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DAV days at the ballpark a real winner.

From baseball diamonds in the shadow of the National Capitol in Washington to the dazzle of New York City lights, the DAV Day at the Ballpark program was as sizzling as the hot dogs and hamburgers devoured by fans through-out the summer.

For the first time in decades, a baseball team based in Washington, D.C., paid tribute to our nation's disabled veterans in front of a crowd that braved inclement weather for the excitement of Capitol baseball. More than 1200 DAV members and guests from the Washington. D.C., VA medical center, Walter Reed Artily Medical Center, and the National Naval Medical Center attended the exciting game. which featured a first pitch by World War 11 veteran Alice Dixon, a member of DAV Chapter 14, in Washington, D.C. The pre-game ceremonies put the spotlight on the DAV and its mission to help build better lives for disabled veterans and their families.

"Our DAV Day at the Ballpark program is a series of exciting events for our Departments and Chapters," said Washington Headquarters Executive Director David W. German. "Dozens to thousands of DAV members are attending games in which their service and sacrifice are recognized by professional baseball and millions of fans."

The DAV Day at the Ballpark minor league program also began its inaugural season with a bang in Louisville, Ky., on April 12, but thunderstorms washed out the game in the fourth inning. Before the rain, the DAV lit up the festivities during pre-game ceremonies for the Triple-A Louisville Bats.

National Service Officers told the DAV's story at an information table for the fans entering the ballpark. Inside the stadium, the award-winning video. "Baseball--Real American Heroes." was shown on the score-board, and a Department of Kentucky color guard presented our nation's flag. And in pre-game ceremonies two DAV members threw out the first pitch as fans were given special baseball cards, which have become a treat for DAV Day at the Ballpark games. Because of the rainout, DAV members attending the game redeemed their min checks for another Bats game this season, with many attending a Memorial Day weekend game saluting all veterans.

In sunny New Mexico, the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes also hosted 258 DAV members on April 12. Samuel Sandoval, a World War II Marine Corps Navajo Code Talker, threw out the first pitch, and Department Commander James Andrade and Department Adjutant Herman Martinez were introduced to the crowd during pre-game ceremonies.

"Fans attending the game really enjoyed the DAV base-ball video:" said Commander Andrade. "With a section and a half of ballpark filled with members and supporters, there was a lot of cheering for the DAV." The DAV played host to 65 patients from the Albuquerque VA medical center and 15 paralyzed veterans.

"Several veterans who happened to be attending the game came down to talk to the National Service Officers attending the game," said Andrade. "Countless folks offend their thanks for our service to our country." One member of a United States Marine Corps Honor Guard from the 4th Marines said. "This is the coolest event we've ever helped support."

DAV baseball cards specially designed for the minor leagues were handed out to fans attending both games. Both the teams and DAV members were so thrilled that the DAV Day at the Ballpark program had come to minor league baseball that plans are already being made for next season's games.

The DAV Day at the Ballpark program kicked off its first major league game in Chicago with the host White Sox entertaining the Baltimore Orioles and hundreds of DAV members and guests. The cold, windy, overcast spring day was more suited for hot chocolate than cold beverages, and Sox fans were chilled by the 6-2 loss to the O's. The DAV section in the ballpark was nearly sold-out with more than 150 patients from the VA medical centers attending as our guests.

The Department of Missouri brought nearly 100 veterans from the VA medical Center in Kansas City to an exciting game that sash the St Lotus Cardinals narrowly defeat the Kansas City Royals 6-5. Double amputee Gene Wheat, a member of Chapter 49 in Waynesville, Mo., threw out the first pitch before the game.

On Memorial Day weekend, the Cincinnati Reds. Milwaukee Brewers, and Arizona Diamondbacks hosted games to honor disabled veterans. Hundreds attended the Cincinnati game, while crowds turned out for the Brewers and Diamondbacks. The following weekend, the June 3 game in Washington, D.C., was paralleled by a DAV game in Pittsburgh, which attracted several members from western Pennsylvania.

About 400 DAV members and their guests from the VA medical center, nursing homes, and homeless veterans shelters attended the June 12 DAV Day at the Ballpark game in Houston, watching the Astros shutout the Toronto Blue Jays 3-11, On June 16, about 150 DAV members and their guests braved a rainy night in Cleveland to watch the Indians edge the Colorado Rockies 2-1 in Ohio's second DAV game this season. The Minnesota Twins honored DAV members and their Auxiliary spouses who represented World War II, Korea. Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during the July 2 pre-game ceremonies. Past National Commander Lyle Pearson, a World War II POW, threw out the game's first pitch to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

More (Iran 90 DAV members and patients from VA medical centers attended the game watching the Twins defeat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 4-1.

Approximately 100 DAV members and patients from VA medical centers and nursing homes were honored by the Florida Marlins at the Independence Day game in Miami. The DAV recognized Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey H. Lorin and General Manager Larry Beinfest for their support of disabled veterans and their families.

Department of Florida Adjutant At Linden presented National Commander Awards to Beinfest and Marlins President David P. Samson, who represented Loria, recognizing their leadership and for being "a messenger of compassion and hope to all disabled veterans who struggle to achieve their dreams."

The Marlins returned the honor by recognizing Past National Commanders Linden and Dennis Joyner, former National Executive Committeeman Frank Tracy, National Area Supervisor Andrew H. Marshall, DAV Hospital Service Coordinator Sal Uccello, and disabled Iraq War veteran Michael Serrano.

In addition to the pre-game recognition, the Florida Marlins set up an information booth in the stadium to provide DAV materials to the fans attending the game. "It was so popular that everything we had was handed out in about 30 minutes," said Linden. "It was a great game--the greatest of games for the DAV." But for Marlins fans, there was no joy as they lost to the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2.

The DAV Day at the Ballpark program moved across the state for a game featuring the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Linden presented a DAV National Commander's Award to the team for their caring leadership in professional baseball to support the brave men and women who placed their lives in hart's way in defense of freedom and democracy.

Fans attending the game were delighted with packages of DAV baseball cards featuring 19 of the Tampa Bay players.

A sellout crowd in Manchester. N.H., July 9 watched the New Hampshire Fishercats pay tribute to more than 100 DAV members, and patients from the VA medical center, soldiers' home, and a homeless veterans shelter. The Fishercats donated ballcaps to DAV members attending the game, and the Department of New Hampshire treated their guests to free food at the ballpark. After pre-game introductions of the DAV Department leaders, the fans enjoyed the Fishercats' 6-3 win over the Portland Sea Dogs.

"I can't tell you how many people came up to me and other DAV members during and after the game to thank us for our service to our country," said Department Commander Robert D. Wayss. "The fans also thanked us for the DAV baseball cards."

"DAV Day at the Ballpark games continue right through to the end of the season:" said Gorman. "Each game carries our message of the service and sacrifice of our nation's disabled veterans, and that each should be honored for what they have contributed to the cause of freedom.
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Title Annotation:Disabled American Veterans
Author:Wilborn, Thom
Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1U5DC
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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