Four days before the 2018 MLB All-Star Game, Nationals Park opened its gates to host this year’s All-Star Armed Services Classic.
The matchup Friday evening between the Air Force and Army co-ed softball teams kicked off Major League Baseball’s 2018 All-Star festivities.
Prior to facing off on July 13, Army and Air Force got past the Navy, Coast Guard Marine Corps teams in the inaugural tournament. All five teams were present at Nationals Park for the championship game.
The inaugural classic drew cheers from the service members and families who rooted for their teams.
Three Fort Meade Soldiers played on the Army team, which lost to Air Force 9-3 in the seven-inning game. The installation’s participants were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Richard Westmoreland, Sgt. David Perez and Sgt. Robert Collier.
“The atmosphere is amazing. The amount of people out here in the stands — I couldn’t predict that,” Perez said after the game. “This is the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of. It’s amazing.”
Hundreds of DoD personnel and families filed into the stadium to watch the game.
While many players looked up to see their loved ones in the stands, Perez saw his wife in the opposing dugout.
His wife, Senior Airman Tyler Perez of Joint-Base Andrews, played for Air Force and went home with the win.
During the game, David Perez made a sliding grab and forced an out at second base, taking away an extra-base hit from his wife.
“She let me know soon as the play was over [that I’d be in the doghouse], but I had to make that play,” he said.
The couple bet laundry duty on the game’s outcome. While he has a great highlight play to reflect on, she has bragging rights for the week.
“I was so mad when he snatched my hit away,” Tyler Perez told The Washington Post. “But I’ll get over it when I’m sitting on the couch with my feet up, thinking about this great win while he’s doing the laundry.”
While Soldiers on the Army team said they enjoyed playing under the D.C. lights, it was apparent that the jitters of being on a major-league ballpark got to them.
Poor pitching and numerous errors accumulated for Army as Air Force jumped ahead to an 8-1 lead early in the game.
“It’s a tough break. … We could play again right now and the score could be very different,” David Perez said.
Despite losing, the players’ attitudes were hardly negative. Both Soldiers and Airmen were happy to play on the capital’s biggest baseball stage.
“We started off kind of slow, but I’m glad we rallied toward the end. Unfortunately, it was a little too late,” Collier said.
“We got a little caught up in the moment, but it was definitely fun being out here.”