The victims of last April's Virginia Tech tragedy won't have the luxury of washing away memories, wiping slates clean or enjoying any other mental comfort that baseball teams find every spring. Their hurt can't be reversed.
So the Yankees will do their part to soften every emotion that is sure to flood back when spring rolls around at Virginia Tech. The team announced its upcoming Spring Training schedule on Monday, and the highlight -- for once -- has nothing to do with the Red Sox.
It has to do with Hokies. And healing.
The Yankees will play a Spring Training game against the Virginia Tech baseball team, traveling to Blacksburg, Va., to honor the university -- less than a month before the first anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.
"Since the tragedy of last April 16, the Virginia Tech family has shown great strength and resilience and have committed themselves to the healing process while looking ahead to their future," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement. "We bring the New York Yankees to Blacksburg this spring to celebrate the start of a new year for the Virginia Tech family and ours."
This is nothing new for the Yankees. After a gunman killed 32 people in Blacksburg last year, the Yankees honored victims before a game in May and donated an unprecedented $1 million to the Virginia Tech Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund.
"The events that took place this spring in Virginia have deeply affected us all," Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner said at the time. "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."
The Yankees announced then that an exhibition game was in the works, and Monday's announcement shows that those plans have come to fruition.
The Virginia Tech game will take place on March 18, a day after another highlight on the schedule. The defending World Series champion Red Sox will travel to Legends Field for a game on March 17, as the jewel of 29 Spring Training games against Major League competition.
The Yankees will also welcome the Indians -- the team that eliminated them from the playoffs in October -- to Legends Field on March 16.
Their spring schedule opens on Feb. 29, with an afternoon exhibition against the University of South Florida at Legends Field. That game will give the Yankees a chance to show off their Tampa Tribune Deck in right field, which boosts the stadium's capacity to 11,076. The Yankees will then play their first game of the spring against Major League competition on March 1, taking on the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., before turning the tables on Philadelphia and hosting it in Tampa the next day.
The Yankees also boast home games against the Twins, Rays, Blue Jays, Astros, Reds and Pirates.
Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less