Friday, June 13, 2003

Reds, Army celebrate Flag Day


Saturday game to include patriotic recognition of troops

By Andrea Uhde
The Cincinnati Enquirer

What's more American than a bunch of fans chomping on hot dogs and sipping beer at Great American Ball Park?

Those same fans waving American flags and cheering as veterans of the war with Iraq throw the ceremonial first pitch of the game.

Baseball, Flag Day and the Army's 228th birthday will converge in a mix of true Americana on Saturday, said Ken Horinko, a spokesman for the Army Accessions Command.

"Army and baseball have had a tie throughout the years," he said. "There have been a lot of players who served in the war."

The Reds and the Army have teamed up to provide spectators at Saturday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies with a red, white and blue bonanza.

Among festivities: 10,000 fans will receive miniature American flags, the 113th Army Band from Fort Knox, Ky., will perform the national anthem, and about 50 soldiers will be recognized as the Army's newest enlistees.

Postcards from the Army's "Support Your Soldiers" program will be available for fans to sign and send to soldiers overseas, and the Army's Cincinnati Recruiting Company color guard will perform.

Sgt. 1st Class Danny Lee Linville and Sgt. Kenny Gutierrez, both of whom recently returned from Iraq and are stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., will throw out the ceremonial first ball of the game.

"To me, it's a great honor," said Linville, 35, of Clermont County, who spent months in the western desert of Iraq.

"I grew up with the Big Red Machine," he said. "I have a room that has nothing but Cincinnati Reds memorabilia."

The Army was officially created on June 14, 1775, exactly two years before the Continental Congress adopted the American flag. June 14 is now recognized as Flag Day in the United States.

The theme of the celebration is "U.S. Army: At War and Transforming." Including the Reds game, 11 Major League games Saturday are to participate in the celebration. There will also be celebrations at Arena Football 2 games, a National Hot Rod Association race in Columbus and other events.

"I think it's always good to help celebrate the birthday of the Army, since they play such a big part, especially in the last few months," said Molly Mott, corporate services manager for the Reds.

Tickets for the Reds vs. Phillies game Saturday are available at Great American Ball Park ticket windows, the Reds Dugout Shop, at all area Tickets.com outlets, or at www.cincinnatireds.mlb.com. For more information, call the Reds ticket office at 765-7400. Prices start at $9 a person. The game starts at 7:10 p.m.

E-mail auhde@enquirer.com




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