Day has extra meaning for Army brat Baker

PHOENIX -- Texas Rangers utility man Jeff Baker walked around the visitors clubhouse Monday morning proudly wearing a Wounded Warrior Project long-sleeved T-shirt.

While the gear was especially appropriate on Memorial Day and Americans are pausing from their daily activities to give thanks to our armed forces, this public display of pride is more than a one-day practice for Baker.

"Every day for me is important when you have a father, mother, sibling or someone in your family in the military. It's not just one day," said Baker, whose father served in the Army for 22 years. "Memorial Day is one day when the public respects our military people, but for me, it is every day."

The 31-year-old is a true Army brat, as he was born in Bad Kissingen, West Germany, the site of the Daley Barracks, which was formerly occupied by Germany's Nazi army until being overtaken by the American military in 1945.

During his childhood, Baker frequently moved around, as is often the case when you grow up in a military family.

"I spent a year here and a year there," Baker said.

While his father retired as a full colonel, the military is still close to Baker's heart, as he has many friends who are serving overseas. Baker also is active with the Wounded Warrior Project, to which he donates his time and other resources.

"For me, every day is Memorial Day," Baker said.

A rare two-fer: Monday will be the first originally scheduled doubleheader for the Rangers since 1991 at the Cleveland Indians and the eighth split doubleheader in club history. The Arizona Diamondbacks requested today's doubleheader after hosting their first twin bill in franchise history last season.

Going green: For the second game of the doubleheader, both teams joined in a league-wide campaign to honor the military by wearing caps and jerseys featuring an authentic military digital camouflage design licensed from the Marine Corps. This is the sixth consecutive season teams will wear the patriotic gear on both Memorial Day and Independence Day.

Raise the roof: The retractable roof at Chase Field was closed for the first pitch during Game 1, with temperatures near 90 degrees in Phoenix, but it is open for the nightcap.

A moment to remember: All Major League Baseball games paused at 3 p.m. local time for a league-wide moment of remembrance to honor those who lost their lives serving our country in the military. During the middle of the seventh inning of the first Rangers-Diamondbacks game, the crowd of 30,638 rose to their feet during a moment of silence as taps played on the Chase Field sound system.

Home and home: Texas will host Arizona for a two-game series beginning Wednesday, marking the first time the Rangers have played the same team in a back-to-back, home-and-home series since 1998.

Marathon men: Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Craig Gentry were the only Rangers to start both games of the split doubleheader.