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Oliver delivers game ball, meets Tigers



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United States Army Pvt. First Class Kelsey Oliver shakes hands with Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge. Photo by Gabe Ouzounian. (click for larger version)
May 11, 2011 - Just about every Detroit Tigers fan dreams about playing on the same field as their favorite boys of summer.

United States Army Pvt. First Class Kelsey Oliver didn't get to take fielding practice or smack a ball into the gap in leftfield at Comerica Park, but she was able to get on the field and deliver the game ball to the umpire during pregame festivities before the Tigers played the New York Yankees on Monday, May 2.

"I was definitely excited," Oliver said.

"It was just breathtaking having all those people standing there with their eyes on you, knowing that they are applauding for something you do for a living," she added.

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All of this happened on her 21st birthday.

Lost in the festivities was the irony of the situation.

The previous evening, President Barack Obama announced an elite group of Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001.

It just so happened the following evening Oliver got to walk out the game ball while the Yankees were in town.

"It's very ironic to have that happen and it's a great feeling to know that he is finally gone," Oliver said. "It was a feeling, almost like relief, that someone who has caused so much pain for this nation is finally gone."

After handing the ball to the umpire, she was greeted by several Tigers, including third baseman Brandon Inge, catcher Alex Avila and manager Jim Leyland, who thanked her for everything she was doing for the nation.

Oliver said Inge asked where she was sitting so he could hit a homerun to her. "That was cool," she said. "I like him a lot."

Oliver would like to thank all of her friends, family, Downtown Salon and especially her mother Pam for making her birthday one to remember.

"It made it an extra special night for me," she said.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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