|Military All-Star earns a chance to play for Baltimore Orioles |
|Aberdeen, MD - Former U.S. Military All-Star pitcher, Bobby Wilkins, is eager for the season to start as a member of the Aberdeen IronBirds, minor league affilliate of the Baltimore Orioles. |
Spending a summer with the U.S. Military All-Stars allowed Wilkins to work his way back from an elbow injury and continue his quest to reach the Major Leagues. Drafted in the 6th round by the Texas Rangers in 2007, he had a bright future and remained in the organization for 3 years.
In 2011, he learned about the U.S. Military All-Stars based in San Diego and founded by Commander Crash Allvord in 1990 at the request of President H.W. Bush. The U.S Military All-Stars are comprised of all branches of the military and first responders.
Commander Allvord's partnership with Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Baltimore Orioles, Dan Duquette brought experience and resources second to none to one of the most unique five-team military organizations in the world today. "We were extremely fortunate to have someone with Dan's credentials and knowledge leading our entire player development system with a dedication to cultivating young talent while our teams performed at all levels to deliver winning baseball. Dan played a key role in helping us build a military farm system to expand opportunities for more than 25 of our military players who signed professional contracts under his leadership including USMC Wounded Warrior Cooper Brannan who played in the San Diego Padres organization."
That connection to the Orioles and other minor league teams lead to Wilkins earning a tryout and resulted in Wilkins signing shortly before spring training.
In 2007, limited availability as a result of two wars led to the U.S. Military All-Stars to allow military dependents, delayed entry program, service academy and former MLB and celebrity players to join the roster.
Today, U.S. Military All-Stars must live a HUSTLE, THINK, WIN! philosophy, support our troops and have a family affiliation to play, most are active duty, reserve or Veterans.
The team conducts an annual barnstorming "Red, White & Blue Tour" to honor local heroes in a moving pre-game ceremony featuring the passing of the flag that flew over Ground Zero.
Players receive a great reception and turnout by the fans as they visit 45 states and 3 countries each year.
Being a part of U.S. Military All-Stars allowed Wilkins to put life and baseball in perspective. This team made him realize that he was just one part of an organization that could do great things on and off the field in America.
He was now playing on a team where members played a week or two paying their own expenses during off-duty time. Sometimes they could only play in one game before being called back to duty. Knowing players could be called up at any time always kept the reality of them being in the military in the forefront. It also meant Wilkins would throw to quite a few different catchers. It seemed like just when he got dialed in, the player would have to report back for duty.
What surprised Wilkins was despite the constant turnover, the U.S. Military All Stars could flat out play baseball. They have always won 70 percent of their games against the top professional and summer collegiate teams in the nation. That allowed Wilkins to experience the grind of long bus rides to play in a different city every night and compete at an extremely high level. The best part was that he was alongside the heroes that are going out and doing the brunt work overseas that is sometimes underappreciated, but always necessary for freedom.
Baseball served as a way for most of the players to relieve stress after a deployment. It is also a chance for Wounded Warriors to recover in front of an appreciative American public. Wilkins recognized immediately that the Military All-Stars played the game seriously and were all playing to win every battle on and off the field in honor of everyone who has ever served our country.
Wilkins said that what he most enjoyed about being on the team was not only playing great baseball in front of supportive fans, but getting to know the players and their stories.
Military All-Stars have an amazing camaraderie amongst each other because they have all been through some unique challenges together. If the bus breaks down, they all chip in to get it fixed. They also cherish the few summers during their military career that they get a chance to travel throughout the United States together on the "Red, White & Blue Tour." Wilkins remains good friends with many of his fellow teammates who comtinue to track and support his efforts.
US Military Baseball Archives Page 311