When nine-year-old Alayna Adams threw out the ceremonial first pitch in the Tampa Bay Rays' home contest against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night, nothing could prepare her for the pleasant surprise behind home plate.
Alayna's father, Army Lieutenant Colonel William Adams, had just wrapped up a one-year deployment in Afghanistan. Unbeknownst to his daughter, he disguised himself in catcher's gear and caught Alayna's toss.
Then he lifted his mask, and a stunned Alayna ran into her father's arms and then was joined by her mother.
MLB.com captured the unique revelation, which was organized by United Service Organizations Inc., whose main goal as a nonprofit organization is to essentially lift morale and spirits of U.S. troops and their families.
Given the result of this touching gesture at Tropicana Field, USO can consider this mission accomplished.
"For a second, I felt like it was a dream," said Alayna (per the video).
The Army veteran informed those in attendance of his identity in a video message played before the game. Despite that, William Adams' wife and daughter were totally in the dark. That's what made it so special.
The hosting Rays lost 4-3 to drop a second consecutive game to their American League East division rivals. However, nothing could devalue the way William Adams was able to celebrate the wonderful occasion of returning home with his immediate family.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!