- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Bush ushered in the third season of T-ball on the South Lawn yesterday with two squads of children from Virginia military bases.

“Today we honor the men and women who wear our nation’s uniform, and it is our honor to welcome two teams, two mighty squads” from the military bases, Mr. Bush said before placing the first ball in the tee and yelling “play ball.”

The Little League Yankees from Norfolk Naval Station faced the Little League Braves of Fort Belvoir. The first- and third-base coaches were Army and Navy servicemen, respectively; the national anthem singer was an Air Force master sergeant; the color guard was a Boy Scout troop from the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va.; and the band was made up of Coast Guard personnel.

Retired Baltimore Orioles star Cal Ripken Jr. returned for a second season as Mr. Bush’s T-ball commissioner. Mr. Ripken remarked on the significance of these military families reuniting at the game after serving in the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq.

“In some small way, baseball took my dad away, in a totally different context,” Mr. Ripken, whose father was a Major League Baseball player, told reporters. “I think that it’s cool that they’re out there and they’re reunited and they’re just having fun the way families are supposed to have fun.”

No score is kept in the T-ball games, but the contest yesterday featured plenty of action on a sunny second day of summer.

T.J. Flood, 6, of the Little League Braves, hit an inside-the-park home run with a hard drive to right-center.

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