The Sandgnats found out I was coming home that week and wanted me to attend the June 23, 2005 as a military appreciation day. I found out early on June 23rd that the Washington Nationals first round pick Ryan Zimmerman was going to make his first pro start that night. I was already going to throw out the first pitch in the game, and then I asked if I could meet Zimmerman. Not only did I meet Zimmerman in the dugout before the game, I got to take a couple swings with him in batting practice at Grayson Stadium in Savannah. After batting practice, he then held my daughter Hannah and son Joshua for a few moments and the very first ball he hit professionally in batting practice. The ball my son is holding in the picture below was the ball he first hit and signed for my son before the gates opened.
|Ryan Zimmerman in his first pro game signing our baseball
|Zimmerman and me after the first pitch
Not only did he sign the ticket he told me it would be an honor to catch the ball on the first pitch of the game. It was an awesome feeling, just thinking less than a week before I was in battle in Iraq, I got to see my new born baby girl and now I am meeting one of my new favorite players! His first at bat he struck out, and did go 0-3 in his first pro game. But I was at the next two games and he ended up hitting the cover off the ball ending with 2 HR in three games in Savannah.
|Zimmerman 2005 Savannah Sandgnats Stats