ROUND ROCK, TX – Sitting on a loveseat in the rear of the press box at the Dell Diamond just over one hour before the first pitch in Friday night's Missions-Express game, I'm a little stressed about how best to start this column.
Do I try to be funny? Do I keep a solemn tone? Or do I become cliché and relate Memorial Day to baseball's traditions?
I've decided on "none of the above".
I'm simply going to tell you my problems with settling upon this lead and why I decided upon this Q & A feature in the first place. Two scenes this week have prompted me to propose this column.
The first scene was in the top of the ninth inning of San Antonio's 8-7 loss Thursday evening. I made my way down from the press box in preparation for post-game interviews to the first row of section 122 just behind the visiting team's batters box. Missions OF Greg Jacobs performed his warm-up routine and I noticed the small American flag patch above the gold-trimmed black number 7 on his black jersey.
The second scene was immediately after I left my father's office, but not before noticing once again the American flag hanging on his office wall. The flag has been there since he moved into his new location in 2002, but it was a simple thought as I drove down Interstate 35 north from Austin to Round Rock in classic Friday/Memorial Day Weekend traffic. My father started his own business in Austin after he relieved his father-in-law (my grandfather) of the original business in the small South Texas town of Uvalde. Basically, my father is living his own version of the "American Dream".
This question-and-answer session is to simply ask those within the Missions organization about those people that they remember a little bit more on Memorial Day. The names that follow are family and friends of those listed and are both veterans and active duty.
RHP Allen Levrault – Kevin Tetrult (Allen's Friend)
LHP Jared Thomas – Mark Meyers, United States Army (Jared's Friend)
OF Greg Jacobs – Douglas C. Jacobs, United States Navy (Greg's Father) & George Brandt, United States Navy (Greg's Grandfather)
1B/DH John Lindsey – Larry MacFarland, United States Army (John's Uncle), Bennie MacFarland, United States Army (John's Uncle), Allan Trotter (John's Cousin) and Steve Allen (John's Friend)
LHP Tim Rall – Marty Rall (Tim's Father) & Ralph Rall, United States Air Force (Tim's Grandfather)
1B/DH Ryan Balfe – Brian Balfe, United States Navy (Ryan's Uncle)
IF Hunter Brown – Edmund Brown, Jr., United States Army (Hunter's Uncle)
SS Eddy Menchaca – Ricky Flores, United States Air Force (Eddy's Friend) & Reggie L., United States Marine Corps (Eddy's Friend)
During the series in Round Rock, many from the Missions front office made the road trip 100 miles to watch various games. I talked to one person from the front office who told me a story that hit close to home.
Jeff Long, Missions Asst. General Manager – William R. "Ray" Long, United States Marine Corps (Jeff's Uncle)
"He served in the South Pacific during World War II," said Long. "He didn't really talk about his service, but I read the book Flags of Our Fathers and I was finally able to know what he went through."
Before batting practice on Friday afternoon, I waited outside the Missions clubhouse under the bleachers in left field to talk with the team about this column. As I waited, Missions broadcaster Roy Acuff came by to find out the starting lineup for the night's game and I asked him the same question I was ready to pose to the players.
Roy Acuff, Missions Broadcaster – E.W. Acuff, United States Navy (Roy's Father)
What I also found out about Roy is that he is a veteran of the Armed Forces, having served in the United States Army.
From my celebration of Memorial Day, my thoughts turn to three people.
My step-father, Ramiro Ramirez, Jr., served proudly for 19 years in the United States Marine Corps rising to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant. His father, Ramiro Ramirez, served in the Pacific Theatre during WWII in the United States Navy and fought in the Battle for Tarawa in 1943 (as did Jeff Long's uncle). Sadly, he passed away last summer, although I'm sure he would have been proud of the World War II Memorial that opened this past weekend in Washington, D.C.
Last but not least is my grandfather, Juan M. Sosa, who served as a medic during World War II in the United States Army. Both "The Star-Spangled Banner" and Memorial Day hold a little bit more meaning to me as I never met my grandfather, who passed away less than one year before I was born.
Although I had trouble deciding how to begin this column, figuring out how to end it was simple.
To my grandfather, to Mr. Acuff and to all of those who have served or are currently serving; thank you.
Happy Memorial Day from San Antonio
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