Bowie Baysox honors Soldiers at Fort Meade Day
By Brandon Bieltz
Despite being surrounded by professional baseball players, the 6-year-old was more interested in their tools stacked up in the corner of the dusty dugout.
"I saw the bats," he said with excitement.
Anthony was among the several players from the 5- and 6-year-old Fort Meade Cougars baseball team who visited the Baysox dugout prior to the first pitch of Fort Meade Day.
Nearly 7,000 fans filled Prince George's Stadium as the Orioles Double-A affiliate celebrated the Army's 237th birthday. Fort Meade Soldiers participated in several events including throwing out the first pitch.
Before the game started, members of the Cougars team walked around the Baysox dugout, receiving autographs from players as they took the field to warm up.
Pfc. Wesley Pattillo of the 741st Military Intelligence Battalion kicked off the pregame festivities when he stood in front of the pitcher's mound to toss out the first pitch. Having played baseball as a child, Pattillo looked forward to making the throw.
"I always hoped I would," he said. "I never actually thought I'd be out here."
Prior to making his pitch, Pattillo said he was a little worried about trying to pitch in his uniform but still figured he could get the ball over the plate. With a proper wind-up, Pattillo pitched toward home plate to the cheers of the crowd. Mission accomplished.
The Cougars, who were still rummaging around the dugout, stood near the first baseline, ready to run onto the field as the starting lineup was announced. As each Baysox player's name was called, that player took a few Fort Meade children onto the field.
Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiments (The Old Guard) color guard then marched onto the field as the Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps performed the National Anthem.
Anthony was given the honor of yelling "play ball" to officially begin the game -- his favorite part of the evening, he said.
"It was great," he said of standing on the minor league field.
The Fort Meade Day events carried into the game as Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein stood on the visitors' dugout and administered the Oath of Enlistment to a group of new Soldiers during the middle of the second inning.
During the seventh-inning stretch, Sgt. 1st Class Erika Lehmkuhl sang "God Bless America."
Pattillo said he enjoyed participating in the three-hour event.
"I'm glad they're doing it," he said. "I appreciate it."
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