(PAPILLION, Neb.) — It’s a surprise 8-year-old Jackson Zortman will never forget. Jackson, a big baseball fan, was picked to throw out the first pitch for the Omaha Storm Chasers, AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, as the honorary “kid of the week” at Werner Park.
Unfortunately, Rik Zortman, Jackson’s dad, was in Mississippi training with the Iowa Air National Guard and wasn’t around to help Jackson practice for his big moment. Instead, Jackson practiced all week with his brother and sister to help him get ready.
The big day came and Jackson threw out the first pitch of the game. The announcer then explained that the catcher had a secret. As Staff Sgt. Zortman took off his catcher’s mask, he knew he had pulled off quite a surprise. Jackson and his family all rushed to hug him at home plate and welcome him home.
“I heard them say his name, but I didn’t think that he would be here,” Jackson told ABC’s Omaha, Neb., affiliate KETV.
“It’s been tough because I’ve been hiding out. But I’ve been going to places I knew they wouldn’t be,” said Rik Zortman.
This isn’t the first surprise from Staff Sgt. Zortman either. He once surprised his wife on Mother’s Day by setting up a scavenger hunt for her to find him.
“It was super sneaky,” said his wife Lindsay Zortman. “We’re not going to be able to believe him when he sends messages or updates his Twitter.”
It was a day that Jackson will never forget, and he even hopes to one day surprise his future family too, just like dad does.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jose Pagliery, CNN
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN