Just happy to be there
Major League Baseball welcomed 70 members of the U.S. Air Force's 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base and about 20 members of local Coast Guard units to unfurl that giant American flag before the start of the World Series on Wednesday.
Then it was goodbye.
None of the members of the armed forces got to stay in Tropicana Field for Game 1. Instead, each volunteer got two Rays tickets for a 2009 game to be named later.
"They told us up front" that no volunteers would be able to stay for the World Series, said Lt. Rebecca Heyse, the wing's public affairs officer.
Major League Baseball released this statement through Rays vice president of communications Rick Vaughn:
"The volunteers agreed to participate knowing ahead of time that they would receive tickets to a 2009 home game and not the game that night. It is a common practice among pro sports teams hosting sold-out events."
But the volunteers did get to hang out at the Trop and watch batting practice before the game. Airman 1st Class Brandyn Strickland, a 22-year-old from Dayton, Ohio, watched BP while standing in the outfield.
"I'm not disappointed," Strickland said. "I'm looking forward to next season."
-- Jamal Thalji, Times Staff Writer