Her pitch bounced twice before rolling softly into a glove near home plate, a moment that began a reunion. Alayna Adams, 9, walked toward the batter's box with a casual pace before a voice over Tropicana Field's public-address system gave an introduction to remember.
"Catching today's ceremonial first pitch, fresh back from Afghanistan, please welcome Lt. Col. Will Adams!"
The father had removed his catcher's mask, and Alayna began a sprint toward his arms. The crowd's roar grew with each second.
Soon, there were images that showed the bond between father and child, the power of presence and renewed love: A giant hug at home plate; Will lifting Alayna into his arms; Will's wife, Dana, jogging from the mound after a meeting that became a surreal surprise.