Little 5-year-old Hailey Sandoval thought she was being honored by the San Antonio Missions baseball team when she was asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch during the Missions game against the Corpus Christi Hooks Sunday evening.
Instead, she was about to be treated to a big surprise.
The man in the catchers uniform was actually her father, Army Sgt. Alvino Sandoval.
He had just returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Hailey’s pitch fell short and as her dad ran out to pick up the ball, he tossed off his catcher’s mask.
The public address announcer asked Hailey to take a look at the man running toward her.
She did, and with eyes filled with tears, she ran toward her father for a hug that both had been looking forward to for six months.
“I’m so emotional right now,” Sandoval said as his daughter hugged his neck. “I’m so happy to see my daughter.”
He said he was not sure they would be able to pull off the surprise that the family and the Missions organization planned.
“I was a little nervous that she would’ve spotted me because she has big eyes,” Sandoval said.
Asked about the family’s plans during Sandoval’s leave, he said they have a lot of catching up to do.