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Fort Drum soldiers to play in Hall of Fame game in Cooperstown today

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FORT DRUM — For Army chaplain Capt. David L. Arthur, the chance to play with baseball legends in Cooperstown this weekend is the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I’m looking forward to getting out there a little bit and playing some ball,” he said.

The West Monroe, La., native said he has played from “T-ball all the way to Division I.”

“I just always remember playing,” Capt. Arthur added.

Capt. Arthur is one of three soldiers who will represent the 10th Mountain Division at the Hall of Fame Classic today. The other two soldiers are 1st Lt. Jason T. Dighton and Sgt. 1st Class Jason King, who were not available this week to talk about the game.

This year is the first time the division has been invited to have representatives in the game, coinciding with the game occurring on Memorial Day weekend.

The three will be joined by a number of retired Major League Baseball players, including Rickey Henderson, Bob and Bret Boone, Phil Niekro and Goose Gossage.

Blake Helm and Robby Hisert, of the Military All-Star Team, will also be playing in the game. Rosters for the teams, managed by longtime pro skippers Cito Gaston and Bobby Cox, will be determined a few hours before the opening pitch.

Capt. Arthur’s collegiate baseball career took him from Paris Junior College, Texas, to Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La.

The southpaw pitcher said his best pitch was a two-seam fastball, adding he was able to get into the low 90s in terms of miles per hour.

Graduating from the school in 1997, he would play a summer of independent league baseball before pursuing other interests. Attending seminary in New Orleans from 2001-04, when he played in casual adult leagues and coached young players, Capt. Arthur later joined the Army in late 2007. The chaplain said he mainly used his baseball experience to help with unit softball teams and coach youth league teams.

The three soldiers from post were picked following a tryout about three weeks ago, with Capt. Arthur hearing about it from his sergeant major.

“Chappy, you’ve been playing ball forever right?” Capt. Arthur remembered being asked.

Following a daylong tryout running through their fundamentals, he learned he made the team in an email a few days later.

Capt. Arthur said he hoped to get a shot on the mound, putting in a request to pitch during the game.

“That’d be nice,” he said.

Capt. Arthur said he also looked forward to telling his teammates about the post, “just to let them know how phenomenal our 10th Mountain Division folks are.”

The three soldier-player contingency are not the only group going to the game from post.

The 10th Mountain Division band and Color Guard will take part in festivities around the game, and division Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Merritt will also be in attendance.

Organizers also distributed about 1,200 tickets for the game to the post for free.

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