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Very special first pitch at Suns game

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Michael Ball surprised his children at the Suns game Thursday night

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some people do not like surprises.  You can now count the Ball family from Jacksonville as those who do.

After a seven month deployment aboard the USS Iwo Jima, Chief Petty Officer Michael Ball returned home and surprised his four children at the Suns game Thursday night.

"This has been overwhelming.  I'm just glad he is home," said Ball's wife Melissa, who did a great job of keeping his return home a secret from her kids.  "It's been the longest three days ever trying to keep the TV's off, trying to keep them in a bubble so they don't know anything about it."

10-year old Ryan Ball was the most shocked out of all his family.  The Jacksonville Suns arranged for him to throw out the first pitch to his father, who was in full catcher's gear to hide his identity.  However, mother nature delayed the start of the game due to heavy rain and lightning. 

"It was the longest hour and a half of my life," Michael Ball said.

With the rain not letting up any, the Suns management decided on a impromptu first pitch on the concourse behind home plate.  After Ryan threw a perfect strike, his father removed his mask and hugged his four children with screams of "Daddy!" ringing out louder than the applause of the fans that gathered around."

"Better than imagined," Ball said.  "So great to have these guys back here and it's like a dream come true."

Ball's six-year old daughter Mikayla was equally as surprised as her brother, "I didn't really know it was going to be him until I saw him take off his helmet."

The first game of the Suns five-game homestand against the Birmingham Barons was rained out Thursday night.  They will play Friday night at 7:05, then a double-header Saturday starting at 5:05.