The Howard Payne University baseball program honored the military on Saturday with a pre-game ceremony featuring veterans and active duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

About 35 members of the four service branches took the field at Don Shepard Park as an HPU brass quartet, under the direction of professor Corey Ash, played the branches’ respective official songs. The ceremony also included a first pitch from four veteran relatives of HPU baseball players.

Robert Anders is an assistant baseball coach at Howard Payne, and helped organize Saturday’s ceremony. He said the team had been planning the event for several months. “All the coaching staff have family who have served in the military,” Anders said. “Our game program has photos of family members from our baseball team who served.”

Anders’ father William represented the Marine Corps during the event.

Baseball team members also adorned their hats with patches representing various military units. “We went to the Army Navy store in Dallas and picked out individual patches just for our players,” Anders said. “Each player that has a patch on is representative of somebody that served in their family.”

The players also wore special camouflage jerseys for the occasion.

A truck from Brownwood’s Flour Power bakery, Army recruiters and Matthew Williams’ State Farm fire truck were on hand for the ceremony.

Howard Payne athletic director Hunter Sims said he was glad for the opportunity to recognize American veterans. “For us it’s just an honor to be able to give back the little that we can,” Sims said. “Sometimes I think we forget just how many people are involved in our armed forces, and it’s just such a great day for all our military veterans that have been with us and it’s a great day for Howard Payne University.”

HPU dropped both games of Saturday’s doubleheader to East Texas Baptist, 7-4 and 8-4.