06/09/2008 9:45 AM
Military All-Stars Bounce Back With
4-2 Victory Sunday after 8-1 Loss Saturday
Against Cape Cod Baseball League Squad
The U.S. Military All-Stars scored an impressive 4-2 victory Sunday afternoon at Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth to earn a split in their two-game weekend series against a select team representing the Cape Cod Baseball League. On Saturday night, the Cape squad pounded out an 8-1 victory over the Military All-Stars, who were visiting the Cape for the fourth straight year as part of their “Red, White, and Blue Tour of America.” The tour will visit 40 states and four different countries this summer.
Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Terry Allvord founded the team in 1990 after a conversation with President George H.W. Bush. Since then, the Military All-Stars have criss-crossed the country on 19 tours in an effort to promote awareness of Americans for support of the troops. The players pay all of their own travel expenses and the team declines all government support in order to maximize funds for troops overseas.
Airman 1st Class Jahsan Page (USAF) was named the MVP of Sunday’s game, pitching 5¨ø innings, allowing just three hits and striking out six to earn the win. Petty Officer 2nd Class Ray Judy (USN) sparked the offense with a three-run homer to right field in the top of the sixth inning.
“It was a thrill to come through for the team,” said Judy, who is playing in his seventh and final season with the team. Judy, who has served eight years in the Navy, has had three tours to the Persian Gulf and launched the first plane toward Iraq off the USS Constellation in 2003.
Before the game, Billy Alvino (High Point University) of the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox was asked to catch for the U.S. military team, giving their everyday catcher Alberto German a much-needed day off. Duty assignments and injuries have left the Military All-Stars with just one catcher.
“When they asked me, it was an honor, said Alvino. “For them to be playing baseball while protecting us, it was awesome.”
“We had 137 players on our roster last year,” Allvord said Sunday. “Some players arrived on Friday played Saturday and left after the game. Players who arrived last night played today and have to leave immediately after the game.”
The Cape squad featured two Cape Cod natives in their lineup -- Bourne’s Matt Costello (Volunteer State) and Falmouth’s Scott McNee (Worcester Polytech). “These guys who are playing straight out of the service must be living the dream,” said McNee. “Watching them play, they look like they are having a blast.”
Yarmouth-Dennis field manager Scott Pickler, the 2007 Cape League manager of the years, was at the helm of the Cape League team Sunday. “Those guys have been through a lot,” Pick said. “It was great to watch them win a ball game.” On Saturday night, Harwich manager Steve Englert was at the helm.
Isaac Rodriguez (USMC) pitched 1¨÷ innings of scoreless relief Sunday for the winners. Rodriguez joined the Marines in June 2003 and has served three tours in Iraq. He has been awarded with two Purple Hearts and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement
Elton Shaw (USN) is in his fourth year with the team. Last April marked his ninth year in the Navy after graduating from St. Bonaventure University. “Everyone is here for one reason -- to promote awareness for our troops. But we all love baseball,” said Shaw.
On Saturday night at Harwich’s Whitehouse Field, the military squad discovered what Cape Codders already knew: The Cape Cod Baseball League is loaded with talent. That fact became became evident as the visiting GIs were outplayed and dropped an 8-1 decision to the hastily assembled Cape League team.
“It’s America’s favorite pastime,” said Airman 1st Class and right-handed pitcher Jahsan Page (USAF). Page said he feels lucky to be “playing while serving my country.”
Joe Mercurio (Chatham) said he and his teammates on the Cape team “have a lot of respect for those guys” in the opposing dugout.
Eash of the 10 Cape League franchises contributed two or three players for the two-game series against the military squad, which is culled from a rotating list of players that changes from game to game because of duty assignments.
“They’re all good guys,” said Mercurio, who was the starting catcher for the Cape squad. “They all said ‘hi’ to me as they came to the plate.”
During their brief visit, the military players were fed and housed by Cape League volunteers, much like the college stars who flock to the Cape each year to play in the nation’s No. 1 summer collegiate league. The GIs, and their Cape League opponents, also were treated to a hearty post-game meal at a local restaurant after each game.
They try to make a few personal appearances and see a bit of the Cape while they’re here. This year, a tour of the Barnstable Bat Co. was part of their itinerary.
The military squad is made up of players from all branches of the service, and many are fresh from an overseas deployment. One of the players recently returned from Fallujah, Iraq, while others, including Saturday’s starting pitcher, Matt Munson (USN), served in such places as Asia. Pitching coach Jason Mauloni (USN) brings considerable baseball and service experience to the dugout, with five deployments during his 16 years in the Navy.
Mauloni, like the other players, loves the game, but also is proud to be showing communities across America a different side of the armed forces. “We’re the only contact some towns have with the military,” he said.
Team founder Allvord, a retired Navy helicopter pilot, said, “It’s awesome for us to come here. The Cape people just ‘get it.’ They appreciate what we do.” He said the main reason the relationship between the CCBL and military team works so well is the level of communication and both organizations’ willingness to help each other. “They’ve been there at every turn,” he said.
“I’d love to come back in July or even August after the championships,” Allvord continued. And there is speculation that just might happen. The Military All-Stars were rained out of a scheduled benefit game in Brockton last week and a makeup date has been set for late July. If the pieces fall into place, that just might mean another “invasion” of Cape Cod by the nation’s best military ball players.
Ashley Crosby and Phil Garceau, CCBL Interns