From the battlefield to the ballfield, honoring our nation’s veterans

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 4:42 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Play ball! World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam Veterans at the Sims Nursing Home arrived in style to the Miracle League Field at Frank Brown Park Thursday morning.

“When they unload off the bus, we have a whole bunch of cheering people,” Dave Johnson, the Miracle League Veterans Game Event Coordinator, said. “They’re holding flags, they’re cheering them on. They’re walking right through this flag line like their own little homecoming parade. It’s a beautiful sight to see.”

The red and blue teams then took to the field for an opening ceremony. It was just like a regular game; lineups were read. This game was extra special though, each veteran received a medal and there was a Bay County Sheriff’s Office helicopter flyover.

Then the real fun began, a good old-fashioned game of baseball.

“They come out here to play,” Johnson said. “They talk a lot of smack back at the Sims about how they’re really going to hit one out of the park. This is their dream; we make them feel young again. And think about it, when they were 18 or 19, they weren’t playing ball they were going to war and stuff.”

“Home run!” Robert Franklin Ivy, a United States Air Force Veteran, said. ‘You’re going to hit a homerun?’ NewsChannel 7′s Sam Martello asked. “I hope so, I don’t know,” Ivy said. “We’ll try.”

It was the first time the event was held in two years. The pandemic and hurricane cancelled previous events. But, whether they were a returning player, or playing for the first time, for them, it just felt good to be on the ballfield.

“This is my first time,” Ivy said. “It’s great. Just look around here, a lot of fun. A lot of GIs out here, a lot of G’s.”

The red, white, and blue was flying high.

“Proud to be American,” Ivy said.

For a thank you to our nation’s veterans.

This was the 10th year the event was held.

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