Yanks donate $1 million to Virginia Tech
Team will also play exhibition with Hokies in 2008
NEW YORK -- The Virginia Tech massacre affected families, friends, neighbors, acquaintances. Like a spider web, pain and sorrow spread up, down, sideways -- every string crossing paths and becoming entangled. On April 16, when 32 lives were taken at the hands of a gunman, the U.S. mourned from Maine to California, from Washington down to Florida, where Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner watched the tragic events unfold in Blacksburg, Va.
Fast forward to Wednesday, when manager Joe Torre said that Steinbrenner has his finger on the pulse of society. Those horrifying images and dreadful sound bites snapping from Steinbrenner's television tugged at his heart. And now, a little more than a month after the shooting, the Yankees have made the largest donation to the Virginia Tech Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, as the Boss wrote a check for $1 million.
"Whoa!" a fan shouted from behind the Yankees dugout as Bob Sheppard made the announcement over the loudspeakers.
The fund was established to help those touched by the tragedy, and the money will provide grief counseling, memorials and assistance to the victims and their families.
"The events that took place this spring in Virginia have deeply affected us all," Steinbrenner said in a statement. "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."
Derek Jeter jogged onto the field to present the check just minutes before the Yankees took the field against the Red Sox in the final game of a three-game series. Standing at home plate were Virginia Tech president Dr. Charles Steger, Capt. Vince Houston of the Virginia Tech Police Department, Jason Dominczak and Matthew Johnson of the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad, and Director of Athletics Jim Weaver.
Also on the field were Yankees president Randy Levine, chief operating officer Lonn Trost and general manager Brian Cashman.
Wind snapped the tails of their jackets as the men watched a memorial video on the stadium's big screen. Steger talked with Steinbrenner just minutes before throwing out the game's ceremonial first pitch.
"I could also tell from the tone of his voice and what he said that he's sincere and committed, and really feels it's important to take this kind of step to help these young people regain their lives," Steger said.
Running out to their positions, the Yankees' starting lineup passed the Virginia Tech logos painted near the first- and third-base dugouts. Jorge Posada caught Steger's pitch in front of a nationally televised audience, a throw that came in low but reachable.
The catcher said that it's an honor for him to wear the Virginia Tech logo on his cap -- as the entire team did on Wednesday -- and that he's proud of the way the organization stands behind those at the school.
"The things that went on at Virginia Tech ... it just puts things in perspective," 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."
According to Steger, the Yankees are the only sports team to contribute money to Virginia Tech. And Steinbrenner isn't finished supporting the school, either. The Yankees announced that the team will play an exhibition game against the Hokies baseball team sometime in 2008. All proceeds will be added to the memorial fund.
Others wishing to make a donation can call 800-533-1144.
Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.