Braves to play Marlins July 3 at Fort Bragg, N.C.

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Braves will play the Marlins on July 3 at Fort Bragg, N.C., in the first regular-season game of its kind to honor the men and women of the United States military services.

A 12,500-seat ballpark will be built specifically for the “Fort Bragg Game,” which will be the first regular-season game in any professional sport to be played on an active military base. The 8 p.m. game will be shown on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball.”

“It’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “It’s going to be pretty awesome. To be able to go play a baseball game on an active military base is pretty special. I’ve done some other things with the military, got to fly with the Blue Angels. Anytime you get an opportunity to go do stuff like that, it’s an honor.

“Especially to go to an active base and play in front of the troops, that’s kind of what you do this for, to see those guys. Because those guys are the real heroes. What they do, protecting us and defending our way of life every day, is pretty amazing.”

The game is at the back end of a three-game series that includes July 1-2 games at Turner Field, and is considered a home game for the Braves. All 12,500 tickets will go to members of the military and their families.

“The Atlanta Braves organization is extremely honored to be chosen to play in the Fort Bragg Game and to entertain some of our nation’s patriot men and women,” Braves president John Schuerholz said in a news release. “It is special for our fans and our entire organization that we are playing this game in Braves Country – Fort Bragg, North Carolina.”

After the game, the Braves will continue on to Philadelphia from Fort Bragg to begin a six-game, two-city trip that starts with a 4:05 p.m. July 4 game against the Phillies. They have three-game series at Philadelphia and Chicago (White Sox) taking them to the All-Star break.

“I’m honored and proud that Major League Baseball picked us to go there,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We’re a big supporter of the military (and their) families. I think it’s cool. I don’t know how many times Major League Baseball has done something like this, but it’s a nice precedent to start. Why not us be the first team to go down and do it?”

The specially built ballpark at Fort Bragg will later be converted to a permanent softball field and multi-purpose facility for those who serve at the base, which is the most populated military installation in the United States.

“Major League Baseball’s boundless gratitude to our military has led us to a unique event that will benefit the men and women of Fort Bragg and their families for many years,” major league commission Bob Manfred said in a prepared statement. “I thank the Braves and the Marlins for their participation and all of our clubs and players for contributing to this gesture, which will stand as a fitting new chapter in the National Pastime’s proud and distinguished military history.”