News: Angels honor 1st CEB Marine
Story by Lance Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez
ANAHEIM, Calif. – A crowd of almost 45,000 Anaheim Angels fans erupted into a deafening collection of cheers and applause, but they weren’t cheering for a game-changing homerun by designated hitter Bobby Abreu, or a spectacular diving catch from right fielder Torii Hunter.
They cheered for Sgt. Micah Crooks, a combat engineer with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, as he stepped onto the mound.
Crooks gripped the ball, took aim at his target and fired.
The Angels selected Crooks to throw the ceremonial first pitch during a game against the Atlanta Braves at the Angels Stadium of Anaheim, May 21.
After being injured by an improvised explosive device while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Crooks was medically evacuated home from Afghanistan in January.
“At first I thought this was too big for me,” said Crooks. “But at the same time, I had to go out there to represent.”
Crooks’ wife, Raelena, said she contacted the Angels after learning about her husband’s injury.
“Our family has always been season ticket holders with the Angels and we’ve seen some service members get selected to throw the first pitch,” said Raelena, from Orange, Calif. “While Micah was in Germany, being transferred back home, it was a thought that crossed my mind.”
The Crooks received their reply earlier this month, and were informed by the club that they would be honored to have a Marine throw the first pitch, said Tim Mead, the Angels vice president of communications.
“We have a history of working with the military in the 50 years of our organization,” said Mead. “We feel privileged welcoming service members back. It means a great deal to us to remind people that there’s a special segment of our society doing special and important things.”
After the pitch, Crooks headed with his family back to their designated box suite. Players, fans and members of the Angels organizations continued to express their gratitude for his service.
“It’s an honor,” said Crooks, 25, from Alexandria, La. “I was proud to go out there and be recognized by the Angels and represent the Marine Corps.”