The MIT Police Department honor guard set a new standard among university police forces on Tuesday, Aug. 30, when it took the field at Boston's Fenway Park to present the flag before the evening game between the Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
"We are the first college honor guard to present the colors at Fenway. It was a very nice evening. Marching out from the on-deck circle, we were up close to the players," said Patrol Officer William Smith, the drill team member who proposed the idea to the Red Sox.
Six MIT drill team members presented the colors at Tuesday night's game. All wore the now-familiar Class A uniform, featuring a cross belt and a garrison hat custom-designed for the drill team. Two carried M1 rifles, one carried a sword and three carried flags of the United States, Massachusetts and MIT.
"They were prepared. It went spectacularly well. I was proud of them," said Lt. Daniel Costa, a former Marine Corps drill instructor and a former member of the Massachusetts State Police drill team. Costa has coached the MIT honor guard team since 2002.
The Red Sox were ready for MIT, too, escorting the drill team members immediately to home plate when they arrived at the park. From that point on, the group's twice-monthly practice drills and its extensive parade experience kicked in.
"We waited until the fourth player in the Red Sox lineup was announced, then used a military maneuver to center ourselves. We presented the colors during the singing of the national anthem, then exited to a locker room to change," Costa said.
Courtesy of the Boston team, the honor guard watched from a right-field box as the Sox defeated the Devil Rays 7-6, scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning. The night was a win-win.
And the honor guard's appearances aren't over. Smith has already contacted the Boston Bruins, and the MIT honor guard is slated to present the colors at TD Banknorth Garden in November.
The 2005 team members, all volunteers, are Patrol Officers William Smith, Kevin O'Connor, Duane Keegan, Mark Kelleher, Robert Molino, Brian Sousa, Sgt. Cheryl Vossmer and Costa.