Monday night was going to be special for Gracie and Ruby Weichman no matter what. The four-year-old twin sisters just didn't know how special.
After all, they were going to a Minor League baseball game with their mother, Abby, and were going to get to take the field for a game called The Spokesman-Review Newspaper Toss. What actually happened when they went out on the diamond at Avista Stadium during the fourth inning of the game between the hometown Spokane Indians and the visiting Yakima Bears, though, was something for more meaningful than any game. It was a dream come true.
Not only did the twin girls win the contest but they were greeted by their father, having just returned from his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, who unexpectedly emerged from the home team's dugout. Not even his wife knew that he was going to be there.
Chris Weichman is a member of the 27th Special Operations Support Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Having driven all the way from New Mexico, he surprised his wife and daughters with flowers. Against the backdrop of a teary ovation from the crowd, the family was reunited during the game.
To cap off an emotionally draining night at the ballpark, rifle-armed Indians outfielder Guillermo Pimentel drove in the only run of the 1-0 win for the home team, while also making a game-saving throw from right field.
This surprise reunion at this Minor League baseball game is but one instance of the efforts at all levels of baseball to honor and support America's servicemen and women. Major League Baseball's Welcome Back Veterans initiative is the widest-reaching example of this commitment.