Cards reliever, Navy grad Harris invited to Fort Bragg

Cards reliever, Navy grad Harris invited to Fort Bragg

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Mitch Harris grabbed the attention of the baseball world last year, when he became the first United States Naval Academy graduate in nearly 100 years to be promoted to the Majors. The currently injured Cardinals reliever experienced another thrill when Major League Baseball invited him to be present when the Braves and Marlins played at Fort Bragg on Sunday night.

"They said they thought I should really be a part of this and I jumped on it," Harris said. "I was down in Florida doing my rehab. Unfortunately, I don't get to play this year, but if I get to do something like this, it's worth it to me. I think it's something that is really special."

After posting a 3.67 ERA in 26 appearances for St. Louis last year, Harris experienced elbow discomfort in Spring Training and ended up undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery two weeks ago. The 30-year-old reliever had a genuine appreciation for what the military personnel would experience during the Fort Bragg Game, the first Major League game played on an active military base.

"This is something these guys and girls will always remember," Harris said. "It doesn't happen often, and I'm glad it is finally happening. Hopefully, we can do a lot more stuff like this in the future."

Harris graduated from the Naval Academy in 2008 and was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the MLB Draft that same year. Because of the need to fulfill his military commitment, he spent the next five years completing assignments in the Persian Gulf, South America and Russia.

"This is just such a special event," Harris said. "If I can give back, I want to. What better way to do it than with an event like this. I've always wanted to be part of an event like this."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.