The group of military veterans entered the Bronx, N.Y. stadium through the center field gate. They propelled their specially made bicycles by hand around the warning track and were recognized by the crowd of over 40,000.
According to the Yankees release, Swisher said:
“It’s an honor for the entire Yankees organization to welcome these brave men and women to Yankee Stadium,” said Swisher, who will be meeting with Wounded Warrior Project alumni from across the country throughout this year. “Giving back to those who have served our country is a priority for the Yankees and we are proud to be taking part in New York’s Soldier Ride events.”
Last fall, Swisher and his wife, Joanne Garcia, traveled to Germany and Afghanistan to visit U.S. troops. The trip amounted to a honeymoon for the couple who were married in late 2010. How many couples would do that?
In an interview issued by New Balance, Swisher said about the trip:
"It was an honor to be there."
About what he learned from the trip, Swisher said:
"Thing I really learned in Afghanistan is the meaning of the word team, finally being over there and experiencing that."
On June 9th, the Yankees held Military Appreciation Day. Swisher wore two pairs of special cleats for batting practice and the game against the Mets that were later auctioned off. The proceeds went to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
"Swisher’s custom New Balance cleats specifically honor 68 Whiskey, a military occupational specialty for health care specialists in the U.S. Army."
"My grandfather was a military man who fought in the Korean War, so I've always been a supporter of the military. And after a visit to our armed forces in Afghanistan, this cause means even more to me," said Swisher.
We talked with Yankees manager Joe Girardi at the Yankees Veterans Day event which packed 5,000 holiday package events for troops. At the event, Girardi mentioned his father was a Korean War veteran.
In the New Balance interview, Swisher said:
"People in America they need to know how amazing our troops, men and women of the Armed Services are. Regardless of what branch you are in, we are all in this together."
A few years ago, I was at a meeting in New York City with a number of military officials preparing for New York City Fleet Week. When asked what the crew members visiting would like to do, the commanding officer said:
"We have a lot of baseball fans on board hoping to go to a game."
I have told athletes in the past that often times the highlight of a soldier's day is emailing home and checking out what their favorite team did the night before.
Nick Swisher and his wife are two people who understand how important sports can be to the morale of military members serving overseas and those recovering from wounds and injuries back at home.
Ken Kraetzer covers Iona basketball and West Point football for WVOX 1460 AM and Sons of the American Legion Radio.