This 4th of July weekend, we will see a first for Major League Baseball and for all major professional sports in fact when the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins will play a regular season game on a military site.
Sunday July 3rd, all eyes in the sports world, particularly the baseball world, will be tuned in to ESPN @ 8 p.m. ET when the Braves and Marlins step foot on Fort Bragg, the largest active military base in the world that houses over 250,000 people consistence of service men and women and their loved ones. The 500-square-mile site has an impact of roughly $10 billion on the local community.
It will be the final game of a four-game series between the two division rivals, the first three games taking place at Turner Field in Atlanta. They will be playing on a field that was constructed and put together in a matter of months, seating 12,500 men and women posted up on the base. The site was originally part of a retired golf course and was converted to a baseball field.
Atlanta veteran outfielder Jeff Francouer recently spoke of the opportunity to play a game that counts on a military base.
“The excitement more than anything is about the experience,” Francoeur said. “We’re going to get a chance to hang out in the mess hall and spend the day honestly just hanging with those guys, which for us, what an honor.”
“I’m sure [the military members] will be excited to watch a ballgame on Sunday night on ESPN, but I think more than anything, we’ll be looking forward to spending the morning and afternoon hanging out with those guys,” Francoeur said. “It’s just an honor to be with them. It’s not like they’re forced to go into [the military]. They make the decision to serve our country and be the backbone that keeps us safe.”
An honor indeed on behalf of Major League Baseball, the game has been intertwined with the military like bread and butter dating back to the 19th century. For baseball to be the first major professional sport to hop on this opportunity is definitely transcending and something that the game will continue to do for years to come, and likely something other sports will and should follow suit.
It is something that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is thrilled to being doing for the game.
“Major League Baseball’s boundless gratitude to our military has led us to a unique event that will benefit the men and women of Fort Bragg and their families for many years. I thank the Braves and the Marlins for their participation and all of our Clubs and Players for contributing to this gesture, which will stand as a fitting new chapter in the National Pastime’s proud and distinguished military history.”
On the flip side, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander, Col. Brett Funck spoke about what it means for him and all military personnel to have MLB come to their site.
“We’re extremely grateful to Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association for their support to our Service members and families. This historic event and the converted multipurpose facility will have enduring benefits for our entire Fort Bragg community for years to come.”
Major League Baseball has always been a top support of ‘Welcome Back Veterans‘ and the ‘Players Trust‘, organizations that aid in supporting military personnel and their families in various capacities. It is also worth noting that following the game on Sunday, the field will be again transformed into a permanent softball field and multi-sports complex for those on base to use, as a gift from MLB.
Again, you can tune into ESPN at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday July 3 to watch the Braves and Marlins play in front of more than 12,000 military personnel and their loved ones. On behalf of DSN, we express our deepest gratitude and support to those who spend countless hours serving for and protecting our country, we thank you all.