ShareThis Page

Pirates relish visit with SEALs

| Tuesday, May 3, 2011

SAN DIEGO -- Pitcher Joel Hanrahan wasn't sure if the Pirates' scheduled trip to visit with Navy SEALs on Monday still would take place after the events of the day before, but he couldn't be happier that it did.

Not even 24 hours after the world learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed by SEALs, the Pirates were with Special Boat Team 12, zipping around San Diego Bay and spending time with SEAL Team 3.

The experience likely would have been special regardless, but it became much more meaningful given the historical significance of the past couple of days.

"This was my second time experiencing (the SEALs trip), but obviously, this one was a little different," Hanrahan said. "I felt honored to be in their presence."

The Pirates have visited the SEALs on Coronado Island during their visits to San Diego since 2004. They were the first major league team to do so, thanks to various connections, and within the past three years, the majority of teams have started to do the same thing.

While there, the players sign memorabilia, which the SEALs then auction off to help raise money for families of fallen soldiers. Last year, they raised $90,000.

In 2010, the Pirates went to the shooting range as part of their visit.

This year, after spending some time on dry land, 27 players plus several coaching and staff members took to the water. Their boats could travel at 40 to 45 mph.

"It was awesome," catcher Ryan Doumit said. "That was probably the highlight of the day. It was pretty exhilarating. You were hanging on for dear life, and if they didn't tell you what direction they were going to turn, you'd probably have to swim home."

Outfielder Matt Diaz said the boat trip was a thrill ride, but they also got a chance to talk to the SEALs and find some common ground.

"(Killing bin Laden was a) culmination of a decade of work by guys there. They've been training for it, and they did it," Diaz said. "They were very quick to remind us, as well as the President did, that the war on terror is not over, but when you set a goal and you accomplish it, no matter how long it takes, it's a satisfying feeling.

"They told us that and said I'm sure you can relate to that as baseball players, and we could. It was amazing how many things we could relate to, whether it was the time away from family or the sacrifice made by people around you to get to do what you love. It was a great day all around."

Pitcher Paul Maholm said the SEALs didn't get into any details about the bin Laden mission, nor did the players pry. But there was no disguising how upbeat the mood was and how proud they were of their fellow SEALs.

"It's something not everybody gets to do," Maholm said of the visit. "It was cool for us to say thank you for everything they do for us."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.