Sgt. Brandon Guy hugs his son Carson, 5, whom he surprised by posing as a Chattanooga Lookouts catcher while Carson threw out the baseball game's opening pitch Thursday at AT&T Field in Chattanooga. Sgt. Guy has been deployed with the U.S. Army for six months, but returned for a two-week vacation with his family.Photo by Doug Strickland.
It was the kind of plan for a father-son reunion that choked up everyone who heard about it. Carson Guy, a tow-headed 5-year-old, would throw the "first pitch" at the Lookout's game Thursday. Little would he know that his dad, Army Sgt. Brandon Guy, would be dressed up as the Lookout's catcher. After Guy caught the ball, he would take off his mask and reveal his true identity to his son, who hadn't seen him since he was deployed to Afghanistan six months before. Elation would ensue.
Spoiler alert: The kid never threw the ball.
There was much pep talking before the big throw. Carson was anxious, with his head buried in his mom Stacey Guy's dress. His grandparents tried to get him to practice tossing the ball, but he wouldn't. All attention was on Carson, but he didn't know why. And it was probably getting close to his bed time. He rubbed his eyes.
"I can't wait to see what's going to be on his face when he sees his dad," said Ron Guy, Carson's "Papaw."
Brandon Guy is home for two weeks, before he heads back to Afghanistan for six more months. His mother-in-law, Peggy Chapman, couldn't tell if it was Guy in the uniform squatting behind home plate, until somebody threw him a ball. He missed.
"Yeah, that's him," she said with a chuckle. "He used to play in high school," but she said he was a little out of practice.
When it was Carson's turn to take the mound, he showed no intention of actually throwing the ball. Instead, he looked like a tired, shy kid, who wasn't even old enough for T-ball. So the announcer cut to the chase, and told the catcher to go introduce himself to Carson.
When Guy reached his son, Carson didn't seem to comprehend what was going on. Slowly, he let his dad pick him up. There was no squealing or laughter. Just tight hugs, and a kid who wouldn't let go of his dad's neck, even as they left the field before the game ever started.
Mary Helen Miller joined the staff at the Chattanooga Times Free Press as a multimedia reporter in 2013. She produces audio, video, and graphics for the Web, and occasionally writes stories. Before starting at the Times Free Press, Mary Helen worked as a radio reporter at WUTC, the NPR affiliate station in Chattanooga. She won an Edward R. Murrow award for a story she produced there about the anniversary of the 2011 tornadoes that hit ...