The decades-long story of (friendly) rivalry between the U.S. Army and its most famous 1947 offshoot, the U.S. Air Force, is about to gain a new chapter.
On Friday, July 13, co-ed teams representing active members of the land and air services -- all stationed in the National Capital Region -- will compete for championship honors in the "All-Star Armed Services Classic" softball game at Nationals Park in Washington.
According to a release sent by Major League Baseball, the game is a free, public event, but tickets are required for admission. Tickets are available online via the MLB website or at the Nationals Park ticket windows on the day of the game. The game will also stream live on MLB.com.
The game is the first of its kind, and it's also the first of many events scheduled for MLB's "2018 Midsummer Classic" -- five days of festivities that culminate with the annual big-league all-star game.
In addition to Army-Air Force face-off, the Friday evening event will feature pregame ceremonial elements and a homerun challenge between active service members from all branches.
The Army and Air Force teams earned a berth in the championship game by advancing in a round-robin preliminary tournament in June that featured teams of active service members from each of the four military branches and the U.S. Coast Guard.
“To play against each branch is something special,” said Tech. Sgt. Larry Russell, Air Force softball team outfielder, during that tournament. “When you’re playing for your branch, it’s service before self -- you’re playing for something a lot bigger than yourself.”
The biggest difference this time, of course, will be the venue. The preliminary games were played at Jericho Park in Bowie, Md. Now, these recreational softball players will be surrounded by 41,339 seats and a 101-foot scoreboard.
“A lot of us dream of playing in a stadium,” Russell said. “So I think it’s a dream come true.”
That dream will fittingly be kicked off by the U.S. Army Brass Quintet's rendition of the National Anthem, accompanied by the joint service color guard. Shortly after, U.S. Marine Corps World War II veteran Ed Bearss, 95, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Bearss, an Arlington, Va., resident, also attended the first MLB all-star game in 1933, according to the MLB release.
The Air Force team consists of 16 players, 11 of whom are stationed here at JBA. Those players are:
Senior Airman Micah Kellogg
Senior Airman Branden Lombardo
Senior Airman Tylar Perez
Senior Airman Joshua Watson
Staff Sgt. Chelsea Clement
Staff Sgt. Tyler Hendrix
Staff Sgt. Monica Rodriguez
Tech. Sgt. Larry Russell
Master Sgt. Jamal Nails
Master Sgt. Eric Rossignol
Master Sgt. T.J. Hoffma