The Pilots hosted the Heroes of the Diamond on Monday
The Newark Pilots used their day off from league play on Monday, July 25 to host the Heroes of the Diamond, a traveling team of U.S. Military All-Stars who are currently on their “Road to Ground Zero Flag Tour.”
For the first and probably only time this season, the final score did not matter. The most important outcome was the memories that the players, coaches and 1,700 fans in attendance were able to take home with them.
“I have some family and friends that served or are still serving overseas,” said Chris Ebright, the manager of the Newark Pilots. “It really hit home. It gave us all goose bumps.”
The Heroes of the Diamond roster is made up of active servicemen and veterans from the different branches of the military. The team was established in 1990 as a way to help gain support for our Armed Forces.
“This year is kind of special to us because we are traveling with the Ground Zero Flag, the flag that started with our owner [Terry] ‘Crash’ Allvord,” said U.S. Army Ranger Karl Seiter, who serves as the team’s field manager. Seiter was also a part of the Lubbock Christian team that made it to the NAIA World Series Finals this past spring.
“When September 11, 2001 happened, immediately ‘Crash’ was down at the World Trade Center and that was the first flag that flew at Ground Zero,” said Seiter.
It is also the same flag that flew during former president George W. Bush’s “Bullhorn Speech.” The Heroes of the Diamond are presenting the Ground Zero Flag at all of their games this year, giving people all across the country a chance to see it.
At 9:11 p.m., the game was paused as U.S. Navy Airman Steve Evans, who was aboard the USS Carl Vinson when it buried Osama bin Laden at sea, presented the Ground Zero Flag on the field. God Bless America was performed at that time to honor all of those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks.
In a pregame ceremony, Richard Kraus was honored by the Heroes of the Diamond as a local hero. Kraus, who is originally from Newark and currently resides in Palmyra, was awarded a Purple Heart in 1968.
As for the action on the field, the Pilots did fall 5-1. Frankie Cervantes pitched a gem for the Heroes of the Diamond, surrendering only one run in eight innings of work while recording 13 strikeouts.
“I’m out here supporting one of my brothers who lost a leg in Iraq. He’s back at home so I’m here doing him a big favor,” said Cervantes, who played in the Can-Am League last year.
Village of Newark Judge Mike Miller started the game on the mound for the Pilots. Miller pitched his last baseball game on the same mound at Colburn Park back on July 27, 1985. He gave up one run in the first inning.
“I was never in the military, but I have the highest gratitude for what they have done and continue to do,” said Miller. “I’m glad they came here to do this.”
Despite the final score, all the players will remember this game for a long time.
“Competing against these guys was really special and I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life,” said Newark pitcher Matt Mika (St. John Fisher). “How many people can say they played against the military?”