American Legion teams honored to play on USAA Military Appreciation Day

American Legion teams honored to play on USAA Military Appreciation Day

An annual tradition at the American Legion World Series, Military Appreciation Day took place on Saturday and was sponsored by USAA.

The event featured Medal of Honor recipient Hal Fritz addressing the crowd prior to the second game of the day and met with the teams.

“It was really cool to hear the stories of what he did and it gave me goosebumps,” Fargo, N.D., Post 2 left fielder Zach Sandy said. “The stories were humbling and I think it motivated some of us. It is great to see all of the veterans come out and support.”

Prior to the night game, a parade of hundreds of veterans came out onto the field grouped by branch of service and the 505th Engineer Combat Battalion.

Past National Commanders Dan Dellinger, Dan Ludwig and Jake Comer all represented The American Legion by reading the baseball program’s code of sportsmanship before games.

USAA representative and relationship manager Geno Montagno threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the first game. Before the second game, Gary Williams, assistant vice president for enterprise brand management for USAA, threw out the first pitch and was joined on the mound by Fritz. After the parade of veterans, Spc. Christopher Estevez of the 505th Engineer Combat Battalion showed off his arm with a strike on the ceremonial first pitch.

Destrehan, La., Post 366 right fielder Kolby Bourgeois was honored to be involved, saying, "To be here at a tournament that veterans are putting on for us, that is nationally televised, is a great honor. We appreciate everything that they have done so we can be here today. I just want to thank all of the veterans, especially my grandfather, for everything they have done for this country."

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