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Veteran meets 'Gonzo' after serving overseas during '01 World Series
Duane Haven, a U.S. Navy Veteran, Finds Comfort in Baseball Amidst Overseas Deployment
It may be America’s pastime, but these World Series games have international viewership, especially those serving our country overseas.
In turbulent times, some turn to America’s pastime as a haven.
That applies to Duane Haven who played a little catch with us before game four of the World Series.
Growing up in Window Rock, Arizona, the birthplace of the Diamondbacks in 1998, came at a time he’d need a reminder of home and what he was fighting for – as he was preparing to deploy with the U.S. Navy.
He held the demanding and dangerous job of a director of flight operations on an aircraft carrier.
”There some chances of getting blown overboard or getting sucked into an intake of an aircraft,” he said.
When it came time to put it all behind him for a short break Haven landed back stateside just a day before 9/11. The morning of those attacks, he barely had time to unpack his bags before he got ordered to get back on a plane.
There was no fear or hesitation for Haven in that moment. ”Just motivation to get out there, and get back at those people who did this to us,” he said.
Weeks later, when the country was looking for any opportunity of normalcy, some found that through the World Series.
It would be the first appearance for the D-backs as they paired up against the New York Yankees.
For some of those watching the armed forces network in the Persian Gulf, the first pitch came around 3 a.m.
”It was a little taste of home, watching the TV screen, seeing the fan base here in Arizona, it was just an exciting time to escape the reality of where we’re at,” he said
The unforgettable ending to that series came full circle this season for Duane.
At a late season game, he recognized Luis 'Gonzo' Gonzales near the center field pool and told him his story of where he celebrated their first franchise win.
Gonzo wanted to celebrate Duane Haven.
”His response said no sir it was an honor to meet you. Thank you for your service, that just brightened up the day right there,” he said.