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(AP)When he caught the ball and flipped up the catcher’s mask, Alayna looked at him for a second, realized what’s going on, ran full speed toward him and launched herself into his arms.

This one might get you misty: Nine-year-old Alayna Adams threw out the first pitch beforeThursday’s Tampa Bay Rays-Boston Red Sox game. She was told she’d been selected by the U.S.O. for the honor, partially because her father, Lt. Col. Will Adams, had been deployed overseas in Afghanistan for most of the past two years.

Before Alayna threw her pitch, a message from Dad played on the video board, saying he’d see her soon. Indeed he would.

Because it turned out the whole thing was a ruse orchestrated by the U.S.O and the Rays. Lt. Col. Will Adams was, in fact, dressed in catcher’s gear, crouching behind home plate, awaiting the throw from his daughter.

 

Dana Adams, Will’s wife and Alayna’s mom, didn’t know about the surprise either. Soon, she joined them in tears.

“I thought it was a dream,” Alayna said a few innings later, when the family was interviewed on TV.

“I had no idea,” Dana added.

According to a report from the Tampa Bay Times, Lt. Col. Adams arrived on Wednesday and stayed in a hotel that night to keep up the surprise. He told the Times:

“That was the hardest part. Being back home and not being able to see them.”

Dad’s return would have been memorable anyway it happened, but this sure had style points. And it made a lot more people tear up.

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