As the sun set on Dodger stadium, preparations began for the start of Monday Night baseball between the LA Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, May 14. The grounds crew meticulously prepared the lush green field for the nightâ€™s event, while players warmed-up by introducing their wooden bats to a few baseballs, cracking several into the crowd of anxious fans. This night was special in that it recognized Senior Airman Richard Sauceda, 163d Security Forces Squadron, Calif. Air National Guard, as the â€œVeteran of the Game,â€ for his military service. In a gesture of support, Saucedaâ€™s girlfriend, Stephanie Oâ€™Hara, accompanied him to the game, not knowing this night would change her life forever.
â€œI wanted to make this night really special for her, which is why I picked this time and occasion to ask for her hand in marriage, in front of 10,000 plus Dodger fans,â€ said Sauceda. â€œLast night, she noticed I was really excited, but she thought it was because we were getting the chance to be on Dodger field.â€
â€œWhen I met Stephanie she was already a Dodger fan, but when she found out I was also a fan she switched-up and said she was really an Angelâ€™s fan, just to be funny. To add spark to our friendly rivalry, she would say, â€œGo Angels!â€ when the two were playing. It adds a bit of spice to the relationship,â€ he said.
When the time came, Sauceda and Oâ€™Hara took their places at the first base line with the camera crews. â€œVeteran of the Game,â€ flashed in brilliant colors under a picture of Sauceda on the big screen. Oâ€™Hara stood by her Airmanâ€™s side smiling, as the crowd cheered for him, not realizing she was on the field for more than just moral support.
Once Sauceda finished waving to the crowd, he turned to his girlfriend opening the ring box. Oâ€™Hara let out a gasp as he took a knee to propose.
â€œStephanie will you marry me,â€ Sauceda asked.
The answer must have been yes, because the crowd erupted into cheers just as their kiss appeared on the Dodgersâ€™ big screen.
Sauceda stood proudly on the field saluting the flag during the National Anthem and when it was over, they exited the field by the Dodger dugout, and received congratulations from the team.
Saucedo, a native Californian, grew up as a Dodger fan in Pomona. He joined the Calif. ANG in Feb. 2008, graduating from boot camp on July 4. He served two years on Counter Drug protecting Californiaâ€™s border and will be deploying in the near future.
â€œI have family in the military who I have always looked up to so I enlisted,â€ Sauceda said. â€œSince then, I have had amazing opportunities.â€
The two Dodger fans have been dating for three years. A meeting through mutual friends after school, opened the door for their first date.
â€œWe would like to give thanks to the Dodgers for saluting the Air National Guard and making a dream come true for my fiancÃ© and I,â€ Sauceda said. â€œThey helped make my proposal special. Stephanie loved it!â€