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Class Notes

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A Perfect Day to Renew a Tradition         

After a nearly 37-year absence, the New York Yankees returned to Doubleday Field on Saturday and took on the reigning Patriot League Champion Army Baseball Team. The last time the Yankees headed up the Hudson to play Army was April 19, 1976, but prior to that it was a more regular affair with the two teams playing each other 21 times since 1927. While Saturday’s game ended with another Yankee victory, 10-5, making Army 0-22 in the series, Army Coach Joe Sottolano said that the game was really not about winning or losing. “More than the final score,” he said, “today was about the lifetime experiences that people can have that they’ll never forget.”

Sottolano may have been referring to his own players, but it is obvious that the Yankees were getting just as much out of the visit as the cadets. Prior to the game, the Yankees toured West Point, visiting athletic facilities, the Cadet Chapel, and Trophy Point. They also had lunch with cadets in the Mess Hall, bombarding them with questions about their daily schedule, summer training, and future military careers. Yankee closer Mariano Rivera, who has been in hundreds of high-pressure games in his 18-year career, came away impressed with the cadet who wants to be an explosive ordnance disposal officer once he graduates. “He wants to defuse bombs,” Rivera reportedly said afterwards, “Imagine?”

Once on the field, the Yankees still couldn’t get enough of the cadets. Mark Teixeira, who injured his wrist during spring training and wasn’t playing, spent most of his team’s warm-up talking to Army center fielder Jon Crucitti ’14. The two compared college experiences, MLB rookies to plebes, and parallels between the United States Military Academy and the Yankee organization (“Both have tremendous respect for those who graduated or played before,” Teixeira noted). During the game, the Yankees were still interacting with cadets. Yankee pitcher Joba Chamberlain visited cadets sitting in the center field bleachers and signed autographs and took pictures for his Twitter (“To all the cadets I was with today, promise y’all I will be back,” he later tweeted). Andy Pettitte, Robinson Cano, Ichiro Suzuki, Kevin Youkilis, and even Yankee manager Joe Girardi spent time on Army’s bench during the game talking to Army’s players.

In his post-game press conference, Sottolano credited the Yankees for the respect they showed his team. “They came over with a legitimate interest,” he said: “It was something they really wanted to partake in, and it really made us feel special.”

Asked after the game whether or not he thought the day merited a renewal of tradition, Girardi said, “I sure hope so — it gives you a sense of pride in being an American when you come up here and meet the cadets and see how respectful and appreciative they are of our country.”

GAME NOTES

With temporary bleacher seating set up along the first-base line and beyond the center field wall, Army set a record for attendance at 6,127 fans.

The Yankees wore a patch on their left sleeve displaying an iconic West Point building between two stars with the words “Tradition 2013” and the Yankees interlocking “NY” below the image.

Prior to the game, the Yankees presented West Point with two seats from the old Yankee Stadium and a check for $100,000: The cadets presented Hal Steinbrenner, co-owner and managing general partner of the New York Yankees, with a cadet sabre.

Future Hall-of-Famer Mariano Rivera threw out the first pitch to Army catcher Andrew Johnson ’13.

The Yankees scored first on Brennan Boesch’s homerun to center field in the second inning; the Yankees put up five runs total in the inning.

Army cut the score to 5-3 in the bottom of the third inning off Yankee pitcher Boone Logan and had the bases loaded with only one out, but Girardi brought in pitcher Shawn Kelley, who got Mark McCants ’15 to hit a fly-out RBI and Michael Sands ’13 to ground into a fielder’s choice.

With only one out in the top of the 5th inning, Army pitcher John Malcolm ’16 pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam by getting Eduardo Nuñez to pop out to left field and Chris Stewart to pop out to second base.

Yankee center fielder Melky Mesa hit a homerun to left-center that nearly hit Cullum Hall.

In the past 21 games, the average score between Army and New York was 9.7 runs for the Yankees and 1.5 runs for the Black Knights, making this Saturday’s 10-5 game a statistical “win” for Army.