New York Yankees Take on Virginia Tech
In a 2002 New York Times Interview, Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino called the New York Yankees the "Evil Empire" and the name has stuck ever since.
On April 16, 2007, 32 college students were killed on a murderous rampage by Seung-Hui Cho and many other students were seriously injured. After the deaths had been counted, this event was declared the most deadly school shooting in U.S. History.
Also on April 16, 2007, The New York Yankees were preparing to play a game against the Cleveland Indians to take place in New York on the following day. Upon hearing of the event, many of the Yankees, including owner George Steinbrenner, felt the same feelings they felt during the September 11th attacks at the World Trade Center.
George Steinbrenner, who is usually known as "The Boss", had heard news of the massacre and was deeply affected. Months after the event, The Boss released a statement which said, "The events that took place this spring in Virginia have deeply affected us all, but the Virginia Tech community has shown great spirit and resolve during this difficult time, and the New York Yankees are proud to join so many others in supporting the healing process."
Yankees Captain and second baseman Derek Jeter then presented Charles Steger, the President of Virginia Tech, with a $1 million dollar check to go to the Virginia Tech Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, which will cover the costs of counseling and other expenses of the victims of this horrible tragedy, on behalf of the New York Yankees.
In March of 2008, the Yankees continued one of the most gracious gifts a professional team has ever given to another baseball team: Happiness.
When The Boss announced the donation, he had one stipulation: that the Yankees would get to play an exhibition game against the Hokies in the Spring of 2008.
The Yankees took the field against the Hokies on March 19, but the game was obviously about something more than baseball.
Said about the donation and the game: "The things that went on at Virginia Tech ... it just puts things in perspective," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said. "Baseball is not everything, and you [take] your life for granted. But this is an example of the great organization we are representing. I think the Yankees are doing the right thing."
"There are certain things that happen that are so devastating that time stops," said Yankees All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez upon comparing the massacre to the events on September 11th, 2001, "For me, this is one of them. This is probably the proudest day I've ever [had] to wear a Yankee uniform."
The Yankees first stop was the memorial that had been set up for the 32 victimes.
"People always ask, well, what can you do? How does this help? I really don't know." said Derek Jeter, "If it just makes people smile or enjoy themselves for the three hours that we're here, it's all worthwhile."
During pre-game ceremonies and memorials and during questions after the game, the Yankees wore Virginia Tech orange and maroon hats with their "NY" emblem emblazoned on the front and a "VT" symbol on the sides to show part of their support.
The Yankees might have beaten the Hokies 11-0, but both the Yankees and the Hokies will remember more than just the score.
To make the game a little more meaningful, during the first innning Girardi sat in the stands with VT Football coach Frank Beamer
When attempting to describe the Yankees impact on the commity at Virginia Tech, Yankees GM Joe Girardi said that "[a] young lady came up to me and said her brother was one of the children killed, and her mother thanks us for being here...that really hit me hard."
"I think it was just the sort of thing we were looking for," said Virginia Tech pitcher Rob Waskiewicz, who retired the side in order in the third. "We've been through some hard times, and people are starting to feel better, but I think this was a great thing."
To end the day, Hokies' second baseman Matt Hacker said: "It was everything everybody wanted it to be."
VT Baseball Coach Pete Hughes, an avid Boston Red Sox fan, declared"I grew up my whole life just hating the Yankees. I mean just hating them," he said. "Now, I'll look at them differently. We'll all look at them differently."
I guess the Yankees aren't so evil after all...if, at least, for one day.
Virignia Tech has requested that anyone whom would like to make a donation, please do so by donating to the Hokie Spirit Scholarship Fund. If you are interested in donating, please click here.
If you would like to make a donation to Virginia Tech, please call 1-800-533-1144 or visit http://www.vt.edu/remember for more information.
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