RVA - The Richmond Flying Squirrels, Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, are honored to announce Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient and former Clemson Tiger and St. Louis Ram wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez will throw out a ceremonial first pitch at The Diamond on Sunday, July 16. Rodriguez will also meet with fans and sign autographs during the game. Gates open at 11 a.m. and the game is scheduled to start at 12:05 p.m.
Rodriguez's appearance is in conjunction with his inaugural "Stay Driven" football camp. The three-day camp, which will include a blend of military training, football skills and mentorship, begins Monday, July 17, at the Fredericksburg Field House and is free for children of active-duty military parents. The Fredericksburg native will share his story during a free speaking engagement Tuesday, July 18, at the field house. More information is available at www.fredfieldhouse.com.
"Daniel is a real life hero," said Flying Squirrels VP & COO Todd "Parney" Parnell. "He was already a hero because of his service to our country, but his willingness to give back and be a positive influence to kids in his hometown and throughout Virginia also makes him a hero. We look forward to welcoming him to The Diamond and thanking him on Sunday."
Rodriguez earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his role in a firefight against more than 300 Taliban Insurgents during the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2009, in which eight Americans were killed and 22 were injured, including Rodriguez. Following his honorable discharge from the Army in 2010, Rodriguez struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse. He then made a decision to start rigorous workouts and health regiments. A friend filmed Rodriguez's football-based drills, and the videos went viral on YouTube and Twitter.
Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney saw Rodriguez's videos and immediately extended the then-24-year-old an offer to play for the Tigers. The 5-foot-8, 180-pound Rodriguez attended Clemson on a GI Bill and played in 37 consecutive games. His story was featured by major media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, Fox Sports and CNN, and he signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2015.
Rodriguez's autobiography "Rise: A Soldier, a Dream, and a Promise Kept" is a New York Times bestseller, and he is currently working on a second book. The Los Angeles resident does speaking engagements for college and pro sports teams as well as Fortune 500 companies.
In addition to Rodriguez's appearance, Sunday's game will also feature a special guest appearance from TV character Daniel Tiger presented by Community Idea Stations. Additionally, the first 1,000 fans 14 and younger will receive a free Nutasha & Nutzy photoball. Kids and parents can play catch on the field before the game from 11:15-11:35 a.m. presented by Nesquik. Kids Run the Bases after the game thanks to Richmond Family Magazine. Kids Club members receive a free General Admission ticket to the game, which also features all-you-can eat brunch options.
Individual tickets, mini plans and group packages for the season are available by contacting the Flying Squirrels box office at 804-359-3866 or online at www.squirrelsbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.