Big Sky Honor Flight Donation - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Big Sky Honor Flight Donation

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BILLINGS -

It was a night to celebrate for the organizers of the Big Sky Honor Flight, as they received a $10,000 check from the Billings Mustangs Boosters for an upcoming flight.

"The dollars tonight from the Mustangs Boosters is going to send 10 World War Two veterans back to Washington," said Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy.

"We have our freedom because of those folks. It's just genuine that we can do something like that," said Jim Iverson with the Mustangs Boosters.

The check presentation ceremony featured a number of World War Two veterans. One of the guests of honor, however, is, in a way, a living history of baseball in the Magic City.

"In our ball club, we only had 19 players," said Les Barnes. "They got 30 on the ball club now."

Les played for the Billings Mustangs in the late 40s, in a very different city. According to U.S. Census data, the city was home to only a fraction of the total population in 2010, and the Mustangs played at a place called Cobb Field.

"We used to sit back off the intersection a hundred yards, a hundred and 50 yards," said Les. "In fact, the street back there was the outfield fence!"

Les said, however, most of the time he spent with the time was on the road, since opposing teams are spread out across the region, as they are now.

"Great bus trip! Every place you went is by bus! You slept on the bus and everything!" said Les.

Les eventually moved on to play in Spring Training for the Brooklyn Dodgers (now Los Angeles Dodgers). Times have certainly changed in Billings, as the stadium Les played in is no more. On Tuesday, Les, right after helping to accept the Honor Flight check, threw out a ceremonial first pitch for the game. He had these advice for players.

"Work hard. Maybe somebody will go farther on. We've had a lot of ballplayers come out of Billings. A lot of them in the Majors. Good luck to all of them," said Les.

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