The Yankees Give a High School Softball Team Something To Smile About
On Tuesday night, the damp crowd at Yankee Stadium was eagerly waiting for the start of the game after a 50 minute rain delay.
Michael Kay, Paul O'Neill, and Ken Singleton were announcing the game for the YES network, and as they were talking, the camera shots seemed to be avoiding shots of the field. Kay eluded that the Yankees had something special planned for the first pitch.
To honor Mariano Rivera for notching his 500th career save the other night against the Mets, the closer was going to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The crowd roared with delight and the inconvenience of the rain delay and being soaked by the downpour was erased.
Mo threw his pitch like he does on most nights to Jorge Posada, and after a hug from his catcher, Rivera waved and headed off the field.
As nice as that tribute to Rivera was, what happened before Rivera threw the first pitch was pretty special in its own right.
A couple of weeks ago, the Westhill High School softball team from Fairfield County, Connecticut was playing in the state tournament when they fell victim to a technicality that led to them being eliminated from the tournament.
Yankees' GM Brian Cashman, who happens to be a resident of Fairfield County, got wind of the girls' situation. He and several other Yankee officials live in the area, and decided to pull some strings for the team.
Westhill's athletic director, Mike King received a call that the Yankees wanted to invite the softball team out to the stadium to take the field with the players for the National Anthem.
King thought someone was playing a prank on him, but it turned out to be the truth. The team was going to go to the stadium on June 18, but a five-hour rain delay pushed back the team's visit to the Bronx.
Last night, after only a 50-minute rain delay, the Yankees took the field accompanied by the Westhill softball team at their respective positions for the playing of the National Anthem.
To their credit, the girls kept their composure, and stood next to the Yankee players with their hands over their hearts like consummate professionals.
Once the National Anthem was over, the girls got handshakes from the Yankees before they headed off the field. Business as usual resumed, and the Yankees got their warm-up throws in before Joba Chamberlain threw his first pitch.
There is no way that missing out on a shot to win a state championship can be erased by getting the opportunity to stand on the field at Yankee Stadium with the Yankees, but it can certainly ease the pain.
Westhill's catcher, Lynette Martinez grew up watching Jorge Posada, and she was so overwhelmed standing right next to him that she couldn't even recall what the catcher said to her.
The Yankees did a good thing by acknowledging the Westhill High School softball team, and even though they couldn't change the outcome of what occurred in their game, they were able to give the girls a night they won't forget.
Sometimes it's important to not only recognize when people win, but when they manage to come through a difficult situation with poise and maturity.
Even big league players like the Yankees recognize that in sports things aren't always fair, and because they recognize that, those girls will not have to look back on their season with such disappointment.