Hulman Field Ind. --
"Brian Chesshir? This is Capt. Santana from the U.S. Southern Command. Would you be interested in playing baseball for us?"
SSgt Brian Chesshir, 181st Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM), was watching ESPN SportsCenter when he answered the phone on Feb. 14, 2009 and had to think for a moment before answering - but he didn't have to think very long.
"Yes sir," he replied faster than Stuart Scott could announce the next SportsCenter highlight.
Chesshir's love for baseball began at age five, when he swiped his first ball off the tee. Twenty-two years later, he will be playing ball representing the 181st, Indiana Air National Guard, the whole Air Force and his country in a U.S. Southern Command Partnership Tour.
Reporting to Miami, Fla., for a week of training before he begins a month long "friendship tour" visiting five Latin-American countries including; Panama, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Chile. Chesshir is one of two catchers selected for the tour.
"The week-long training will decide on the starting catcher," Chesshir explained. "There are some great ball players and I hope I can squeeze out the starting position."
This will be Chesshir's first time playing for the U.S. Southern Command in other countries. He will be staying on foreign military bases and meeting ambassadors from the countries he will be visiting.
The team is comprised of all military branches, but Chesshir is the only Air Force and Air National Guard member of the team. However, this won't be the first time he's has played baseball with other Department of Defense members.
He played for the U.S. Military All-Stars team last spring and was the first Air National Guard member to play for that team as well. As the team traveled all around the country playing ball, they also visited several children's hospitals and nursing homes.
"One of the highlights of playing last year for me was visiting with the children and holding clinics to teach young players proper techniques," he said. "I am looking forward to doing the same thing in other countries."
Chesshir plays on a local men's league which travels to Indianapolis, Ind., Chicago, Ill., and Phoenix, Az., to participate in tournament play with the Men's Senior Baseball League. He also volunteers with the Martinsville High School baseball team, and coaches teams for Terre Town Little League, West Terre Haute and Legion Post 90.
"I'm not sure what to expect on this tour," said Chesshir as he reflected on last year's tour with the U.S. Military All-Stars. "I remember playing with the kids in Shreveport, La. They really enjoyed getting their pictures taken with us and playing different games. This year, there will be a lot more focus on the humanitarian side of things and we will be representing our country. I'm excited and it is an honor to be on this team."