The Detroit Tigers celebrated the dedication and sacrifice of current and former members of the Armed Forces on Independence Day. The Tigers donated 1,000 tickets to local members of the Armed Forces and veterans along with their families to attend the game when the Tigers defeated the Minnesota Twins. Members of the Armed Forces and Veterans were invited to the field at Comerica Park and recognized for their service to the United States Armed Forces prior to the National Anthem. Adjutant Rolly Lee of the Disabled American Veterans, Department of Michigan representing all Veterans and Colonel Philip Sheridan from Selfridge Air National Guard Base representing all active service members each threw a ceremonial first pitch. SMSgt Mark Kaufmann of the Air National Guard sang the National Anthem prior to the game and "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch. Captain Daniel Mercante of the Michigan Air National Guard from Harrison Township, Michigan delivered the game ball to the pitcher's mound. Captain Mercante recently returned from deployment to Afghanistan where he served as a pilot with the 107th fighter squad of the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard. All service members and Veterans who participated in the on-field recognition received a patriotic Detroit Tigers t-shirt.
The Detroit Tigers partner with local organizations to invite active service members and Veterans to participate in the event. Organizations include Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Disabled American Veterans, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., Wayne State University Student Veterans Organization, John D. Dingell Veteran's Affairs Medical Center in Detroit, Veteran's Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, United States Navy Recruiting Office, Detroit, the United States Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Operation Homefront, Rolling Thunder POW and the Marines Corp League Downriver Detachment.
To show appreciation to the Veterans of the United States Armed Forces, Tigers pitcher Doug Fister and Fox Sports Detroit broadcaster Mario Impemba visited with patients and participated in a Nintendo Wii Baseball tournament with the Veterans. Cheers and words of encouragement filled the activities room for those who participated in the Wii Baseball Home Run Derby with Fister and Impemba. Each patient received a copy of "Operation Opening Day DVD"-a DVD presentation courtesy of Mario Impemba and Detroit Tigers gifts courtesy of the Detroit Tigers.
For more information about the "Operation Opening Day DVD," please click here.