Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 4/14/12

For 13-year-old Kyle Smerer, what started as a run-of-the-mill in-game contest ended up being an joyful reunion with his Army sergeant father.

During the Mariners’ home opener Friday night, Kyle participated in the Steal-A-Base contest, where fans must run from center field, steal second base and run back within a limited amount of time. When Kyle procured the base, somebody dressed as an umpire held him up. It was his father, First Sgt. Steve Smerer, whom Kyle thought was still deployed in Afghanistan.

“Somebody grabbed me and I was like, ‘What are you doing? I’m trying to run back in a little amount of time,’” Kyle said, according to MLB.com.

“I was really shocked to see him. I didn’t know he was going to be here. I’ll probably never forget this.”

Also there to welcome back Sgt. Smerer were his parents, his wife, Trina, 1-year-old son, Colton, and 16-year-old daughter, Kayla, who shared a tearful embrace with her father. The adults were the only ones who knew about the sergeant’s surprise.

Smerer, a 17-year Army veteran, shipped off to the Middle East in December. He’ll spend around 11 days home before heading back. He’s due for another homecoming in June. For now, he’s looking forward to spending as much time as he can with his family.

“The anticipation has been a few days since I’ve been back and not been able to see them,” he said. “Just coming back and seeing my family again, and them seeing me after such a long time in such a crazy place in such a crazy world [is great]. Just being able to see them again has been an amazing thing.”

You deserve it, sergeant.

H/T Big League Stew

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