The ‘Evil Empire’ of baseball has a heart

The New York Yankees might have just played the most significant game of their season, and it wasn’t even against another major league team. On March 18 the New York Yankees paid a visit to the Virginia Tech campus and participated in an exhibition game to honor the victims of the last year’s campus shootings.

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By Mike Meraz

By Mike Meraz

The New York Yankees might have just played the most significant game of their season, and it wasn’t even against another major league team.

On March 18 the New York Yankees paid a visit to the Virginia Tech campus and participated in an exhibition game to honor the victims of the last year’s campus shootings.

The game ended in an 11-0 victory by the Yankees, but the score was miniscule in comparison to the effect of the Yankees visit.

It was a game that was less about baseball and more about the students.

George Steinbrenner and the Yankees have shown their support to the mourning school ever since the events of April 16, 2007.

Immediately following the shooting, Steinbrenner and the Yankees donated $1 million to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, a foundation started to help the grieving families and friends of the victims of the shootings.

Steinbrenner also promised that the Yankees would be coming to Virginia Tech. He finally made good on his promise.

Participating in the exhibition game were not only all of the Yankee starters, but also superstar Derek Jeter and the $300 million man Alex Rodriguez.

Rodriguez told ESPN.com that it was “the proudest day he has ever had as a Yankee.” That is a huge statement coming from someone who has been to the playoffs multiple times and has had a hall of fame career.

Rodriguez spent most of the day in the opposing team’s dugout, signing autographs and giving players advice.

Jeter arrived at the ballpark with his jersey placed next to the gravestone of Mike Pohle, one of the 32 students who were slain last April. The jersey was placed by Marcy Crevonis, Pohle’s fiancée.

Jeter was quoted as saying he didn’t exactly know why the Yankees visit brought about such high spirits around the campus, but as long as it helped, he was all for it. This is, in essence, the beauty of the situation.

Sports can have a mystical, sort of therapeutic effect on specific situations that not much else can duplicate.

To Jeter, it was just another visit to many of his thousands of fans, but to the school, it meant much more. It was another huge step in moving on from the horrific events that took place in April 2007.

In the midst of a terrible tragedy, sports can be one of the driving forces in the rebuilding process of many people’s lives.

It signifies a return to some sort of normality in the lives of many sports fans. It also serves as a beacon of hope to many individuals.

It comes as no surprise that directly following the terrible events of Sept. 11 the commissioners of the NFL and MLB voted to continue playing games.

According to the New York Yankees Web site, many players and coaches are still told to this day of how the Yankees run in the playoffs in the year of 2001 helped restore hope to many fans lives across the country.

Regardless of what one thinks of the Yankees, you have to admire them.

Their sense of social responsibility and willingness to help is something not often seen collectively in professional sports.

Even Red Sox fans should be proud, if only for a day.

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