the players look larger than life, but in actuality, Josephson was about as tall as many of the players.
"It's just different being on the field instead of sitting in the stands," he said.
Following the pregame events, Rothstein and the service members watched the game from skyboxes.
"Today has been a wonderful day," Rothstein said.