Red Sox pitch support to Camp Zama community
Stars and Stripes March 23, 2008
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Having been in Japan for barely 12 hours, four members of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox took time out of their schedules to visit Camp Zama on Friday.
Pitchers Mike Timlin, Bryan Corey, Tim Wakefield and Curt Schilling spent a couple of hours at Zama’s Yano Fitness Center meeting with fans and signing autographs.
The event began with opening remarks from Maj. Gen. Elbert N. Perkins, U.S. Army Japan commanding general, followed by a gift exchange between the command and the players, and a brief speech from Schilling.
“What an honor it is to be among this group of people,” said Schilling, who addressed the crowd on behalf of his teammates. Schilling spoke about how words such as “warrior” and “courage” are used a lot in professional sports but stressed that the real warriors are servicemembers such as those at Camp Zama.
After the opening remarks, the players and fans settled down to business: handshakes and autographs.
Baseball fans of all ages lined up for their chance to meet the players. The crowd consisted of both American and Japanese fans, including the Zama High School Trojans softball team and three Japanese boys baseball teams from the local area.
“This is a great opportunity for our soldiers, their families and the community to get a chance to see the world champion Boston Red Sox as they come and visit the base,” Perkins said.
The Red Sox are in Japan to play the Major League Baseball season-opening series against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Tokyo Dome.
One fan who is taking full advantage of the two games is Boston native Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Cogan.
“I was born and raised in Boston and have been a fan all my life,” he said. “I had to go all over to get tickets for both games.”
Continuing the family’s legacy as a member of Red Sox nation is Cogan’s 11-year-old son Andrew.
“It was really awesome getting to meet them for the first time,” Andrew said.
Another fan who had an equally “awesome” experience was Canton, Mass., native and die-hard Sox fan Col. Bob DeYeso, who had the chance to introduce the players to the crowd.
“It was a dream come true,” he said. “I feel like I’m 8 years old up in the bleachers again.”
DeYeso said that he feels honored that the players came to Camp Zama, the only military installation the major league players are visiting in Japan.
He added that he was impressed that the players made it to the base after playing an exhibition game Wednesday night in Florida and then immediately boarding a plane for the long flight to Japan.
Busy signing autographs until the last possible minute of the session, Wakefield explained why it was important to make the trip to Zama.
“It’s really special for me to be able to give back to the military,” he said. “People label us as heroes, but the people here in this room — they are the real heroes.”