Va. Tech players awed by Yankees
Goodwill trip gives college athletes experience of a lifetime
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- The Virginia Tech baseball players have more than just the memories from Tuesday's exhibition game with the Yankees. They've also got a lot of stuff.
Pitcher Brandon Fisher was carrying around Alex Rodriguez's batting gloves. After A-Rod was removed from the game, he came over to the Hokies' dugout to hang out with the players.
Rodriguez gave away a pair of bats, his wristband and batting gloves by asking trivia questions about himself. When nobody knew how many career home runs he had, Fisher threw out a lucky guess -- 518 -- and found himself with a piece of memorabilia.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi also contributed. He had 50 lineup cards printed out and signed each one, in addition to giving Tech coach Pete Hughes the team's large dugout card.
"He walked those over to our dugout twice," Hughes said. "He was genuinely excited to give them to us."
All of the players brought their digital cameras and posed for pictures with the Yankees as they finished taking batting practice.
They also got their commemorative hats -- maroon, with an orange NY logo -- signed by the Yankees.
During the game, it was catcher Anthony Sosnoskie who got to talk with the players the most. He made sure to strike up a conversation with all of the batters who stepped into the box.
When Derek Jeter came to the plate, Sosnoskie told him, "Mr. Jeter, we've got to get [championship] number 27." Jeter's response?
"He said, 'Hey, give me a break,' and then winked at me," Sosnoskie said.
Sosnoskie tried to get some catching tips while Jorge Posada was at the plate, but apparently Sosnoskie was getting a little too talkative -- Posada told him he'd be happy to share, but he needed to focus on hitting first.
Hughes made sure to play all of his players at some point during the game, with the exception of his red-shirting freshmen. The coach called the National Collegiate Athletic Association office earlier in the week and asked for permission to play them during Tuesday's game but was denied.
Aside from that, he said he had fun watching his players have fun.
"I'm jealous of our guys, really," Hughes said.
The coach was approached by a member of the Yankees' traveling party and was asked to sign a game ball.
"Really? Me?" Hughes asked. "Do they know about the eight-game losing streak?"
The Hokies may be struggling out of the gate in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but Tuesday was a day to kick back and enjoy the game of baseball.
"Just to meet them and talk to them, it's pretty unbelievable," Hokies third baseman Ty Hohman said.
Several gathered around Yankees general manager Brian Cashman as he let them try on his diamond-encrusted World Series ring.
And while the game, an 11-0 Yankees win, didn't go the Hokies' way -- or even close to their way -- starting pitcher Andrew Wells explained the team's strategy for dealing with the loss.
"If I give up nine home runs to nine Yankees, I'll still be able to walk off the field and have enjoyed it," Wells said.
Wells' final stat line? One run, no hits, two walks and some really cool stuff.
Michael Phillips is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.