Special day for military couple — first pitches at the ballpark!

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When Naval Commander Stormi Looney received an email from her husband, Lieutenant Commander Baylen Looney, back in January, she quietly set it aside and got to work. Little did Baylen know, she took him seriously.

“I never responded; didn’t do anything,” Stormi said. “But behind the scenes, I started working and trying to get him [to a game], the ability to throw out the first pitch.”

The couple will both retire from the Navy in a few months. At Stormi’s retirement celebration yesterday, she surprised her husband with a retirement gift. She handed him a baseball that read, “Retirement wish granted.”

“First, I had no idea. I thought it was a signed ball from one of the players that I had signed back in the day,” Baylen said. “Then, when she talked a little more, she threw out the words ‘first pitch,’ and I was overwhelmed because I get to throw a pitch from a big league pitcher’s mound. I’ve always wanted to do that, having pitched in college and growing up as a kid.”

Stormi had to explain to Baylen that he would be tossing a ceremonial first pitch prior to the Cleveland Indians game the following day.

“He just about cried. He didn’t let the tear fall, but almost,” Stormi said. “He’s played baseball since he was 5 — played in high school, played in college, still plays in the old guy league.”

The couple arrived at Progressive Field on Thursday with three of their sons, Prospective Midshipman Fourth Class Joshua Looney, Midshipman Second Class Jourdan Looney, and Midshipman Candidate Jeremiah Looney.

Through all of Stormi’s planning and trickery, she was unaware of what the Indians organization had up its sleeve. Once she escorted Baylen to the mound to throw his first pitch, they handed her a baseball and the couple threw simultaneous first pitches.

For Baylen, this was the chance of a lifetime.

“It was awesome; for me, I am most comfortable between those lines,” he said. “I played baseball every day of my life since I was 5 years old. When I walked on the field, I thought I would get a little [nervous] — none of that.”

“I almost hit the catcher,” Stormi said. “I was afraid I was going to do a 50 Cent or not get all the way to the catcher.”

Baylen interrupted, “It was not a 50 Cent.”

The couple is celebrating its 23rd wedding anniversary this year. Asked how she has dealt with Baylen for so many years, Stormi did not hesitate.

“He probably puts up with me more than I put up with him,” she said.

And, with the exception of one particular email that Stormi never responded to, Baylen says she is “the rock,” and she somehow manages to keep him in line.

“She’s wonderful; we have a fantastic, strong family. She’s the cornerstone that keeps us all together,” Baylen said. “Whenever I need something, I’m always like, ‘Hey, have you seen my whatever? Can you find this? Can you help me with that?’ She sends me my calendar updates, so if it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t be standing here today.”

-TribeVibe contributor Megan Golden

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