If you head out to the Marshall A's game Sunday at Legion Field, you might feel the urge to salute.
At the least, it might not be a bad idea to actually sing the National Anthem. Loudly.
Patriotism will be on full display at 6 p.m. Sunday when the A's play host to the U.S. Military All-Stars, a team comprised of military veterans and active troops.
But this spectacle will be more than just a baseball game.
"It's a great thing to have these guys come to Marshall," said Kelly Loft, president of the Marshall Baseball Association. "We're really looking forward to it. It's not just a regular game, and I guarantee you, they're gonna be good."
What: Marshall A's vs.
U.S. Military All-Stars
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Legion Field in Marshall
Tickets: Adults: $6 ($5/family with military ID), children: $4
The U.S. Military All-Stars are the only traveling team in the world that features players from all branches of the Armed Forces, as well as First Responders. They compete in both baseball and softball and have earned the reputation as the "Globetrotters of Baseball." The team has played in 45 states and 12 counties, according to its website and plays anywhere from 100 to 150 games every year. Everything they pay for is out-of-pocket.
"This team is made up of a special group of people who represent the military," said the team's chaplin/first baseman Juan Adriatico. "Our purpose is to promote awareness of those who have served and those who continue to serve in the U.S. military and to honor those who have fallen and their family members."
They also have some pretty sweet uniforms.
The team's camouflage unis are based on the prominent yellow ribbon in the "USA" logo depicted in the shape of an "S" to symbolize "Support for our Troops." And instead of their last names on the back of their jerseys, players honor the military with words like "Semper Fi," "Pearl Harbor" and "Infantry."
"We don't wear our names on our backs - we don't represent ourselves, we represent past wars and conflicts, and America," said Adriatico, who wears "Pro Deo Et Patria" ("For God the Father") on his back. "We put some great athletes out there. We can compete with the best of them and we can lose with the best of them, but our main focus is providing military awareness and help local communities. It's a great opportunity for these guys to serve communities."
The team recently left tornado-stricken Joplin, Mo., and while everyone involved with the team loves the game of baseball, this is about more than a game.
"We walked through the streets where the tornado wiped out half the town," Adriatico said. "We did a service there honoring the fallen. We do hospital visitations, we visit schools, sign autographs. The fans love it because it's America. Everything we do is very American."
Loft said the process of getting the team to come to Marshall began last winter. The team is making a swing through southern Minnesota in places like Red Wing and Austin, and Marshall fit into its July schedule. The Marshall American Legion will feed the team Sunday afternoon, and afterward both teams will gather for a photo at Marshall's Downtown Memorial Park before heading over to Legion Field for batting practice.
The team, which is made up of players from New York to California, handles most pre-game ceremonies with its own color guard, and Cottonwood native Emily Dorschner will sing the National Anthem and "God Bless America" in the middle of the seventh inning. Cy Molitor will throw out the first pitch, and soldier and former A's player Cody Trumm will catch the first pitch.
Loft said a Sunday evening game is a perfect fit for the occasion as people will be heading back into town after their weekend trip. It's no secret that plenty of Marshall folks head out of town on a summer weekend, but this will give them something to perhaps come back a little early for.
"It's gonna be great," Loft said. "We do a good job here of running tournaments at all levels and all sports. We're kind of old hat at this, but this is something different."
The A's will also have a raffle ($5 per ticket) during the game with proceeds going to the "Wounded Warrior" campaign.