For Marshall A's manager Sean Culhane this Sunday's game against the U.S. Military All-Stars is the culmination of months of planning and the fulfillment of one of his long time goals as manager of the A's.
"I've wanted to do something to support the military for a few years now," Culhane said, "But I wasn't sure how. I've managed for awhile, but I wasn't sure exactly how to do something to benefit the military. I wasn't sure who to contact.
"There are a lot of military families in the area who have veterans in their family or are currently serving in the armed forces. We wanted to do something special for them."
Luckily for Culhane, and the entire southwest Minnesota region, fate intervened by way of a call from Austin Greyhounds manager John Frein.
"(Frein) called me and said that they were looking to schedule a game with the U.S. Military All-Stars. They didn't want to come all the way to Minnesota for just one game, so Frein contacted some other teams in the state to see if they were interested," Culhane said.
Those teams and communities hosting the U.S. Military All-Stars are Marshall, Austin, Chaska, Minnetonka, Red Wing, and New Ulm. Starting Friday, the U.S. Military All-Stars will make a week-long swing through Minnesota playing seven games against six teams.
Marshall's turn to host the team comprised of active U.S. service men and veterans will mark the conclusion of several months of planning.
"We started working on this in December," Culhane said. "Schwan's is helping to sponsor the event, and the American Legion has pitched in a meal for (the All-Stars). There was a lot of work to do."
Created at the behest of President George H.W. Bush, since 1990 over 25,000 armed forces personnel have donned America's away colors and represented their service through the U.S. Military All-Stars. Prior to their swing through Minnesota, the U.S. Military All-Stars had two significant stops - the Major League Baseball All-Star game in Kansas City, Mo., and at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa.
Some of the work involved transforming a baseball game into a community event.
"Schwan's is involved and the Marshall Fire Department will have the boom truck out there with a big American flag. There will be some activities for kids, as well as a raffle with some good prizes," Culhane said.
The proceeds from the raffle will go to support the Wounded Warrior fund, which benefits men and women injured in defense of the United States of America. A significant portion of ticket sales will also go to the Wounded Warrior fund and the Yellow Ribbon project.
Contrary to a typical A's game, there is a cost of admission. It will be $6 for adults and $4 for students. Veterans with an ID card, and their whole family, will be admitted for just $5. The portion of the proceeds not going to the Wounded Warrior fund and Yellow Ribbon project will support Marshall baseball, as well as the initial cost to bring the U.S. Military All-Stars to town.
Culhane, and Marshall baseball, not only wanted to make this game special for the community, but also for the players.
"I wanted the guys to know how lucky they are to be playing in this game," Culhane said. "I told them, 'Only six teams in the whole state get to play this team.' We will be taking a team photo with them at the memorial before the game. The guys are really excited. We are very fortunate to have this game and we are looking forward to giving back to the service men and women."