For the last 23 years, Richard Tylicki has been living a double life.
In his baseball life, Tylicki serves as the director of stadium operations for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies of the Double-A Eastern League.
In his military life, Tylicki serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
His two worlds will collide Sunday night at the annual Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet when he accepts the Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award.
The award, presented by Minor League Baseball, honors a club or individual for outstanding support of and engagement with the United States Armed Forces and Veterans.
Tylicki's career in baseball began at the 1994 Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas, where he attended the PBEO Job Fair looking to break into the baseball industry.
"I must have interviewed for 10 to 12 internships," said Tylicki. "I signed with Binghamton because they included housing."
He began as an operations intern 1995. His duties gradually expanded and now include overseeing ballpark operations, parking, ushers and maintenance staff.
While he always dreamed of working in sports, his military career began thanks to a bench press bar he sent crashing to the floor.
While he was a student at Kentucky State University, Tylicki was working out when the bar became more than he could handle.
"It fell on me and I had to flip the bar," Tylicki recalled. "A coach said to me, 'that's it. No more. You're out of here."
Also in the weight room that day were two soldiers, whom Tylicki immediately recruited as spotters. They agreed, but with a catch. Tylicki had to get up earlier for physical training, which led to taking ROTC classes. Tylicki made the deal and was hooked. The military would be a part of his life and in 1992, he received an appointment as a Reserve commissioned officer in the United States Army National Guard.
The lessons, discipline and attention to the detail necessary to excel in military life for over 25 years have served Tylicki well in his job at the ballpark.
"Rich exemplifies the qualities of a capable, talented and proficient leader and is certainly deserving of the honor," wrote Pennsylvania Army National Guard major general Andrew P. Schafer, Jr. in his nomination letter for Tylicki.
Both Rumble Ponies owner John Hughes and general manager John Bayne cite Tylicki's work ethic as to what makes him successful at his job.
"Richard is a very structured person and that's a direct reflection of his military background," Hughes said. "We have a very young staff and he leads by example."
With the Rumble Ponies, Tylicki secured a sponsorship that enabled all U.S. military veterans to attend a Binghamton game for free over Memorial Day Weekend, and he arranged to have the Honor Guard present the flag on the field on Memorial Day and Independence Day. Additionally, he orchestrated the dedication of a POW/MIA memorial seat at NYSEG Stadium to ensure that all service members who did not come home from battle would always be honored at the ballpark.
"He is one of the hardest working, most dedicated people I know," said Bayne. "He's an asset to this organization and we are lucky to have him and we'll definitely miss him."
Wait. What? Miss him?
While most of the baseball world prepares for Opening Day and the baseball season ahead, Tylicki will take time away from the Rumble Ponies to be deployed to Kuwait in January and will miss the 2018 baseball season. It will be the fifth time Tylicki has left his job for a tour of duty -- he also served in Kuwait in 2013, Egypt in 2008, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2002.
Tylicki's service has earned him 23 medals to date, including the Bronze Star for meritorious service in a combat zone, and the Meritorious Service Medal awarded for exceptional service in support of Command and Staff while deployed to Kuwait in 2013.
Now, Tylicki can add the Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award to his growing list of honors.
"I am very honored to be the recipient of the Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award as Mr. Murphy was a tremendous leader who served the nation for two decades and as a league president in Minor League Baseball for over 25 years," said Tylicki. "It is truly a privilege to be associated with his good name and an honor to be recognized by Minor League Baseball and I am sincerely humbled by the recognition."
John M. Delcos is a freelance writer for Minor League Baseball.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.