Fort Bragg is the most populated military installation in the United States and is home to the Army's Global Response Force, which provides strategic military capabilities globally in defense of our nation's security interests. The installation is virtually a city in itself, consisting of more than 250,000 people, encompassing an area of almost 500 square miles, with an annual impact of $9.8 billion to the local economy.
Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said: "Major League Baseball's boundless gratitude to our military has led us to a unique event that will benefit the men and women of Fort Bragg and their families for many years. I thank the Braves and the Marlins for their participation and all of our Clubs and Players for contributing to this gesture, which will stand as a fitting new chapter in the National Pastime's proud and distinguished military history."
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said: "As the son of a Navy officer, I am extremely proud to stand with all Players and Major League Baseball as we honor our nation's military and our country, through the playing of a regular season game in historic Fort Bragg on Fourth of July weekend. Many players are the grandsons, sons and brothers of men and women who have served or continue to serve our country. This one-of-a-kind ballpark construction project provides us with an opportunity to say 'thank you' to all who serve to protect our great nation."
Col. Brett Funck, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander, said: "We're extremely grateful to Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association for their support to our Service members and families. This historic event and the converted multipurpose facility will have enduring benefits for our entire Fort Bragg community for years to come."
Braves President John Schuerholz said: "The Atlanta Braves organization is extremely honored to be chosen to play in the Fort Bragg Game and to entertain some of our nation's patriot men and women. It is special for our fans and our entire organization that we are playing this game in Braves Country - Fort Bragg, North Carolina."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said: "This is a unique and exciting chance to play in front of some of our military troops and their families. We have tremendous respect for what they do and it is an honor for us to have this opportunity."
Marlins Owner/Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey H. Loria said: "It's a distinct honor to play the Atlanta Braves at Fort Bragg, one of our nation's oldest and most revered military bases. It also makes sense for America's pastime to honor real American heroes by playing this regular season game for the soldiers and fans."
Marlins manager Don Mattingly said: "It is a privilege for the entire Marlins organization to bring our team to Fort Bragg in a show of gratitude for our servicemen and women and their families. The opportunity to participate in this game is truly humbling."
Many former Major League players served the United States honorably, forming a history that MLB has sought to celebrate. Since 2008, MLB has been a major supporter of Welcome Back Veterans (welcomebackveterans.org), an initiative of Major League Baseball Charities and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation that addresses the mental health and jobs needs of returning American Veterans. Welcome Back Veterans provides grants to university hospitals throughout the country that administer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) treatment to veterans and their families in a public/private partnership. MLB and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation have committed more than $30 million to Welcome Back Veterans, including approximately $23 million in grants awarded to non-profit agencies and hospitals that support veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. MLB has conducted various fundraising and awareness efforts for Welcome Back Veterans on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, September 11th remembrances and during the World Series.
In addition to those Major Leaguers who have served, players individually and collectively through the Players Trust (www.PlayersTrust.org), operate and support a variety of efforts to assist military personal, veterans and their families. The Players Trust annually hosts youth instructional clinics for the children of military and veterans, and players including Zach Britton, Kris Bryant, Marlon Byrd, Steve Cishek, Ross Detwiler, Brian Dozier, Freddie Freeman, Javier Lopez, Jonathan Lucroy, Charlie Morton, Darren O'Day, Jake Peavy, Dustin Pedroia, Trevor Plouffe, Craig Stammen, Justin Verlander and Brad Ziegler support organizations such as Byrd's Battle for Vets, Defending the Baseline, Pastime for Patriots, Savannah's Soldiers, Operation Troop Appreciation, USO, Wins for Warriors and Wounded Warriors.
ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball commentators - Dan Shulman, analysts Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone, and reporter Buster Olney - will call the Fort Bragg Game. The game will also be available on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio and streamed via WatchESPN.