The flag traveled around the world and through the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq. Sgt. Felix Perez brought it from home as a reminder and an amulet. The flag never left his Army backpack.
It accompanied Perez to Dolphin Stadium on Tuesday night.
Team USA baseball has been pretty much a disappointment in recent years. More often than not they’ve stumbled badly. But their comeback win against Puerto Rico is a big story, and Perez was there to see it. In a wheelchair due to wounds suffered in the Army, he cheered for USA even though the vast majority of the crowd was pulling for Puerto Rico. He had the last laugh as USA came back in the bottom of the ninth to win.
On the way out, the 27-year-old Perez placed the flag in his lap and leaned over to a security guard manning Gate G. He was hoping some players from Team USA might sign it. The security guard led Perez and his sister to the U.S. clubhouse, and the flag went inside.
“The next thing I know,” Perez said, “I’m getting called to come back in there.”
He spent a half-hour in the clubhouse with the team, and everyone signed the flag.
Though a lot of folks in America don’t take the World Baseball Classic very seriously, Perez isn’t one them:
“We’re the U.S.,” Perez said. “This is our game. … This is the world. You’re representing your country. What is more honorable than representing your country?”