Army Maj. Rick Strong’s Fourth of July filled with pretty awesome surprises at Progressive Field

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Army Maj. Rick Strong, back stateside after a deployment overseas, was surprised on Friday night — to say the least.

Strong, a Parma native and Valley Forge High grad, was in Cleveland visiting friends and family for the holiday weekend. What he didn’t know was his wife, Nikki, had something brewing: She and the Indians had Rick believing he was at the ballpark for a guys’ night out.

Instead, he found a couple dozen friends and family waiting for him at the ballpark.

But there was more: His wife had brought his uniform with him, and told him the Indians would be paying tribute to him on the field before the game. That was partially true: There was a ceremonial first pitch in it for Rick as well!

It was all part of the Indians Homestand Heroes military tribute event. As part of the event, the Indians honored fallen, current and future military heroes before and after the game on the Fourth.

As for Rick’s first pitch, he was a little nervous – his first words when seeing his wife and friends were, “I’m not throwing a first pitch, am I?” He was, in fact, something he learned later. Indians Manager Terry Francona caught the first pitch, which ended up a little low and outside.

All in all, a heck of a day for Rick, the Indians and all military branches. Here is video of his big night:

–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond

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