Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Navy over the Orioles, a WWII softball title and more of MLB stars playing at U.S. military locations

On July 3, 2016, the Marlins and Braves will play an official MLB regular-season game on a field constructed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. A newly constructed field will hold 12,500 spectators, and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN as the week's Sunday Night Baseball offering.

While the game will be the first official MLB game to be played at a military base, it certainly won't be the first time that MLB players have visited United States military institutions to play America's pastime.

West Point

While many professional players like Pee Wee Reese and Joe DiMaggio put their careers on hold to serve their country in times of need -- and played baseball and softball at institutions like Norfolk Naval Station and Santa Ana Air Force Base -- the most storied crossover between the military and professional baseball players have been exhibition games.

The United States Military Academy sits on the bank of the Hudson River about 60 miles north of New York City, and has played hos to the Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Tigers and Yankees over the years.

While the Yankees are 22-0 against Army baseball, the Giants have had a much more colorful history of playing at West Point. in 1923, the cadets played Mel Ott's Giants to a 2-2 tie (the game was called after the 10th on account of rain and darkness). Heisman Trophy winner/Army center fielder Glenn Davis singled and came around to score the tying run when his teammate doubled off the wall.

Years before the infamous tie, famed Giants hurler Christy Mathewson was even hired by the Army Athletic Association to train its pitchers for a few weeks, which culminated in the Cadets betting Mathewson that he couldn't hit a stationary glove in the same spot with 25 consecutive pitches.

They reportedly gave him 12-to-1 odds, and Mathewson cleaned up, walking away with $600 and the satisfaction of having taught some Cadets a valuable lesson.


Given the close proximity to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., it should come as no surprise that the Orioles have occasionally played Navy's Midshipmen in exhibition games.

One such instance game in 1985 as Cal Ripken Jr.'s iconic Ironman streak -- still in its infancy -- was in jeopardy. Then one of the coaches of that Navy team, Bob Ravener, recounted that afternoon in a feature article for the USNA alumni magazine, "Shipmate":

"For Navy, 1985 had historic significance all its own when we actually beat the Orioles in that exhibition game, against all odds in Annapolis, with lasting impact on the Navy baseball program. The team went on to finish 25-7-1 that season. That momentum catapulted them to a league championship the next year with the first thirty-win season on record for a Navy baseball team and another coveted trip to the NCAA tournament. Joe Duff went on to win 595 games as the legendary head coach before retiring in 1995."