Xavier alum to throw out first pitch at Reds game

While home on leave, 1st Lt. Jeff Brown, who is stationed in Kuwait, tosses the ball on July 4 | June 23, 2004

At an Internet tent at a base about 60 miles north of Baghdad, 1st Lt. Jeff Brown reads that his classmate, Bryan Kirby, arranged for the soldier to throw out the opening pitch at the Reds game on July 4 while on leave.

The 1997 graduate arrived in the Middle East in January 2003 but stays current on the latest Reds news. His friends send programs from games, his mom mails daily sports articles and Brown carries with him a ball he got from a Reds batting practice when he goes on convoy.

“I have been to several opening days and always take a vacation day to go when I’m home,” wrote Brown in an e-mail. “Being here Opening Day was one of the tougher days here because, like a birthday or anniversary, I know exactly where I’d be if I weren’t here.”

To commemorate the Reds opening game, Brown’s wife sent powdered lemonade, Cracker Jacks and nachos. Kirby arranged the opening pitch with local sports writer Paul Daugherty. “I still won't believe it until it happens. I’m really excited about it,” Brown wrote. “It will be special because it's a shared moment with my family and our city, and an honor I’ll never forget.”

Brown, who is stationed at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, will visit Greater Cincinnati for two weeks in June and July. In addition to the baseball game, Brown hopes to eat White Castles, visit the zoo and, most importantly, drive his own car.

The Reds play the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, July 4, at 1:15. For more information, visit cincinnatireds.com.