By Master Sgt. Weston Smith, 102nd Intelligence Wing
/ Published December 31, 2014
BOSTON, Mass. -- Early in the afternoon on Friday, May 30th, Master Sgt. Joseph Pitta drove off of Cape Cod, heading towards Boston and Fenway Park. Master Sgt. Pitta, who is a member of the 102nd Intelligence Wing, was going to the ballpark as a guest of Red Sox player Dustin Pedroia and a participant in a program that recognizes military members for their service.
The program, known as Pedroia's Platoon, accepts applications from military members who are nominated by their leadership for outstanding performance. It is an opportunity for these baseball fans to meet with one of the star players of the Boston Red Sox. The experience doesn't stop there though, the service-member is allowed to bring three guests and is given four tickets for seats near home plate. This was a perfect opportunity for Sgt. Pitta, who is a life-long Red Sox fan. The distinct achievements of Sgt. Pitta led to his application package being chosen over fifty others that were sent in to the program.
During his time at Otis Air National Guard Base, and while stationed overseas, Sgt. Pitta has stood out as a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer. In the past, Sgt. Pitta has consistently shown dedication to the 102nd Intelligence Wing's mission by volunteering multiple times to go into harm's way and be away from his home and family. Most recently, Master Sgt. Pitta deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. After six months abroad, he returned home to his wife and three young sons in early April.
Fenway Park was busy with activity as Sgt. Pitta walked up to the historic stadium's entrance. When Sgt. Pitta and his guests, three of his fellow airmen, arrived at the Fenway Park Gate they were met by a Fenway Park Ambassador who escorted them to the Red Sox dugout. While relaxing in in the warm-up area behind the home team dugout the group met with Dustin Pedrioa, Jonny Gomes (Outfielder), and David Ross (Catcher) for more than 30 minutes. "Just hanging out with those guys was really cool. They were extremely welcoming and laid-back and just good guys to chat with," Sgt. Pitta said.
During the visit Sgt. Pitta presented Pedrioa with 102nd IW and 101st Intelligence Squadron coins. He also gave him a 101st IS patch and t-Shirt. Pedrioa returned the favor, and more, giving Sgt. Pitta a signed Red Sox jersey, one of his custom-made bats, and a bag filled with Red Sox and New Balance gear.
After the meeting, it was time for the players to start batting practice and get ready for the game. The Red Sox players, Sgt. Pitta, and his guests walked out to the field together. Sgt. Pitta received his tickets for the game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, just rows behind home plate. "They were great seats! It was a good game the whole way through, the rain didn't dampen our spirits; we chipped away at it and won in the end," Sgt. Pitta recalled. The Red Sox defeated the Rays, 3-2, in the 10th inning with a walk off hit by A.J Pierzynski (Catcher). That hit drove in Johnny Gomes with the winning run.
Looking back on the experience Sgt. Pitta said that Dustin Pedrioa and the Boston Red Sox organization at Fenway Park put together an exciting and memorable experience for him. "Everyone in the Red Sox organization, and the players, were great to us, it was just a good time," Sgt. Pitta said. His guests agreed and said that being part of the Pedrioa's Platoon is not something they will ever forget.