Military dad, sister surprise Whitmer student at baseball game

Military dad, sister surprise Whitmer student at baseball game

(WTOL) - It started as an ordinary day for Whitmer sophomore Josh Close. He was focused on the Panthers game, but in the back of his mind he knew his dad and sister were coming back from their mission in Guam.

But they weren't in the stands because their flight was delayed; At least, that's what Josh thought.

Little did Josh know, as he was throwing and taking practice swings, his dad and sister's plane was landing, and they had a surprise of their own in mind.

"I didn't know what to expect really, I was just excited about coming and watching him play a ballgame for a change," said Mark Close, Josh's dad.

"I was so excited, all I wanted to do was hug my brother. I was so excited," said Asia Close, Josh's sister.

As Josh took center field for the game, his coach called timeout.

"I was looking around. I was like why'd he call time so early we haven't thrown a pitch yet," said Josh.

And then a special announcement was made.

Still dressed in their gear, Mark and Asia were introduced and started making their way onto the field.

"I realized at that point that he didn't even realize what was going on. And then when he did you could just see the emotion in him as he recognized what was happening and he started running in and that big hug came and it was great. So that was special," said Mark.

Josh says he looked over at his teammate in left, and that's when it sunk in, that this was really happening.

"He told me to go in and I started sprinting towards them, and I just gave them a big hug and it was awesome. I told them, I was like this is the first time I've ever cried on the field before. I was just in total shock. It was awesome," said Josh.

After the hugs and emotional moment, it was time to get back to center to play ball.

"It was a very emotional moment. The last thing I said to him was, 'Now you gotta go play a ballgame,'" said Mark.

Even though Josh says he felt a lot of pressure to get a hit in his first at bat.

"I was like I got to get a hit, like I can't get out right here," said Josh.

He didn't disappoint. With his dad and sister looking on, Josh ripped a double down the line.

While this was Asia's first time being deployed, Mark says it was his 10th time overseas. So there was a typical protocol they did before and after deployment.

Although there's nothing like coming home for Mark.

"It's just great to be back, be with family again and make us whole again," said Mark.

However, this time, with the help of the Whitmer baseball team and others, it was a return home that stands above the rest.

"I've been deployed multiple times before, so we've been through this. But this is the first time we've done anything like this, and it just made it that much more special," said Mark.

For Asia, she says it's interesting now experience both sides of the return.

"Oh I could never forget this. The deployment with my dad itself, and then being able to come home and surprise my brother like that was awesome," said Asia.

While the Panthers didn't walk away with a win that day, it was a winning moment the Close family says they'll never forget.
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