Monday, April 13, 2009
Magazine Update: San Diego Padres, "Team of the Military," open 2009 campaign
The spring 2008 issue of "American Veteran" highlighted Cooper Brannan, a young Marine pitching in the San Diego Padres organization.
Cooper just entered his third year with the team, continuing an improbable foray into professional baseball. Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres organization has marched into the 2009 campaign upholding their reputation as the "Team of the Military" in one of the nation's largest military towns.
The Padres' season of military support kicked off on Wednesday night with Military Opening Night, when the Padres took on division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park. Padres prospect Walter Silva made his major league debut as part of the Padres' tradition, donning the team's desert camouflage jersey. To view the MLB.com gallery from the game, Click Here.
Prior to the game, the Padres honored local military personnel while Vice Adm. Sam Locklear, commander U.S. Third Fleet, and Senior Chief Petty Officer John Kelley, Third Fleet staff, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Throughout the season, the Padres will continue to demonstrate their support to the military through a variety of community outreach programs, orchestrated by the team's Military Affairs director, retired Navy Capt. Jack Ensch.
Since 1995, Ensch has made it his personal mission to ensure that the Padres embrace the San Diego military community, offering unparalleled access and support to all who wear the uniform in Southern California. Ensch, a Vietnam veteran and former P.O.W., understands why it is important for the public to support those who serve.
In addition to regular ticket discounts and the special refund program for deployed personnel, the Padres will continue to offer on-field reenlistment ceremonies and military group outings.
In 2009, the Padres will introduce the Host Our Heroes Program, where companies and individuals can show their appreciation to the military community by hosting service members and their families for Padres home games.
The Padres cornerstone military program, Marine Recruit Sundays, will return for 13 Sundays in the regular season. During Sunday home games, the Padres will wear their camouflage uniforms and host the graduating class from San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot. In 2001, AMVETS National Communications Director Jay Agg was one of the Marine recruits honored by the Padres.
Aside from this array of in-stadium programs for the military community, the Padres will continue to work extensively with the military units and installations around San Diego. In the past, the Padres have worked closely with U.S. Third Fleet to ensure that sailors could watch games while underway. The team has also arranged player visits to military medical facilities, appearances at military events around the community, and visible contributions to San Diego Fleet Week.
As the season rolls on, check in regularly with American Veteran online to see how the Padres and Capt. Ensch continue to demonstrate their support to those who have served.
To view the Padres' official military programs Web page, Click Here.
(Photos: San Diego Padres Military Opening Night at PETCO Park. Photos courtesy of the San Diego Padres.)