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Rainiers to salute the Armed Forces

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:48PM June 5th, 2014

Baseball fans at Joint Base Lewis-McChord have another opportunity to enjoy a day that honors the nation’s military members at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium this weekend.

The Tacoma Rainiers, the triple-A affiliate of the Mariners, invites service members from all military branches and their families to celebrate their 30th annual Salute to Armed Forces Sunday during a game against the Albuquerque Isotopes, a Los Angeles Dodgers farm team. Local service and family members can take advantage of a variety of discounts, offers and special activities at the game.

What makes the Rainiers’ event special to JBLM residents and employees is that Cheney Stadium is only an approximate 15-minute drive from the installation.

“One thing that we (as an organization) have realized is that our proximity to JBLM gives us a chance to honor these folks on a day-by-day basis,” said Ben Spradling, director of communications for the Rainiers. “We would love to grow closer to the local service members.”

Gates open at noon with the first pitch scheduled at 1:35 p.m. with a pregame ceremony honoring veterans and active duty service members of all branches.

The Rainiers will wear military-themed uniform, which fans will have a chance to bid on in the concourse in a USO Northwest-sponsored silent auction during the game.

Spradling said the jerseys of every Rainier suited up for the game and those assigned to the team will be available, noting Mariner pitchers James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are on the Tacoma roster on rehab assignments.

“You have to seize your baseball opportunity,” Spradling said. “They could disappear in a week.”

In addition to the Rainiers’ offering their USO suite and tickets through the “Red, White and Blue Program,” there are two ticket packages offered to military members.

A military group/children’s ticket for $22.50 includes a reserved seat ticket, an Army vs. Navy T-shirt and a ballpark meal of a hot dog, chips and water. The $35.50 premium ticket comes with the T-shirt, reserved seat and free beer at designated stands.

Tickets are available for purchase online at www. tacomarainiers.com until three hours before first pitch.

“We are shooting for a packed house,” Spradling said. “Right now, we’re close to it.”

Another new addition to the annual Salute to Armed Forces is the Army vs. Navy softball game Monday, at 6 p.m., at Cheney Stadium. Admission to the game is free and features JBLM Soldiers.

“Ideally, this is going to be the first incarnation into something that is going to be much, much larger,” Spradling said.