Through MLB Welcome Back Veterans Program, War Hero Throws First Pitch

Wounded veteran throws first pitch of world series game.

Watchers of last night's World Series game witnessed the Welcome Back Veterans program in action when Marine Corporal Nicholas Kimmel, a triple amputee, threw the first pitch.

In high school, Kimmel was a baseball star at a Washington high school. However, during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, Kimmel lost both legs and his left arm in an explosion. According to an article on USA Today, Kimmel is still undergoing treatment at Navy Medical Center in San Diego. He is enjoying season tickets to San Diego Padres games this season through the Strikeouts for Troops program established by Giants pitcher and Game 1 winner Barry Zito.

Zito and several other major league pitchers donate money for every strikeout they record during the season and the proceeds go toward helping wounded soldiers at military hospitals around the country.

A Red Sox fan growing up, Kimmel says baseball has helped him live a more normal life, despite his disability.

"It's not that I had any crazy PTSD or anything, but for me the Strikeouts for Troops is more of a way to get out in public and enjoy something that I enjoyed before – baseball – without having to worry about a bunch of people staring at me."

Kimmel enjoys going on to the field during batting practice as a part of Strikeouts for Troops, and says he has developed friendships with a number of players.

But the best part of the night, according to Kimmel, was sharing the mound with Giants Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays, a US Army veteran who served in the Korean War during most of the 1952 and all of the 1953 season.

"He took the ball and said I've got to rub it up with some dirt," Kimmel recalled. "He rubbed it up and signed it for me, so that was pretty cool."

Talking about his experiences with Strikeouts for Troops, Kimmel says, "All those guys are friends to me now. You grow up thinking these guys are superheroes … They're just people. Now they're my pals."

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