CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Ethan Gonzales got to live any 11-year-old boy's dream Wednesday night by throwing out the first pitch at the Corpus Christi Hooks game at Whataburger Field.
The moment was made much more special when the catcher who received Ethan's pitch took of his mask to reveal that he was actually the boy's father who'd just returned home from a year-long deployment with the Texas Army National Guard.
“(It was) super surprising," Ethan said. "My dad hasn’t — I haven’t seen him in a year."
Also surprised were Brian Gonzales's two daughters and step-son.
"I wasn’t expecting it," step-son Ismael Hernandez said. "I just thought it was going to be a pitch, and then after he took off the mask. I was like, 'Oh my God!"
Brian's wife of 16 years picked him up at the airport Wednesday morning and dropped him off at a friend's house so he could maintain the surprise for the kids.
Angela Gonzales is used to deployments.
Brian has had three of them overseas in his 20 years in uniform.
But this one was different given the timing during a global pandemic.
“It was very hard, because the whole COVID hit right when he left," Angela said. "And so it was sort of super stressful for us. But we got through it."
The night was very special for Brian who got to reunite with his family, surprise them, and don the uniform of his local team.
“We love the Corpus Christi Hooks," he said. "Thank you for allowing us to do this. It was really a special opportunity for my family and all.”