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Jacksonville nurse throws out first pitch at MLB game

Navy Cmdr. Coby Croft throws out the first pitch at the invitation of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team as they took on the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 6. Croft was invited as part of this year's National Nurses Week celebration, which continues until May 12. (Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays.) Navy Cmdr. Coby Croft throws out the first pitch at the invitation of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team as they took on the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 6. Croft was invited as part of this year's National Nurses Week celebration, which continues until May 12. (Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays.)

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Navy Cmdr. Coby Croft threw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday, May 6, before the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Croft, the associate director of nursing at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, was invited to throw out the pitch as part of National Nurses Week, which runs from May 6-12.

A native of Lovell, Wyoming, Croft said getting the opportunity to throw out a first pitch was an unexpected joy for someone who grew up loving the sport but had never even attended a live game before joining the Navy.

“I have always believed that the experience of going on the field to throw the first pitch would be a fantastic experience, and yesterday did not disappoint,” Croft said. “It was definitely a bucket list item that I wouldn’t have gotten to do without the Navy.”

While his personal experience was unforgettable, Croft hoped it was meaningful for those who got to see him. “I believe that experiences like these are great for the nurse corps.”

Croft believes these kinds of events help to put a face to the profession and can highlight nurses as members of the community. He also hoped that his appearance would spark the interest of a nurse who might decide to see what else the Navy has to offer.

Croft was proud to represent the roughly 27,000 uniformed and civilian nurses in the Military Health System. “Being a Navy nurse has been an extremely rewarding experience,” Croft said. “I’ve had the opportunity to take care of our nation's past and present service members, along with their families, all around the world.”

After his turn on the mound, Croft watched the home team Rays defeat the Diamondbacks 12-1.

Another event to mark the beginning of National Nurses Week was a wreath laying ceremony at American Red Cross Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Department of Defense and Red Cross officials joined forces to honor nurses, past and present. Check your local military clinic or hospital for opportunities to celebrate and thank the nurses who have cared for you or a loved one.

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