Fox Sports Midwest broadcaster and former St. Louis Cardinal relief pitcher Al Hrabosky receives an Army Combat Uniform blouse from Maj. Scott Davis, of the 70th Troop Command (left), and from Col. David Newman, Jefferson Barracks base commander. "The Mad Hungarian" visited National Guard Troops at Jefferson Barracks on Friday. (Bill Phelan photo)
By Bill Phelan
JEFFERSON BARRACKS, Mo. - Most St. Louis Cardinal fans know Al Hrabosky as a former relief pitcher and broadcaster, but "The Mad Hungarian" is also a military veteran.
So it was with a feeling of camaraderie that Hrabosky spent Feb. 25 visiting Missouri National Guard Troops at Jefferson Barracks in south St. Louis County. To the delight of those in attendance, Hrabosky, who served six years in the Army Reserve, shared stories with Soldiers and Airman, signed autographs and posed for photos.
Sgt. Calvina Cook, administrative noncommissioned officer for the 1138th, said she greatly appreciated Hrabosky's visit.
"He's really nice and he seemed genuinely interested in the 1138th," Cook said. "I appreciate him taking not only the time out to speak to us today but to speak with us while we're deployed. Knowing that he served, and years later is still interested in what the troops are doing now is really good to know."
Hrabosky's visit was in part to promote the "This One's For You" broadcast of a Cardinal game later this summer on Fox Sports Midwest and American Forces Network, which is expected to feature Soldiers of the 1138th Transportation Company live from Afghanistan. The unit, based at Jefferson Barracks, is slated for deployment after May 1.
Hrabosky acknowledged the hardship faced by deploying National Guard troops.
"Today's National Guard units are right there on the front lines every time our troops are put into harm's way," he said. "It's a different era today with multiple deployments. These Soldiers are really putting themselves out there to serve our country."
Recalling his own military service with Cardinal teammate, catcher Ted Simmons, Hrabosky said juggling professional baseball and the Army resulted in an unusual arrangement.
"In 1970 and I was with the Cardinals and in a Reserve unit," Hrabosky said. "Those first three years I was in about five different units in California and then I caught a break. Ted Simmons and I were in the same unit and we were allowed to fulfill our (military) obligation on weekdays during the winters speaking at high schools. So we'd walk into a school wearing fatigues and start talking about the Army and those kids weren't quite expecting that."
Hrabosky said today's youth could benefit from military service.
"I look at the young people today struggling to find a job in this tough economy and I think of the military," he said. "If you're trying to find a place in life I think the military will help you learn a lot about yourself and provide you with a vocation you can use and the discipline you need."
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please visit www.moguard.com and our social media sites:
Fox Sports Midwest broadcaster and former St. Louis Cardinal relief pitcher, Al Hrabosky, "The Mad Hungarian," autographs a baseball for Sgt. Calvina Cook, of the 1138th Transportation Company, at Jefferson Barracks. Soldiers of the 1138th may be featured during a Cardinal game broadcast this summer live from Afghanistan. (Bill Phelan photo)