In a dusty Internet tent constructed on an Army base about 60 miles north of Baghdad and several thousand miles from Cincinnati, Jeff Brown, a 1997 graduate and 1st Lt. in the Kentucky Army National Guard, checks his e-mail. He finds a new message from fellow classmate Bryan Kirby saying that he’s arranged for a special event when Brown returns home on leave in July. He’s going to throw out the first pitch at a Cincinnati Reds game.
For Brown, it’s a true honor. Brown loves the Reds. He regularly reads up on the team via the Web. Friends mail him game programs. His wife, Suzi, sends him Cracker Jacks to commemorate Opening Day. His mother clips and mails daily sports columns. And when he’s on a convoy, he always travels with a ball he got at batting practice before a Reds game.
Knowing his dedication to the team, Kirby connected with Cincinnati Enquirer sports columnist Paul Daugherty and made a pitch to the Reds: Let Brown throw out the first pitch at a Reds game on July 4. It doesn’t get more patriotic than that. The Reds agreed, so Brown found himself on the pitcher’s mound prior to the game against the Cleveland Indians making the ceremonial first pitch. It was a strike—at least with Brown.
“It’s nice to share that moment with my wife and my best friend and our city,” Brown says.