Giants to honor armed forces with broadcast to troops

SAN FRANCISCO -- On Wednesday night, thousands of military members will be able to watch the San Francisco Giants host the Chicago Cubs in a special telecast done as a tribute leading up to July 4.

The Giants and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area will honor members of the Armed Forces and their families on "Salute to the Military Night." The game will be broadcast on American Forces Network and available to 176 countries and more than 200 U.S. Navy ships.

Also part of the broadcast will be the "Authentic Heroes: Telecast for the Troops" feature stories on military members and their experiences. San Francisco starter Barry Zito will host Army specialist Stephanie Browning at the ballpark and Zito also will be wearing a microphone during the game so people can hear his exchanges with Browning and learn more about her grueling experience in Iraq. She's a big baseball fan, too.

"It's definitely nice to be able to track people's progress," Zito said. "It's going to be great. I'm excited about being part of it. It's nice to bring a little entertainment to them."

This marks the fourth season of Zito's "Strikeouts for Troops" foundation that offers financial assistance to wounded service men and women and their families. That's how Zito met Browning. She attended an event Zito hosted a few years ago in nearby Walnut Creek.

When she was 20 in 2005, Browning was severely injured while on a mission in Baghdad when the humvee she was driving hit an explosive device and caught fire. Browning spent the next 1½ years undergoing many surgeries and rehabilitation to save one of her legs, receiving a purple heart from the Army.

She and Zito have stayed in touch since their first meeting.

"Now, you wouldn't even know she was injured," Zito said. "And if you met her, you wouldn't even know she's military. I ask them about their experiences. Some don't want to talk about it. But she's also a big baseball fan."