While looking the catcher square in the eye, Lt. Col. Jay Birmingham threw a fastball straight down the middle of the plate.
As the crowd cheered, Birmingham walked off the field with his head held high.
“I would rate my pitch a nine,” said Birmingham, deputy garrison commander for transformation at Fort Meade. “My pitch had a lot of speed, but I wanted more action on it.”
Birmingham was one of several people who threw the ceremonial first pitch at the start of Fort Meade Military Appreciation Night, hosted Friday evening by the Bowie Baysox at Prince George’s Stadium.
The ball club, the double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, played the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The Baysox donated complementary tickets to service members and their families through Leisure Travel Service.
Master Sgt. Laura Lesche of the U.S. Army Field Band sang the national anthem before the first pitch as well as “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch.
“Not only is it exhilarating to sing the anthem, but to sing it during the celebration of the Army’s birthday is an indescribable feeling,” Lesche said moments before the game.
Before Birmingham took to the field, Esther Lofgren — USA Olympian and 10-time U.S. National Rowing Team member —let him touch her gold medal for good luck.
Then Lofgren, along with two of her teammates —Sam Stitt and Linda Miller — each threw a pitch in succession.
The Cougars, Fort Meade’s Little League team, joined the fun as they hung out with Baysox players in the dugout before the start of the game. The youngsters also escorted the players onto the field for the national anthem.
“It was fun walking out on the field with the Bowie Baysox,” said 7-year-old Cougar Seth Parrish. “I think I can see myself playing for the Baltimore Orioles one day.”
Cougars head coach Michael Eudy watched the game, which the Baysox lost 9-5, from the stands with a few of his players.
“I believe the kids really appreciate events such as this,” Eudy said during the game. “With all of the things these kids have to go through that other kids may not necessarily go through, such as deployments, I believe this is really good for them.
“Not only do the kids appreciate this, but the military as well,” he said.