Dunn excited to return to Fort Bragg

Veteran reliever visited troops at the base in February 2014

Dunn excited to return to Fort Bragg

DETROIT -- Major League Baseball will break new ground on Sunday night (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET) when the Marlins face the Braves at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, marking the first time any major professional sport will play a regular-season game on an active U.S. military base.

For Marlins reliever Mike Dunn, the trip promises to bring back memories, because the left-hander got into the trenches with soldiers at Fort Bragg two years ago.

In early February 2014, Dunn took part in Fox Sports' Spring Training to the Troops tour. The reliever was part of a group of big league players who spent a few days embedded with the troops. The ballplayers got a small taste of everyday military life -- getting up early, running and training.

"It was an experience I'll never forget," Dunn said. "It was kind of life changing just being able to spend three days with them, and a total of four days there. It was awesome. It's definitely an experience I'll never forget."

Dunn is among the more active Marlins who regularly shows his appreciation for those who serve. For years, he has teamed up with special operations forces for his "All for One and Dunn for All" program. Before each Monday home game, Dunn hosts the families of military members at Marlins Park.

Additionally, this Spring Training, the lefty reliever and a group of Marlins players met with a number of veterans during one round of the Honda Classic PGA tournament.

So when the Marlins were approached about playing the Braves at Fort Bragg, Dunn eagerly embraced the idea.

"Going back is just going to bring back memories," Dunn said. "We're going to have a block of time to go around the base again. I hope to do a little bit of everything in the four hours we get that morning."

Fort Bragg ballpark progress

The 31-year-old has been in the big leagues since 2009, and he has pitched in 29 of the 30 parks. He will get a chance to make it 30 for 30 with Miami at Detroit for two games this week.

If Dunn gets into the game at Fort Bragg on Sunday, he will count that as stadium No. 31.

"It would definitely be on the list," Dunn said.

This will be a hectic road trip for the Marlins, who open a two-game series at the Tigers on Tuesday, before traveling to Atlanta for three games with the Braves at Turner Field. The series finale will be at Fort Bragg, and then on Monday, Miami will be playing the Mets at Citi Field.

"I think the excitement level is off the charts," Dunn said. "Everyone is extremely excited to go. We're seeing pictures of the field kind of daily now that we're getting closer. Ultimately, I think every guy [on the team] doesn't really care what the playing surface is going to be like. They're wanting to get there and spend a little time with our troops."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. 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.