ST. PETERSBURG — The U.S. Special Operations Command moved front and center at the Rays’ Memorial Day matinee on Monday.
The command’s “Rappel Team” delivered the game ball by lowering from Tropicana Field’s A-Ring with the U.S. flag and the POW/MIA flag. The SOCom color guard presented the colors and Gen. Richard Clarke, the head of SOCom, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Staff Sargeant Lauren Montoya of the Warrior Games also threw out a first pitch as part of the Memorial Day festivities.
At the end of the fifth inning, the Rays asked the crowd to observe a national moment of silence.
Both teams wore jerseys emblazoned with the poppy emblem, a symbol of remembrance that draws its origin from the World War I poem In Flanders Fields. Astros pitcher Justin Verlander has helped revive the poppy’s significance with a national campaign. Verlander, whose Wins for Warriors Foundation works to empower military veterans and connect them with the appropriate organizations for the help they need back home, filmed a commercial that aired over the Memorial Day weekend to note the significance of the poppy here in the U.S.
“I think Major League Baseball does a tremendous job honoring a bunch of different holidays. This might be right at the top of the list,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Just a big impact throughout the US, throughout the world. So, it’s great for baseball and great for our players and everybody affiliated with baseball to be able to give a little bit of a thought and remembrance to everything that’s been provided to us.”