Hounds are ready to host U.S. Military All-Stars

Published 9:51 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Austin Greyhounds are about to face one of their toughest challenges of the summer and only part of it will be coming from the team the Hounds are lining up against Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in Marcusen Park.

The toughest part of Austin’s matchup against the U.S. Military All-Stars may be just to keep their emotions in line, especially when Sergeant Nicholas Dickhut, who was killed in Afghanistan, is honored before the game.

“A lot of (Military All-Stars) players are just like him and there will be some wet eyes on the baseline,” Hounds manager John Frein said. “This goes beyond baseball and it’s real life.”

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The U.S. Military All-Stars have a total roster of about 200 total players and the team includes current and former servicemen who are looking for a break from the stress of being overseas.

Frein said the All-Stars will bring plenty of talent on the field.

“They’re the globetrotters of traveling baseball,” Frein said. “A lot of them played higher level Division I college baseball or pro baseball. They take a lot of pride in representing the military.”

The process to bring in the All-Stars began in January and it’s been a tireless effort ever since. There are plans to bring in veterans from the VFW and Legion in town and there will be live playing of ‘Taps’ before the game.

“It’s been one of those things where you don’t keep track of your hours,” said Paul Spyhalski, who has worked on setting up the game since day one. “There’s a lot of work that’s gone on behind the scenes and hopefully people will be able to come out and enjoy it. It could be a big night for Marcusen Park.”

Frein said the whole experience of setting up the game has made him appreciate the work that service men and women do around the world. He said that one of the players on the All-Stars was one of the soldiers who helped capture Saddam Hussein in 2003.

“These are real life military heroes and going through this process is an eye opener,” Frein said. “We’re trying to raise awareness for our military heroes and wounded warriors. These could be guys that are on a temporary leave that are just trying to get a break on a two-week baseball tour.”

Tickets for the game are $5 pre-sale at Hy-Vee or $7 at the gate.