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Flag in Team USA Dugout Came From Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

USA v Italy - World Baseball Classic - First Round Group D
Christian Petersen, Getty Images

Team USA is still very much alive in the World Baseball Classic. When manager Joe Torre’s squad takes on the Dominican Republic Thursday night, it will once again have a rather tattered U.S. flag hanging in its dugout. As one might assume, it’s no ordinary flag — it used to fly over U.S. troops in Iraq in 2006 and Afghanistan in 2009.

Team USA trainer Rick Lembo was given the flag by a friend of his from Syracuse, N.Y. who had served in the armed forces for several tours. Lembo’s friend told him that the soldiers used to listen to the WBC games on Armed Forces Radio. Torre had Lembo tell the players of the flag’s origin.

“You could hear a pin drop in the room,” said John Blundell, a media-relations representative for Team USA. “It really hit home.”

The World Baseball Classic has taken a lot of flack for not having a great deal of importance to players and fans alike. If the U.S. players hadn’t previously considered what representing their country means, they certainly don’t have to look that far for a reminder.

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