‘Green tail’ chases big league dreams

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
An Airman from the 321st Missile Squadron has been working toward what many would consider a lofty goal: playing for a Major League Baseball team.

Though his path has been unusual, Senior Airman Devin Mooney, 321st Missile Squadron commander support staff and Personnel Reliability Program monitor, hopes to impress teams at walk-up tryouts.

"I'm looking to be the first active-duty Air Force Airman to transition from military life to the MLB," said Mooney. "It's my big push right now. I'm trying to be a major league pitcher."

Achieving professional level in any sport takes a lot of time and determination and a bit of support from wingmen and leaders can go a long way to making it possible.

Mooney's commander, Lt. Col. Johnny Galbert, 321st Missile Squadron, said Mooney's passion for baseball is well-known in the squadron.

In addition to his passion for the sport, Galbert lauded Mooney's passion and contributions to the nuclear deterrence mission in his dual-role as CSS and PRP monitor.

As a CSS, Mooney handles various administrative, paperwork and personnel tasks, and as a PRP monitor, Mooney makes sure the missileers heading out to the missile complex to man Minuteman III ICBM launch control center are fit to fight, both mentally and physically. Mooney is also a member of the base honor guard, a little league coach and winner of various squadron and group-level awards.

"Devin has done a tremendous job for us here at the 321st," Galbert said. "He's got so much going on right now."

Galbert said when Airmen can compete at the highest levels of a sport, sometimes the Air Force will allow them to shorten their enlistment or convert some of the enlistment's remaining time into Air Force Reserve component time, and said he would help Mooney in any way he could.

"We'd hate to lose Devin because he does so much for us, but it would give me and the men and women of the 321st great joy to see him out there in the big leagues and being able to say, 'There goes a green tail,'" Galbert said.

Mooney said he loves the Air Force and being a 'green tail,' a member of the 321st MS, and that he will never regret his decision to join instead of playing in college.

"I chose to join the military," he said. "I had a three-year hiatus from baseball between my tour in Italy and my first year here. It was actually youth league coaching that reignited that passion, feeling that love for the game again."

He hopes that by being successful in his pursuit of MLB will inspire young people and other Airmen.

"I want to be able to push a message out there to all my brothers and sisters in arms, and also kids that have lost their way," he said. "I want to be able to say, 'I never had talent, but if you work your butt off and stick to your dreams, you can succeed.'"

He will attend professional team tryouts later this month.  

"You go out there and throw 12 pitches," he said. "If they like you, they like you, and if they don't, they don't."

A lot of players try out, but Mooney said he hopes he has what it takes to stand out.

"I have heart and perseverance and determination," he said cheekily, then gave the reason scouts would really be looking at him, "I also have a pretty blistering fastball, if I do say so myself."

His fastball averages between 93 and 95 miles per hour, which means he is at least comparable to MLB pitchers who average in the low 90s.

In order to keep in shape and ready to pitch, he can be found in the gym daily, doing yoga, playing or coaching for local teams.

"I go to the gym and watch myself in the mirror so I can closely examine my mechanics of my throw: what I am doing wrong, how I can improve," he said. "I take into account the smaller body I have compared to most major league pitchers and try to get every ounce of juice I can from each throw."

Keeping active while working toward his baseball goal has the added benefit of ensuring he's fit, Mooney said. Even though he has a lot on his plate, he ensures the mission always comes first.

"There's times I want to move up my [morning] gym sessions, but I step back and realize 'your job is your job,'" he said. "It says it right in our core values: 'Service Before Self.'"