Each month throughout the season, the Bowie Baysox hold a Military Appreciation Night to honor active and former members of the armed forces. On July 31, the Baysox will give away a Military Heroes Baseball Card Set presented by Andrews Federal Credit Union to the first 1,000 fans age 18 and older.
The giveaway and pregame ceremony will honor select military members, mostly from the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., areas.
"Military Heroes Appreciation Night is just one of the many promotions the Baysox host throughout the season to honor military members and their families," Baysox communications manager Matt Wilson said. "We host monthly Military Appreciation Nights, and also specific nights to recognize the men and women serving at the United States Naval Academy, Fort Meade and Joint Base Andrews. This area is full of individuals who are busy serving our country, and we take pride in the many events we host to show our appreciation for their service."
This marks the second season the Baysox have held the giveaway, and after the success of last year's event, the organization added to it. The 35-card set is up from the 27 cards that were given away last season, and there will be a game-used jersey auction. After the July 31 game, there will also be a fireworks display sponsored by Andrews Federal Credit Union.
To fill the card set, the Baysox received entries on their website during April and May.
"After the deadline May 14, Baysox staff selected the final list, making every effort to ensure different branches of service and military members who served in different decades were all evenly represented," Wilson said.
In addition to honoring the select armed forces with the card set, the members and their family members will be recognized during some portion of the game.
"Each individual represented on the card set, if still with us, and his or her family, will be invited to the game July 31," Wilson said. "The Baysox will be offering four free box seat tickets to the game, and any of the heroes in attendance will have a chance to be recognized in person on the field before, during or after the game. Last year, we had a great turnout from the individuals honored with the cards, and it made for a very special night at the ballpark."
One of the individuals selected by the Baysox was Fifth Coast Guard Reserve force master chief Mark Allen. Retired for 13 years, Allen was nominated by his niece, Sharon Pilachowski, and her husband, Tim Pilachowski.
"I feel humbled by this kind and generous honor by the Bowie Baysox," Allen said. "I do not feel like a hero, especially in light of so many troops and veterans who have given so much for so long. Less than 1 percent of Americans bear the military's burden today. My wife, Colleen, and I simply have done our best with the available opportunities and challenges. ... I gratefully accept this honor on behalf of Coast Guard reserve and active members at home and deployed throughout the world, many in harm's way."
When first hearing of the event, Tim and Sharon Pilachowski knew this was something they wanted to nominate their uncle for because of his previous and continued work for the Coast Guard.
"Uncle Mark has had so many accomplishments in his 37-year career, including his most recent in becoming the master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard Reserve Force, as well as being one of the founders of ‘Flags Across America,' placing flags on the graves of fallen sailors," Tim Pilachowski said. "During his retirement, he has continued recruiting. We find ourselves trying to recruit young men and women due to his influence and example."
Colleen Allen is looking forward to seeing both her husband and the Coast Guard recognized at the event.
"I think it is a good thing that the Bowie Baysox organization is honoring our veterans, our service members and our military branches," Colleen Allen said. "Our Coast Guard is sometimes forgotten when the other four military branches are recognized, so it's great to that the Bowie Baysox is honoring all five of our armed services and their heroes."
The Baysox organization has received a positive response during its two seasons holding the event and giveaway, and it is something Wilson said fans should expect to see during future seasons.
"We had a great response during the nomination process this year, and this is an event that our fans seem to respond very favorably to, so it's something I think we will continue in future seasons," Wilson said. "It's a great way to go above and beyond to recognize a group of local current or former members of the military."
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