I know it’s mid-May and Veterans’ Day is six months away, but today I got a heart-warming dose of reality. As the PawSox arrived early Saturday at the Detroit airport to fly back to Pawtucket, we came upon a contingent of World War II veterans who were making a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the World War II monument. What struck me was the contrast between the young, strong PawSox players and the heroes of our fathers’ generation. As they sat, smiling and clearly happy about their excursion, I imagined them in foxholes, storming the beach at Normandy, or enduring the attack on Pearl Harbor. There they sat sixty four years after the war ended, no doubt wondering how the time passed so quickly. Dressed in patriotic colors, they used canes, walkers and wheelchairs to get around. You didn’t see or hear any complaints, these were men who fought for us. They fought and in a lot of cases, died to defend the United States of America. They boarded the same Southwest flight as the PawSox, settled into their seats and headed for the airport in Baltimore where a bus awaited their arrival. After the short ride to the monument, I imagined there would be a flood of emotions, ranging from sorrow and anger to a sense of “Wow, I can’t believe we did what we did”, perhaps a sense of pride for their accomplishment. I suddenly felt very guilty for being bitter about getting up early. You know these men faced much more dire situations. It definitely gave me a pause for thought. As we got off the plane, the people at the gate in the Baltimore airport were standing and applauding their arrival. It was a humbling experience. I’m glad I was there. I know this blog is supposed to be about baseball, but I felt that any reader might appreciate everything about our life on the road. Today was a special day.
After we boarded the plane, the stewardess welcomed the veterans on board. She then wished PawSox manager Ron Johnson a happy 65th birthday. Every trip, it seems someone tells the flight attendant that it’s RJ’s birthday. RJ is only 53 and his birthday is in March. Usually they just wish him a happy day, but this time the stewardess got the entire plane to sing “Happy Birthday”. To me, it was incredibly funny. Wild applause followed as the players got a tremendous kick from the joke. As Larry the Cable Guy might say- “That’s funny, I don’t care who you are.”
True moment- as we got off the plane, strength and conditioning coach Mike Jones was applauded with the other veterans. Jonesey is a “silver fox” with a full head of white hair. He took a good deal of teasing for it and inherited a new nickname, “D-Day”. We’ll see if it sticks.
Best of luck to Jeff Corsaletti, the outfielder out of the University of Florida. Corso wa traded early Saturday to Pittsburgh. The PawSox will receive Freddy Guzman. Guzman lead the I.L. in stolen bases in 2008.