06/18/2014 11:23 AM -
By MATT McMULLEN
The T-Bones welcomed Maj. Cedrick Dunham of nearby Fort Leavenworth to CommunityAmerica Ballpark on Wednesday. The Major, along with several other military members and their families, attended the game as a part of a “hail to farewell,” which serves as a chance to spend time with those leaving the base and also meet new personnel.
“When you have people that come into your organization and leave your organization you have an event that serves as a chance to recognize those people and spend time with their families,” Dunham said.
Dunham presented T-Bones President Adam Ehlert with a certificate of appreciation before the game, thanking the club for hosting the event. Earlier, he spoke to the T-Bones players in the clubhouse. A veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, Dunham suggested that the values associated with leading soldiers into combat are similar to those of ballplayers heading into a game.
“I’ve given thousands of messages to soldiers before we went on missions and that message is always this: they know you’re coming,” Dunham said. “They know when you get out there that you’re going to execute, the ball is going to pop off the bat and you’re going to give them a ‘L.’”
Dunham also likened the teamwork involved in combat with what happens on the baseball diamond.
“No matter what happens, when you guys are out there and somebody makes a mistake, you’ll all look at each other and know that you have one another’s back,” Dunham said. “Mistake or not, you just move on to the next play and execute.”
The event was also aimed at honoring Master Sgt. Justin Smith, who will be deploying to Afghanistan in late August.
“It’s an honor to be out here with [Smith],” Dunham said. “You don’t get too many opportunities like this.”
Smith, who will be embarking on his first tour in Afghanistan and will serve at the Mission Control Battle Lab, volunteered for the mission.
“I’m looking forward to it in all honesty,” he said. “I had the support from my wife so I volunteered and I was selected. The Mission Control Battle Lab is a family; they take care of everybody involved.”
Coincidently enough, Janine Stange, also known as “The National Anthem Girl,” sang the national anthem before today’s contest. Stange’s performances include a way for fans to fill out blank “thank you” cards to express their gratitude to the military.