A Marine returned home to California from deployment in Japan, and gave his children the ultimate surprise at his son’s baseball game.
U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Randy Brock had been stationed in Japan over the last six months and didn’t tell his kids he was coming home.
“I was excited. I miss my kids,” Master Sgt. Brock, choking up, told InsideEdition.com.
“My wife and I hashed this out a couple months prior. This was the first deployment that my kids realized that I was gone; they were much younger earlier,” he said.
Heath Thomas, manager of Master Sgt. Brock’s son’s baseball team, Team Easton of the Menifee Pony Baseball League, helped plan out the surprise. He told InsideEdition.com, “He left for deployment shortly after AJ, his son, joined the team. They had told the kids that he wasn’t getting back until June.”
Thomas, who called the team a “tight group,” helped set up a scrimmage just for Master Sgt. Brock’s return so that they could pull off the surprise reunion. Most of the kids have known each other since they were five years old, he said.
It was only days before his return that it was confirmed when Master Sgt. Brock would be coming home, so they all scrambled to pull off the scrimmage.
Master Sgt. Brock has been a Marine for more than 20 years (and is also a superb salsa dancer), and has been deployed six times. His painful start in life, which continues to affect his own parenting choices, was featured in the PBS documentary, The Carrier.
While AJ, 10, was up at bat at the game in Menifee, California, and his 9-year-old daughter Mikaella watched from the stands, Master Sgt. Brock crouched on the field, disguised as an umpire.
He intentionally made some bad calls on AJ, and said to him, “Hey, you got a problem with my calls there, batter?’” said Master Sgt. Brock. AJ looked at him sideways, but didn’t recognize his dad and kept playing.
(Courtesy Jim Byrom)
Master Sgt. Brock went to dust off home plate. He said to AJ, “What does your dad always say to you? We want progress, not perfection. And daddy always love you.”
He removed his mask, and stood to face his son. AJ jumped into his arms and his daughter ran onto the field from the stands. The three hugged and shed tears at the emotional reunion.
“It was painful being away,” he said. “I’m getting all choked up even now talking about it.” He had been deployed when his son was born, and only met him when he was four months old, he said.
Before he left for Japan, his mother-in-law had a stroke; his father also suffered a stroke while he was deployed, and his wife, Janet, held down the fort. “She’s a superwoman,” he said.
“She’s been doing everything. It’s difficult. She’s pretty phenomenal,” he said.
Janet said, “I consider myself blessed. I have to count my blessings every time. We have a great family and I can’t ask for anything more.”
This last deployment was especially hard for him, he said. “It was a tough six months; one of the tougher ones I’ve been on. You’re finally holding them, and you think, ‘Do they remember me?’” he said.
Janet couldn’t be more thrilled to have her husband back. “I’m so glad he’s home. We’ve been married 12 years; he’s probably been home steadily for four. You marry into it,” she said.
This past deployment was hard on her children, too, she said. “They’re very close to their dad. He’s an amazing dad. Anything that any husband and father could possibly do, he does.”
“I’ve missed out on a lot of things. I’m trying to catch up,” said Master Sgt. Brock, adding that he’s been glued to his children since returning.
The family thanked the team for its help, particularly from Coach Heath and Tiffany Thomas, President Mike Adams and VP Sean Glynn.
“The whole time he was gone, he was really appreciative that we were there for his family," Coach Heath said. "My wife and I, and some of the other parents, would take his kids to practice. It’s really comforting to him to know that this baseball family is there for him while he’s away."
After the reunion, they had a party for the family, and a parents versus kids baseball game.
“They all deserved that kind of homecoming,” Thomas said.