Flag will always mean more to some Marlins

Jennings, Bour overcome with U.S. pride after visiting troops in Middle East

Flag will always mean more to some Marlins

CHICAGO -- Before taking the field on Saturday night against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, a couple of members of the Marlins reflected on what playing on the Fourth of July truly means.

Over the past year and a half, manager Dan Jennings and first baseman Justin Bour each represented the organization on separate overseas trips to visit United States troops stationed around the world.

In December, Bour was part of the contingent that traveled to Southwest Asia, including Qatar.

To this day, when Bour sees the American flag at the ballpark, he takes a moment to reflect.

"A couple of guys in charge when I was in Qatar, they're like, 'Hey, from now on, when you guys look at the flag before the game, just think about us here in Qatar, and think about all the men and women, and what they're doing; we just hope it has a little more meaning to you," Bour said. "Ever since then, it has."

Jennings represented the Marlins in January 2014 on a trip to Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Jennings, the general manager-turned-manager, said the experience was unforgettable.

"Honestly, outside of winning the [2003] World Series, that was the most rewarding thing I've ever done since I've been involved in baseball," Jennings said. "We went to pay respects to the troops. As it turned out, they welcomed us and treated us with such hospitality. You almost felt they were happy to see us. It's almost of a reversal of the reason we went."

To honor the Fourth of July, all MLB teams on Saturday sported red, white and blue caps.

"This is one of my absolute favorite days, for baseball," Bour said. "I feel there is a little more behind [the game] on the Fourth of July. I was fortunate enough to go on an overseas trip this year and got to talk to a lot of men and women who are willing to sacrifice their lives every single day, so I'm able to do what I'm doing every day.

"I feel really blessed to be able to do this."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.