Michelle Obama and Jill Biden put their baseball allegiances aside Wednesday in St. Louis and teamed up with Major League Baseball to support the military before Game 1 of the World Series.
Obama, whose husband is a proud White Sox fan, and Dr. Biden, a self-described "Philly girl," were joined on the mound at blustery Busch Stadium by Lance Corporal James Sperry and his 5-year-old daughter, Hannah.
Sperry was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during Operation Phantom Fury, the largest battle of the Iraq war, and sustained numerous injuries to his head and chest. He now serves as a mentor with the Wounded Warrior Regiment and Midwest Marines Foundation.
American Idol winner Scotty McCreery performed the national anthem while soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood unfurled an American flag that stretched across the outfield.
"We are truly thrilled to be here today," a smiling Obama said earlier in the day. "And Jill and I are very happy to be making our husbands jealous, too, because what are we doing? We're at the World Series! And where are they? We don't really know, but they're not very happy."
Obama and Biden stopped by the VA Medical Center to visit with veterans and their families before heading to the ballpark for the first pitch between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.
"Every day, you all inspire us," the first lady said. "That's really what has led Jill and I to be so passionate about this issue. We want the country to know your stories. We want the country to know of your sacrifice. Because if they know, then we all can't help but step up."
Obama and Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, were joined by Commissioner Bud Selig, Hall of Famer and Army veteran Red Schoendienst, Cardinals executives Bill Dewitt Jr. and Bill Dewitt III, Mets owner Fred Wilpon and other baseball executives.
The family appreciation event was part of Major League Baseball's Welcome Back Veterans program and Obama's Joining Forces initiative.
"Joining Forces is just a way to galvanize all of that energy and goodwill that's already out there, to shine that light and to lift up these stories and these efforts all throughout the country," Obama said. "And our hope is that ultimately you all feel this on the ground."
Supporting the military has become one of Obama's priorities.
Earlier Wednesday, the first lady joined President Barack Obama at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia to announce a commitment from several companies — among them Tyson Foods Inc. and the Coca-Cola Co. — to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013.
On Monday, she helped finish off a renovation in Washington on a house that belongs to an Army sergeant who was wounded in Afghanistan and now uses a wheelchair. The renovation was made possible through a charitable venture called Heroes at Home.
Ex-Mets star tells ESPN why he really missed parade
Former Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden says in an interview scheduled to air on ESPN's E:60 on Wednesday night that he missed the ticker-tape parade celebrating New York's World Series win in 1986 because he was using drugs.
Gooden, who says he became hooked on cocaine during the '86 season, claims he watched the parade on television at the Long Island apartment of a drug dealer he did not even know. Gooden said at the time that he missed the parade celebration because he overslept.
The 1985 NL Cy Young Award winner says he was too high and paranoid to join his teammates for the parade up Broadway in Manhattan.
Gooden describes his first experience with cocaine as a 21-year-old star pitcher as "love at first sight, unfortunately."