To close out Spring Training, the New York Yankees became the first Major League team to play Army at West Point in an exhibition game since 1986 when the Yankees defeated Army 10-5 on Saturday. The Yankees are now 22-0 all-time against Army, but the game was secondary on Easter weekend.
The was the first time the Yankees have played at West Point since 1976, and many players–like Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Mark Texeira, and Andy Pettitte–found the experience moving. As did skipper Joe Girardi, whose father was a Korean War veteran.
“I thought it was a wonderful experience going around the university and looking at the different buildings,” Giradi said.”I took my time. I had a chance to eat with the cadets in the mess hall, and then the game. I spent 2 1/2 innings over there talking to their players. That was a real thrill.”
Army coach Joe Sottolano said the Yankees “made us feel special” by playing them at West Point two days before opening day and during Easter wekend.
“The greatest gift that they say you can give people is time,” Sottolano said. “They gave us that time, and we’re very respectful and grateful for that.”
“Our adversity is miniscule [compared to] when they go through adversity,” Joe Girardi said. “Their adversity can be much more costly than what ours is. When you go through a day like today, it really makes you appreciate our country. It makes you appreciate what the military does for you. But it also keeps life in perspective.”
According to the New York Post, Rivera, who announced he will retire after the season, “met one cadet who is training to defuse bombs” and also met with “a senior cadet named Mario Cortizo, who gave a gift–an ornate mug–to his fellow Panama native.”
“I was proud of him, knowing he comes from Panama,” Rivera said. “I bet he didn’t have that much money to be here, but between the embassies, he got in. That’s a blessing. I got invited [to the graduation], too. I might be here.”
The Post reported that play stooped at 5 o’clock so the American flag could be lowered and both teams shook hands at the end of the game.