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This Day in Yankees History: Yanks play exhibition at Virginia Tech

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The Yankees demonstrated the healing power of baseball on March 18, 2008

New York Yankees v Virginia Tech Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. With the start of the 2020 season delayed for the foreseeable future, the Pinstripe Alley team decided to revive the program in a slightly different format. These daily posts will highlight two or three key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!

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This Day in Yankees History (March 18)

83 years ago

Lou Gehrig got paid on this day in 1937. The Iron Horse agreed to a contract worth $36,000, making him the game’s highest-paid player. He actually asked for $50,000, and judging by his 1936 campaign, he would have been worth it. Gehrig hit .354/.478/.696 with 49 home runs (171 wRC+) en route to winning the American League MVP. He proved worth the investment in ‘37, when he actually had a better year at the plate. He didn’t hit as many home runs, but he managed a 178 wRC+. The model of consistency, that Mr. Gehrig was.

77 years ago

Disrupted seasons happen every now and then in baseball. On this day in 1943, spring training opened later than scheduled—and at alternate locations—due to World War II. The Bombers trained in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Things worked out in the end, as the Yanks won the World Series in five games against the St. Louis Cardinals that year.

12 years ago

The Yankees traveled to Blacksburg, Virginia to play an exhibition game against the Virginia Tech Hokies. It had been less than a year since a mass shooting terrorized the campus and stunned the nation. The Bombers won 11-0, and the Steinbrenner family committed $1 million to the school.

You can see some of the pregame ceremony below, and read the box score here.

Baseball has a way of bringing struggling communities together; it can salve for the broken spirit. I look forward to the round of applause the teams get when they step on the field for the first time in 2020.

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We have two Yankees birthdays todays: Brian Fisher and Johnny Cooney.

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We thank Baseball-Reference, Nationalpastime.com, and FanGraphs for providing background information for these posts.