The traditional rivalry between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees took backstage to Monday’s Memorial Day tribute to the military.
The Orioles hosted Fort Meade at the team’s annual Military Appreciation Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Eleven Fort Meade service members representing all military branches took part in several events including the ceremonial first pitch and the singing of the national anthem as service members stood alongside Orioles players.
“The Orioles are a great organization, very generous and very supportive, and we’re grateful for it,” Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard said.
As pitchers from both teams warmed up, the service members lined up near the Orioles dugout.
Minutes later, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Manuel Perez of U.S. Marine Corps Cyberspace Command threw the first pitch. He stood at the pitcher’s mound beside Rickard.
After the ball sailed across home plate, the crowd of 40,424 fans broke out in applause as Rickard, the Oriole Bird and Orioles pitcher Donnie Hart congratulated Perez.
“It was a blast,” said Perez, 34, who admitted he is more accustomed to playing wiffle ball.
After the pitch, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (“The Old Guard”) from Joint Base Myers-Henderson Hall in Virginia posted the colors.
Dressed in their Class B uniforms, nine service members ran onto the field with Orioles players and stood beside them for the posting of the colors and national anthem.
“It was cool,” Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Glassman, a Coast Guard Reservist, said later.
The honor was particularly meaningful for the Maryland native.
“I love the Orioles,” Glassman said. “I was born and raised here.”
Sgt. Maurice B. Edmonds, a systems control watch officer at the Defense Information Systems Agency, stood in the outfield between first baseman Chris Davis and second baseman Jonathan Schoop.
“I’ve never been on the field before,” said Edmonds, who grew up in southern Maryland. “It was a great experience. They both asked me my name and thanked me for my service and shook my hand.”
Sgt. 1st Class Randy Wight of the U.S. Army Field Band sang the national anthem — a challenge for any vocalist in an open stadium.
“I love it, I do,” he said of the song composed in 1814 just a short distance away at Fort McHenry. “You have 90 seconds to challenge yourself musically. More than that, the significance of that song in Baltimore is very special.
“No matter how many times you do it, it’s always a challenge — no music to back it up. An octave and a half makes or breaks you. You’ve got to start on the right note and end on the right note.”
As the packed stadium roared with cheers and applause, the Memorial Day tribute continued throughout the game.
During the seventh inning stretch, Wight sang “God Bless America” as the Oriole Bird waved an American flag from the stands.
At exactly 3 p.m., the game stopped and the scoreboard went dark as players and fans stood in silence for the National Moment of Remembrance in honor of fallen service members.
The Birds – dressed in white and black uniforms — and the Yankees wore camouflage-designed jerseys and caps.
Game-worn autographed jerseys and caps were auctioned off on the Orioles website at orioles.com/auctions to benefit the Fort Meade Alliance and the Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation. The auction ends Tuesday at 10 p.m.
Between innings, players’ prerecorded remarks supporting the military appeared on the Jumbotron.
After the pregame activities, the Fort Meade service members rushed to their seats to watch the tight game.
The Orioles took the lead in the first inning, scoring one run. In the third inning, Schoop hit a double and brought in an additional two runs.
The Birds maintained their lead throughout the game, beating the Yanks 3-2.
“It was a great game,” said Edmonds, who lives in Columbia. “I’m a Maryland resident, so it was great to see the O’s win.”