Running on the field in front of a packed stadium for the first time after a long winter is an exhilarating moment even for the most-seasoned players. However, we’re guessing that feeling pales in comparison to the exhilaration felt by the USSOCOM Parachute Team as they descended into Charlotte Sports Park for the Tampa Bay Rays spring opener on Thursday.
The remarkable jump — which was captured from the perspective of one of the fearless jumpers involved — was part of Military Appreciation Day. For their game against the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays donated 500 tickets through Charlotte County Veterans Services for local veterans and their families to attend the game. Many of those veterans were recognized on the field, which added another layer of emotion to an already special day.
The fans were included as well, with the first 5,000 fans in attendance receiving a Rays military-themed T-shirt.
The USSOCOM Parachute Team served as the exclamation point to the special presentation, delivering the American flag and the first pitch ball as part of their jump. The team also flawlessly passed around a baton during their jump (there’s no room for a bobble up there). That was presented to new Rays manager Kevin Cash.
As pregame ceremonies go, this one was pretty impressive. Of course, the Rays wouldn’t be able to arrange such an event at Tropicana Field, but that makes it even better to see them take advantage of the opportunity during the spring.
BLS H/N: Cut 4
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