By Danielle DeSimone
Kansas City Royals legends George Brett, Bret Saberhagen, Reggie Sanders and Mike Sweeney traveled with the USO this week to four sites in the Middle East to bring the excitement of the baseball diamond to service members deployed overseas.
An important stop on the Royals’ tour was USO Camp Buehring in Kuwait to visit the Missouri National Guard 35th Combat Aviation Brigade, headquartered in Sedalia, Missouri – about a one-hour drive from Kauffman Stadium, the home of the Royals. Many of the deployed service members were loyal Royals fans, making Brett, Saberhagen Sanders and Sweeney’s visit all the more special.
“It’s a very humbling gesture that the Royals and the folks that will be traveling with the Royals are going to make for this particular trip,” said Army National Guard Capt. Aaron Shaffer in an interview with The Kansas City Star before the tour. “We’ve got a lot of people here who are die-hard, great Royals fans and the types of fans that go back to the ‘80s. … It’s going to be an amazing experience.”
Every year, the Kansas City Royals recognizes service members with an Armed Forces Night at Kauffman Stadium, but this year was especially significant. At the Sept. 11 game, the team connected live from Missouri with service members and Royals legends at USO Camp Buehring in Kuwait during their “This One’s for You” telecast. The first pitch was at 7:15 p.m. Central time – or, 3:15 a.m. in Kuwait, and Brett, Saberhagen, Sanders and Sweeney watched the Royals play the Chicago White Sox live on the American Forces Network alongside the Missouri National Guard 35th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Kansas City Royals greats Reggie Sanders, George Brett, Bret Saberhagen and Mike Sweeney traveled to Kuwait this week to connect with American service members and show their gratitude for our men and women in uniform. USO Photo by Neal Preston.
Former right fielder for the Kansas City Royals, Reggie Sanders, high-fives a service member during a pickup game of softball in Kuwait. USO Photo by Neal Preston.
Former Kansas City Royals third baseman and designated hitter George Brett, who played for the Royals for 21 years, spends time with service members at a pickup softball game. USO Photo by Neal Preston
Reggie Sanders takes a photo with a fan while on a USO Tour with Kansas City Royals greats in Kuwait. USO Photo by Neal Preston.
Former Kansas City Royals designated hitter and first baseman Mike Sweeney, who played for the Royals for 13 seasons, gets a taste of life in Kuwait while on tour with the USO. USO Photo by Neal Preston.
Service members and Kansas City Royals greats came together to watch the Sept. 11, 2018, game in Kansas City, Mo., live while on tour with the USO in Kuwait. USO Photo by Neal Preston.
“I can speak for all of the guys when I say we are incredibly honored and humbled by the sacrifice our military men and women make, home and abroad,“ said Royals Hall of Famer Sweeney in an interview with FOX Sports Kansas City. "We are just as honored and humbled to be asked to represent the Royals, FSKC and our great nation on this outreach to the troops.”
“I have always tried to support our military, and to be given this opportunity to partner with the USO to visit our service members halfway around the world is an honor and I am sure an experience I will never forget,” said Brett, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
During the game, service members connected with family members attending the game and talked to each other during the broadcast. During the visit, the group also took part in a military working dog demonstration, got an close-up view of aircraft and the service members who work on them and played a pickup game of softball. FOX Sports host Joel Goldberg and renowned rock photographer Neal Preston also joined the tour.
“The opportunity for the USO to partner with FOX Sports and Kansas City Royals to bring this unique opportunity to the soldiers of the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade is very exciting for us,” said USO Senior Vice President of Brand Advancement Paul Allvin. “We keep service members connected to family, home, and country, so being able to provide our deployed service members the ability to watch their favorite team and directly communicate with their family members is a great opportunity for us to do just that.”
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