First Lady supports St. Louis baseball, troops -

First Lady supports St. Louis baseball, troops

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Michelle Obama and Jill Biden put their baseball allegiances aside Wednesday and teamed up with Major League Baseball to support the military before Game 1 of the World Series.
Obama, whose husband is a proud White Sox fan, and Dr. Biden, a self-described "Philly girl," were joined on the mound at blustery Busch Stadium by Lance Corporal James Sperry and his 5-year-old daughter, Hannah.
Sperry was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during Operation Phantom Fury, the largest battle of the Iraq war, and sustained numerous injuries to his head and chest. He now serves as a mentor with the Wounded Warrior Regiment and Midwest Marines Foundation.
American Idol winner Scotty McCreery performed the national anthem while soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood unfurled an American flag that stretched across the outfield.
"We are truly thrilled to be here today," a smiling Obama said earlier in the day. "And Jill and I are very happy to be making our husbands jealous, too, because what are we doing? We're at the World Series! And where are they? We don't really know, but they're not very happy."
Obama and Biden stopped by the VA Medical Center to visit with veterans and their families before heading to the ballpark for the first pitch between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.
They also debuted a public service announcement, which will air during the game, that honors the military and features the Yankees' Mark Teixeira and the Rays' Johnny Damon.
"Every day, you all inspire us," the first lady said. "That's really what has led Jill and I to be so passionate about this issue. We want the country to know your stories. We want the country to know of your sacrifice. Because if they know, then we all can't help but step up."
Obama and Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, were joined by Commissioner Bud Selig, Hall of Famer and Army veteran Red Schoendienst, Cardinals executives Bill Dewitt Jr. and Bill Dewitt III, Mets owner Fred Wilpon and other baseball executives.
The family appreciation event was part of Major League Baseball's Welcome Back Veterans program and Obama's Joining Forces initiative.
"Joining Forces is just a way to galvanize all of that energy and goodwill that's already out there, to shine that light and to lift up these stories and these efforts all throughout the country," Obama said.
"And our hope is that ultimately you all feel this on the ground."
Supporting the military has become one of Obama's priorities.
Earlier Wednesday, the first lady joined President Barack Obama at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia to announce a commitment from several companies -- among them Tyson Foods Inc. and the Coca-Cola Co. -- to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013.
On Monday, she helped finish off a renovation in Washington on a house that belongs to an Army sergeant who was wounded in Afghanistan and now uses a wheelchair. The renovation was made possible through a charitable venture called Heroes at Home.
"Our military families are proud, strong and resilient, but their service does come with sacrifice," said Biden, whose stepson Beau Biden served in Iraq. "As a military mom, I know firsthand how a simple act of kindness can make such a difference to a service member or a veteran."
Selig said MLB's Welcome Back Veterans program has awarded more than $11 million in grants to nonprofit agencies and programs that help veterans and their families.
The commissioner also pointed out baseball's close relationship to the military -- some of its greatest players, from Ted Williams to Joe DiMaggio to Cardinals great Stan Musial, have served in the armed forces. Schoendienst served during World War II.
"I hope that our dedication of Game 1 of the World Series is a clear demonstration of our gratitude," Selig said, "and that you will be proud of the work we will continue to do for veterans and their families for decades to come."

Powered by Frankly