Collegiate summer league baseball team pays tribute to U.S. Military All-Stars
By DYLAN WALLACE | The Times, Munster, Ind. | Published: July 23, 2019
WHITING, Ind. (Tribune News Service) — NWI Oilmen outfielder Tommy Farrell helped bring in some of the Indiana Fallen Soldiers signs, which covered the grounds outside Oil City Stadium.
When he looked down at the picture on the first sign he brought in, he knew it wasn’t going to be an ordinary baseball game Monday night.
For the fourth time, the Oilmen — a summer-league team in the Midwest Collegiate League — played host to the U.S. Military All-Stars.
“Any opportunity like this for an exhibition to fill the stands and help these guys understand what other people go through in order to give us the lives that we have is always a welcome experience,” Oilmen manager Kevin Tyrrell said.
For U.S. Military All-Star captain Cody Hyde, Whiting is his favorite stop on the team’s Red, White and Blue Tour. So far, the team has played more than 15 games in Oregon, Washington and Illinois.
Hyde was a part of the team that played the Oilmen in 2013.
“The community here is second to none,” Hyde said. “When I saw it back on the tour this year, I was telling all the guys, ‘Hey man, when we get to the Oilmen stadium in Whiting, Indiana, like this place is the best.’ They go above and beyond for us every year.”
The U.S. Military All-Stars were decked out in camouflage uniforms with knee-high red, white and blue socks. Even the umpires were wearing camouflage tops.
The pregame ceremonies were the usual at a baseball game with the national anthem and first pitch, but in-between those events was the passing of the flags ceremony. The honorees of that ceremony were three gold star families who founded the Indiana Fallen Heroes.
Indiana Fallen Heroes was originated after a class from Boone Grove Middle School was assigned to look up a fallen soldier in Indiana and do a short bio on them with a picture. The gold star families in attendance Monday adopted that idea to create the Indiana Fallen Heroes.
“Our goal is to raise awareness throughout the state,” said Debbie Rosewinkel, one of the Indiana Fallen Heroes founders. “We want all of them to know that their loved one is not forgotten.”
After the fifth inning, the teams joined the Indiana Fallen Heroes to honor those who lost their lives in battle since Sept. 11, 2001.
“You don’t realize how easy we have it until you understand what they go through to keep it easy for us,” Tyrrell said. “Our lives are made a lot better and we have the freedoms that we have because of these people.”
The same signs that Farrell helped bring in and set up around the stadium were passed out during that fifth-inning ceremony. It’s what makes the Whiting experience a little more special to Hyde and company.
“It’s a heartfelt experience and brings tears to your eyes every time,” Hyde said. “It’s not about the baseball game. It’s more about honoring those guys and it’s a very humbling experience for me and the guys to be out here.”