The Marlins have been chosen by Major League Baseball to be a part of a historic salute to servicemen and servicewomen as part of its weekend festivities leading up to Independence Day.
The Marlins’ July 3 road game against the Braves will be played at the Fort Bragg military installation in North Carolina at 8 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN.
The game has been dubbed the “Fort Bragg Game” and will be played at a new 12,500-capacity ballpark and be the first regular season game of any professional sport to be played on an active military base.
“It sounds like a lot of fun,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Over the past few years, our country has done a lot better job of honoring our military. There are a lot of heroes there that have paid a heavy price so it feels good to honor them by playing a game there.”
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Following the game, the ballpark will be converted to a permanent softball field and multipurpose facility for those who serve at Fort Bragg, a gift courtesy of the Major League Clubs and Players.
“To take the nation’s pastime and honor our servicemen and servicewomen is going to be an incredible experience,” pitcher Tom Koehler said. “We’re going to be playing a game, but the purpose of this is to honor everything they do for us. The fact that it’s the day before Independence Day is perfect timing.”
Mike Dunn visited Fort Bragg in February 2014 as part of a pre-spring training salute to the military that was organized by Fox Sports. Dunn was among a contingent of current and former players that included Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer.
“Just being able to go through the everyday process with them was awesome,” Dunn said. “We were up at 4 a.m. every day and worked out. But just being able to have breakfast and lunch with those guys and be there with them and see what they do on a day-to-day basis was great.”
For Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich, the trip promises to be special on a personal level. His younger brother, 20-year old Cameron, is serving with the Marines and is currently stationed in Japan.
“It’s going to be great to be there on a military base and probably a unique experience,” Yelich said. “I appreciate everything the troops do for us. With someone in my family in the service, it’s going to be extra special for me.”