Marlins group to visit US troops overseas
Andre Dawson has a Hall of Fame wardrobe and a tendency to overpack when he travels, so he wrestled with what take on his trip beginning Thursday to visit U.S. troops in Southwest Asia and Germany.
Dawson will join several other members of the Florida Marlins' organization on the eight-day tour.
''I've been trying to get a feel for exactly what the attire is while we're over there,'' Dawson said. ''It's casual and laid-back. I will bring jeans.''
''I've never seen you in jeans,'' team president David Samson exclaimed.
''And sneakers,'' Dawson said. ''I'm trying to tone it down.''
He knows this will be a road trip unlike any other. Among those joining Dawson and Samson on the tour will be left fielder Logan Morrison and catcher John Buck, former Marlin Jeff Conine and three of the team's Mermaids dance crew. Dawson and Conine are special assistants to Samson.
Dawson said he wanted to take part when a Marlins group visited Iraq and Kuwait a year ago, but he had other obligations because he had recently been elected to the Hall of Fame.
''I feel honored just to be invited,'' said Dawson, whose father was an Army major general. ''It's going to be perhaps the opportunity and the experience of a lifetime.''
''We're going over there to entertain them, I guess,'' Morrison said. ''But I'm pretty sure we're going to be the ones getting entertained.''
Morrison said he's eager to make the trip as a way to honor his late father, who was in the Coast Guard.
''The troops do what they do over there so we can play a game for a living,'' Morrison said. ''That's something that needs to be recognized, not just once a year but year-round.''
The Marlins are taking jerseys, hats and other souvenirs to share, and they're taking their gloves in anticipation of working out with the troops.
The trip is sponsored by Armed Forces Entertainment, and for security reasons, few details regarding the itinerary have been released. The Marlins know they'll visit several bases in Southwest Asia and a military hospital in Germany, and they'll be eight time zones away when the Super Bowl begins.
That means kickoff at 2:30 a.m. Monday.
''We'll all be up watching it,'' Samson said. ''We're trying to do a Marlins-troops Super Bowl watch party. That should be interesting if we can get that together.''
The goodwill group's not planning to sleep much. The schedule calls for 18- and 19-hour days, at least a couple of redeye flights and a total of 32 hours in the air.
Dawson plans to bring along a DVD of ''The Hurt Locker.''
''I might as well look at war movies,'' he said.
''I watched `Green Zone' the other night and got scared,'' Morrison said with a chuckle. ''So I'm going to stay away from that. I'm watching `Family Guy' or something.''