2016-08-18 / Editorial Page

Greenjackets and fans honor the military

Baseball’s best
By LAMAR GARRARD
Baseball historian

“No matter how good you are, you are going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you are going to win one- third of your games. It’s the other third that makes a difference.” – Tommy Lasorda, Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Fame manager.

My wife and I attended the Au­gusta Greenjackets game this past Saturday evening and witnessed the 10th annual Augusta Green­jacket Military Appreciation Night. It was truly a patriotic Americana- type of experience. The Green­jackets and their General Manager Tom Denlinger and staff have done a wonderful job of enlisting many community and business sponsors for this worthwhile event.

One of the events of the evening was to witness the swearing into the Armed Services a group of new enlistees that numbered maybe 40 or 50 young Americans volunteer­ing to serve and protect our great country. There were several cer­emonial first pitches thrown out by military personnel. We stood as the Army Color Guard presented the colors. The Navy Choir gave a stirring rendition of our National Anthem.

It was special to see that the Greenjackets uniforms for the game were patterned with a mili­tary theme and contained the cam­eo and camouflaged design. The management went all out to en­tertain and accommodate the fans and there were many giveaways at the entrance gates and during the game. The contests on the field are always a big hit with the younger patrons.

The Greenjackets, as I write this, are in first place in their division and are playing very good baseball. It is refreshing to see young 18, 19, 20-year-old low-A ball players play the game. There is a lot of hustle, determination, and pride with these young prospects and they play the game hard and with enthusiasm. The Augusta club downed the Lexington Legends 7-1 that night on 3-hit pitching by the winning pitcher, Luis Pino, and his reliever, Ryan Kozial.

The Legends from Kentucky have a very popular and familiar face among its coaching staff with Glenn Hubbard, former Atlanta Brave standout second baseman, serving as first base coach. Hub­bard’s job with the team is to teach and monitor the progress of these early professionals and try to get them to a point to advance to the next level of play. Hubbard was well-liked while with Atlanta and always played hard and to win. I am sure his current students are benefitting from his years of big league play and the knowledge and expertise that comes from that.

The Augustans won their seventh straight game and under the steady hand of former Greenjacket player and now manager, Nestor Rojas, the team appears headed for the playoffs and a chance at the league championship. It was a great night and it became even greater for me when I struck up a conversation with one of the soldiers who was seated next to us.

Command Sergeant Major Mar­cus Campbell, with 30 years ser­vice in the Army, and his lovely wife were seated next to my wife and me. He was very humble in telling me about his extraordinary length of service to our country. For men like him and women like his wife we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. He was one of those out on the field at the begin­ning of the game throwing out the first pitch and he fired one straight to the catcher.

It was pleasing to see the tradi­tion that baseball and the Green­jackets in particular have created in honoring our nation’s soldiers and their families. The game of baseball saluting our heroes is one of our great American traditions. It was so evident in this once-a-year tribute to those so deserving.

It was a treat for me to spend a few minutes chatting with Green­jacket Marketing and Media Spe­cialist William Chase. William wears many hats during the course of the game that may include vid­eoing, assisting with the contests and give aways, communicating with the press, and on and on. He is a very busy, but gracious young man.

The Greenjackets have a few more home games left and then the playoffs. I recommend going to see them finish the season. It is a super ballpark in a beautiful lo­cation overlooking tranquil Lake Olmstead and is the Augusta team where the great Ty Cobb made his professional debut in 1904. The slogan is: “AUGUSTA: HOME OF TY COBB.” You might just see a championship team!

Return to top