First Pitch, Lasting Memory

On February 14, 2014, most people were celebrating Valentine’s Day. That morning, I was celebrating the request of a lifetime.
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As a PR director, I’m always looking for positive stories. My goal is to always find great media coverage for the Charlotte Knights. Sometimes you have to dig deep though. But on that day, what fell into my hands was something that immediately touched my life.

I sat down at my desk in Uptown Charlotte as a member of the Charlotte Knights that morning and I read a very special email.

I received an email from Philip Elmore, Gunner’s Mate 1st Class, US Navy, who had a special request. The East Mecklenburg High School graduate was currently overseas in Sembach Germany. He was stationed at the Navy Warrior Transition Program — but knew he would be coming home. He planned to arrive in Charlotte on May 9 and had an idea that he wanted to share with me. He wanted to surprise his daughter, who he hadn’t seen since October.

Elmore, who joined the Navy in 1986, had a special surprise in mind. Initially, he wanted to surprise his daughter by dressing up as a mascot and then showing his face to his eight-year-old daughter Isabella.

Just this past December at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida, I watched a video of a surprise at a Minor League Baseball game. A Military dad surprised his child by dressing up as a catcher and catching their first pitch. The reveal was touching. You couldn’t help but get emotional.

When I suggested that to Philip, he agreed. He loved the idea — especially since he was a catcher in Little League!

twitter 1I then forwarded his information over to Promotions Manager Matt Spezialetti, who coordinated everything with him. With Elmore in Germany, the two planned the big reveal. As the weeks went by, the anticipation began to grow. Great job Matt — this could not have been done without you.

More recently, Charlotte Knights Community Relations Director Lindsey Roycraft and Knights VP of Marketing Mark Smith helped move things along. When May 9th finally came around, there were many people at BB&T Ballpark — including Philip Elmore, very eager and excited for the big reveal.

After donning the full catcher’s equipment, Philip was ready. First, Isabella Elmore — Philip’s eight-year-old daughter — was introduced to the crowd at BB&T Ballpark. Initially, she was told by the Knights that she won a contest as a member of the Junior Knights Kids Club. When she got down to the field, she walked to the mound ready to throw out her first pitch. Little did she know that the pitch would go to her dad.

After watching a taped video from her dad on the ballpark’s videoboard, she was ready to throw out  the pitch. After she did, Philip emerged from home plate and took off his catcher’s mask. Isabella noticed her dad and they embraced on the field.

It was a touching moment. I still get goosebumps when I watch it. I have seen it over 20 times. I’m sure I will watch it many more over the coming days/weeks.

It’s moments like this that make me realize just how lucky I am to be in the position that I am in. The Charlotte Knights beat the Buffalo Bisons 5-3 on Friday, but the win of the night took place on the pitcher’s mound before the game even started.

Congratulations to the Elmore family. We are so honored and privileged to be a part of your special day. It was wonderful to be able to share that moment.

Thank you Philip for thinking of us and thank you for letting us all in on one of the most memorable events ever at BB&T Ballpark. I’m sure this day will stick with many people for days and years to come.

Watch the full video on Knights TV.

Check out my photo gallery.

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