BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – Thousands spent their Independence Day at Sahlen Field watching the first place Buffalo Bisons take on the Syracuse Mets. It was an extra special day for one local veteran.

WWII veteran Roy Kinyon threw the first ceremonial pitch, in front of a packed ball park. It was a moment 80 years in the making.

“I always wanted to be a baseball player. You never know, this makes up for it,” Kinyon said.

The 100 year-old vet signed a one day contract with the Bisons. He was given the opportunity to play baseball for the team 80 years ago. At that time he decided to serve our country instead. After his time in the navy, he had a new mission. throw the first ceremonial pitch on the 4th of July.

“It couldn’t be any better. I practiced that throw. I got through it. So that’s what made my day,” he said.

The fans saluted the veteran for a job well done.

“It’s going to be a special moment for any veteran and all of our military people who are going to be in attendance. I think that says a lot about our community for sure,” said Ashley Kicak before the game.

“Good for him. To make it that long, wow. That’s great,” said Emil Lennert, who went to the game with his family.

This was the first time in almost three years that fans were able to celebrate the holiday in the stands.

“The feel of actually being at the stadium verses watching it on tv, there’s just a different energy. Different excitement to it,” said Jeremy Bastian, who traveled from Syracuse to watch the game with family members.

“It’s just so nice to really all be back together here at America’s past time enjoying the game and just to be together and out celebrating the fourth,” said Leia Ince-Mercer.

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Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter from Buffalo, N.Y. who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.