HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - If you were inside Pete Taylor Park for the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday’s double header between Southern Miss and Gonzaga, you got to witness an emotional moment between a soldier and his 5-year-old son.
Isaac Beasley had the honor of throwing out that first pitch. What he didn’t know was the man behind home plate was someone he hadn’t seen in nearly a year.
Isaac’s father, 1st Lt. Kaleb Beasley, recently returned to Mississippi from a deployment to the Middle East. Beasley, a University of Southern Mississippi graduate, wanted to set up a surprise reunion for his son.
What a surprise it was.
“I had butterflies, of course. I was nervous,” Beasley said of the feelings he had as he squatted behind home plate, just feet away from Isaac. “First time seeing him in about a year, it was a special moment. He’s five. He’s about to start little league baseball. For me looking forward to him playing and our first reunion in a year being on a baseball diamond was a real special moment.”
Isaac stood in front of the pitcher’s mound with his mother, Stephanie. All eyes were on the boy when he tossed a perfect pitch to the masked stranger behind home plate.
“Great pitch,” exclaimed the announcer as the crowd erupted in cheers.
Then, Beasley walked toward Isaac, handed him the ball and removed his mask.
“Daddy,” Isaac said as his dad kneeled down for a long-awaited embrace.
It was a moment the family will never forget.
“Seeing the delight and excitement in his face was heartwarming. He had been bugging my wife for weeks, ‘When’s daddy coming home? When’s daddy coming home?’ So, to see his excitement was heartwarming to me,” said Beasley.
Beasley said missing his family was tough during the deployment, especially since he shipped out shortly after the birth of his daughter, Ryleigh.
“The hardest part was our daughter being born right before I left. I missed out on her first year of life,” said Beasley. “That was one of the hardest things about being away. It was also hard on Isaac, because he started kindergarten this year. It was hard missing out on those critical moments in our child’s lives.”
Beasley said he is happy to be home with his family, and he’s grateful that USM allowed him to have this memorable reunion with his son.