The New York Mets first game of the regular season is on April 3rd against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Before they open their season in Queens, the Mets will finish their spring training schedule against the Black Knights of West Point Academy.
For the ninth time in their history, the New York Mets will make the trek up the Hudson River to take on the Division I baseball team.
This final exhibition game of spring training for the Mets will take place on March 31 at 3 pm on Doubleday Field at Johnson Stadium.
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Doubleday Field is named in honor of the fabled inventor of Baseball, Abner Doubleday who was a West Point Graduate. While much of the true history of the game is obscured, legend tells us that Doubleday thought up the game during his Sophomore year at West Point whilst on leave. Tales also tell us that he based the game on an English schoolyard children’s game known as rounder’s.
As an 1842 graduate of the Academy, Doubleday served faithfully and honorably for the Union Army in the Civil War and fired the first shot of the Battle of Fort Sumter. After almost 30 years of service, Doubleday retired from the Army in 1873. He spent the rest of his life in peace until he passed away in New Jersey at the age of 74 in 1893.
As part of the centennial celebration of the game of baseball, the baseball field at West Point was dedicated in the name of Doubleday in 1939.
While West Point is not known as a baseball powerhouse, the Academy has turned out 60 players in its history. The most recent being two left handed pitchers. The first, being Nick Dignacco, who spent time in the Northwest League in 2014. Secondly, Chris Rowley, who has been a part of the Toronto Blue Jays system since 2016.
In addition to churning out players, West Point has also graduated a commissioner that never was. In 1951, Douglas MacArthur, of World War II fame, was offered the position of Commissioner of Baseball after a unanimous selection by the 16 team owners. MacArthur turned down the offer citing the “great honor” of the offer but “could not accept the job.”
The position would end up going to Ford Frick, the National League President of 17 years.
The spring training exhibition game tradition began just one year after the Mets joined Major League Baseball in 1962. In that first contest, the nearly brand new Mets beat the Black Knights by a score of 3-0 on May 6, 1963. In their most recent contest, recent being relative, the Mets beat the Knights 6-0 in 1984.
The March 31 contest will be a continuation of a fantastic tradition between the Mets and West point.
“The Mets are proud to be able to continue the strong bond we have with our military, and this is a new way to show our appreciation for the sacrifices and bravery of our nation’s armed forces,” explained Mets Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Wilpon.