SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers announced on Thursday that Robbie Parker will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the home opener against the Angels on April 5 at Rangers Ballpark. Parker is the father of 6-year-old Emilie Parker, who was killed in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14. Twenty children and six adults died as a result of the shootings.
Parker is from North Texas and a lifelong Rangers fan. Through the efforts of several local baseball websites -- including the Newberg Report, Lone Star Ball and Baseball Time in Arlington -- thousands of dollars have been donated by individuals in North Texas to Emilie's Fund, which assisted families of those impacted by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"Shortly after the tragedy in Newtown, both John Blake and I saw a picture on the Internet of Mr. Parker and his daughter Emilie watching batting practice at Rangers Ballpark. As we learned more about Robbie Parker being a Rangers fan, John and I discussed having him here for Opening Day and the ceremonial first pitch," Rangers vice president Chuck Morgan said. "We took the idea to Nolan Ryan and it was done. It was an honor for me to call Robbie and invite him to Texas for Opening Day, something I will never forget. A special tip of the cap to Rangers fans that have donated time and money to help the folks in Newtown, Conn., and brought this to our attention."
Major League Baseball will honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting during the opening games of the 2013 regular season. All players, managers, coaches, umpires and on-field personnel will wear a symbolic ribbon patch and observe a moment of silence in their opening games (March 31 to April 2) in a league-wide effort to remember the 26 individuals who lost their lives.
"The unimaginable tragedy that befell Newtown, Conn., will never be forgotten," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Major League Baseball, all 30 clubs and baseball fans from around the country and Canada offer our deepest sympathies and our unbridled support as the community continues to heal from this heartbreaking day."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.