A lot of Major League Baseball games are on tap today.
Before the first pitch is thrown in each contest, the national anthem, like always, will be performed. Men and boys will remove their hats and ballcaps, and law enforcement officers and military guests will be saluting.
Being that it's Memorial Day, there's of course a special significance to the "Star Spangled Banner," which was penned by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812.
By the way, "What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming," is my favorite line in the song.
After the song, the games will get underway.
Interesting, isn't it, how baseball and Memorial Day share some common terms but with different interpretations - like in sacrifice and taking one for the team.
If I were to ask you who leads MLB in bunting the runner over a base, you might be hard-pressed to reply.
Hey, it's a federal holiday, and in the spirit of sacrifice hits, you really should know. Just kidding.
OK, right-hander Bronson Arroyo of the Cincinnati Reds has eight.
Here's another one for you. Which batter has been hit by a pitch the most times?
Don't have a clue, do you?
Well, second baseman Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies has been plunked nine times. Next is catcher Kelly Shoppach of the Cleveland Indians and outfielder Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox, with eight HBPs.
When reflecting on Memorial Day...well, from Gettysburg to Argonne Forest to Iwo Jima to Chosin Reservoir to Khe Sanh to Fallujah, many, many men and women took one for the team.
Allow me introduce you to three guys who were on that team - Scott Bechtold, Jimmy Widener, and Jim Tangeman. And, while they weren't baseball players, each made a sacrifice.
I mention their names, because I actually knew them - two well and one in passing. All will be forever young, having served and died for their country in a strange, far-off land long, long ago.
All were very good athletes.
Bechtold was a high school runner; Widener, a prep wrestler; and Tangeman, a college basketball player.
Needless to say, all are missed terribly by their families.
Each year on the last Monday of May, Bechtold, Widener, Tangeman, and millions of servicemen like them, are remembered and honored. They are America's real heroes - and not the MLB home run hitters or 20-game winners on the diamond.
"And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there."
I like that line in Key's song, too.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441, or a firstname.lastname@example.org