TriWest Honored to Join WWII Veteran for Spring Training Game First Pitch

PHOENIX (April 20, 2023) – On Sunday, March 19, World War II Veteran Sam Baker, 100, participated in throwing his first-ever Major League Baseball "first pitch." The memorable moment would have the uplifting effect of enchanting and enthralling a ballpark of serious baseball fans before a Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners spring training game.

It was an experience Baker profoundly enjoyed and appreciated, and a TriWest Healthcare Alliance representative had the distinct honor of serving as Baker's escort at the game.

Baker's remarkable participation and patriotic spirit during the pre-game ceremony did not let the crowd down.

"It was really a great honor to follow the Color Guard on to the field, salute the flag, then take my position for the first pitch," Baker said.

Though seemingly brief, Baker's memorable moment actually had nearly a year in the making. It ultimately came to fruition when Mitch Wentzel, TriWest Program Manager for Small and Disadvantaged Businesses, accepted a request to be Baker's escort for the event.

"I first met Sam last year as a member of the Board of Directors for the Veterans Heritage Project," Wentzel recalled. "I escorted Sam to the 2022 Phoenix Veterans Day Parade. At 100 years old, this was the first Veterans Day Parade he had ever attended."

As Baker continued his engagement with VHP, eventually a plan took shape to invite him to participate in a spring training game first pitch ceremony. Ultimately, word reached Wentzel about the scheduled event when a formal request came to escort Baker to the game for the on-field ceremony.

"I was honored to hear about Sam's first pitch ceremony and the request from Veterans Heritage Project that I escort him to the event," Wentzel shared.

He did not hesitate to accept the request, believing it would be a memorable experience and in line with TriWest's long-time support of Veterans and military-connected organizations in the community.

"TriWest's contribution to Sam's first pitch event is just one example of how TriWest supports our Veterans within our communities," Wentzel said. "It really demonstrates that TriWest is fully committed to serving our nation's Veterans and military communities," he added.

To view pictures and read more, please see this Healthy Homefront® article on Baker's first pitch experience.