Patriotic ceremony, 9/11 tribute part of July 4th event
On Thursday, July 4th, the Chillicothe Mudcats will host an exhibition game against the U.S. Military All Stars, a traveling baseball team with players from every branch of the United States armed forces.
Since 1990, the team has featured the athletic talents of more than 25,000 armed forces personnel. Proceeds from the team's Red, White and Blue Summer Tours help fund the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization aimed to assist severely injured service men and women.
The All Stars will arrive at noon in Chillicothe, led by a procession of local law enforcement officers. They will travel north on Washington Street through the city, turn around and stop at Royal Inn Pizza for a luncheon, sponsored by the restaurant and Trenton Coca-Cola. Mudcats General Manager Doug Doughty encourages all who are interested to join the team for lunch.
"If people want to come out and meet them before the game at Royal Inn Pizza right around noon, that'd be great," Doughty said. "There will be other opportunities with the National Guard and Trenton Coca-Cola sponsoring the tailgate party before the game. That's going to start around 2 o'clock in the afternoon at Shaffer Park."
On Wednesday, July 3, The All Stars will play the St. Joseph Mustangs in St. Joseph, Mo. That game will be the fourth meeting between the Mustangs and the All Stars. Doughty said he is honored to add Chillicothe to the All Stars' list of stops in the Show-Me State.
"When we first contacted them, we were actually hoping that we could maybe get them here next year," Doughty explained. "They happened to have July Fourth open. They were between St. Joe and Topeka. The July Fourth date is their biggest date. We worked that out. Thanks to Chillicothe State Bank, Trenton Coca-Cola, Royal Inn Pizza, Days Inn, the local National Guard unit, the First Presbyterian Church and the Mudcats, we are bringing the Military All-Stars to town."
The game is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at Shaffer Park in Chillicothe. In addition to the game itself, the event will feature a variety of patriotic and family-friendly activities.
"We get started at the ballpark at 5 o'clock," Doughty said. "There will be a 30-minute pre-game ceremony. It will include local veterans. During the game, they usually stop at exactly 11 minutes after nine and do a 9/11 tribute. The game won't be going on July 4 at 11 minutes after nine, but they will stop the game at a certain point and do the 9/11 tribute. They also have some fun. They have a home run derby between innings for kids. It will be a family event."
Involvement from local service men and women does not stop at the pre-game ceremony. Some veterans will don the signature camouflage jersey and become a one-night member of the All Stars.
"Army Ranger, Karl Seiter is the general manager of the U. S. Military All-Stars," Doughty explained. "He mentioned to me that he has some extra uniforms on hand at all times, and if some local guys wanted to dress out with the Military All Stars, he'd be more than happy to share those uniforms."
Doughty said some familiar names will be participate in the Mudcats/All Stars Independence Day game.
"Some of the younger guys you might recognize are Colin Parker, he's a former Mudcat. Drew Hibner played Legion baseball here. Both those guys are in the National Guard," Doughty said. "We've got some real veterans involved there, too. Sergeant Heath Corzette from the local Battery B, 1st of the 129th Field Artillery of the Missouri National Guard will be suiting up for the All Stars. Tom Douglas, a Vietnam vet. He's going to dress out with the All Stars. Vern Wascher, he was drafted by the Milwaukee Braves back in the 1950s. He served in the Air Force. He's thrilled to do this. Another name you'll recognize is Floyd Gable. Floyd was an SPA coach and a Legion coach for many years. He coached college baseball. He's a fixture in this community. He's really looking forward to the experience also."
Following the game, the All Stars will enjoy a meal prepared by the First Presbyterian Church in Chillicothe. The team will then stay free-of-charge at the Chillicothe Days Inn. The motel has donated 12 rooms to the team Thursday night and will serve breakfast Friday morning.
Doughty said he's thankful the U.S. Military All Stars could make the Independence Day trip to play the Mudcats. He's hopeful this will become a summertime tradition for not only the 'Cats, but the Chillicothe community as a whole.
"We're just really happy that the Military All Stars have made a time in their schedule to come to Chillicothe," Doughty said. We hope to do this every year. It should be a great event. And a final reminder: veterans and active duty military/first responders get in free."