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Lance Cpl. Tony Stevens, a former minor-league shortstop with the Minnesota Twins' AA affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats, participates in batting practice before the Twins' opening day weekend April 10.

Photo by Sgt. Ronney A. Phillips

From foul balls to An Nasiriyah: Twins welcome Marine back to home field

10 Apr 2005 | 9th Marine Corps District

When Lance Cpl. Tony Stevens first met with a recruiter, his resume was not typical of most enlistees.A former minor-league shortstop with the Minnesota Twins’ AA affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats, Stevens traded his ball and glove for a rifle and pack after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.“I always had dreams of playing baseball and being in the military. My dad and uncles were all in the military, but my ultimate goal was serving in the Marine Corps.”Stevens said while he was playing with the Rock Cats after 9/11, he understood the importance of playing baseball and serving in the Marine Corps. “I went in the Marine Corps because it’s the toughest and most respected. It was tough to give up playing, but I never had a regret.”Even while serving his second Iraq tour, he never felt his enlistment was a mistake. “Iraq was definitely an eye-opener. You’re laying there in your fighting hole thinking, ‘Well, I could be playing ball and sleeping in a nice hotel.’”Much of his second deployment was spent in An Nasiriyah, about 30 miles south of Baghdad in the notorious Sunni Triangle – the “triangle of death.” While there, Stevens was on the receiving end of nine improvised explosive devices, making him a sort of good luck/bad luck icon in his unit.“When you get a direct bomb hit, you pretty much just hunker down and start praying,” he said. “After that, just get up and do your job.“I can’t say I wasn’t scared. Even when you’re sleeping, you’re worrying about rockets hitting you.” He said prayer and thinking of home helped him get through his multiple deployments and the loss of three fellow Marines from his unit. Stevens deploys again in November, this time to Afghanistan. Now an infantryman with Alpha Company, First Battalion, Second Marine Regiment, the 26-year-old shortstop came full circle, returning to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to throw out the honorary first pitch during the Twins’ opening game weekend April 10, as well as getting in some batting practice and catching up with former teammates third baseman Michael Cuddyer and outfielder Lew Ford.Along with reminiscing, Stevens was interviewed by several media, including Fox Sports Net.“The whole weekend has been a blast. It’s unbelievable the Twins would do this for me,” Stevens said. “It really shows a lot about them that they’d bring me out here for this.”
9th Marine Corps District