More than 400 Naval Station Norfolk Sailors, families and civilians attended the Navy World Series Throwback Softball Game as part of the installations yearlong Centennial celebration.
The softball game was held at the historic McClure Field and featured throwback uniforms, concessions and prices.
Special guest, retired Major League Baseball player, two-time world champion and the only living player from the 1943 Navy World Series, Eddie Robinson threw the ceremonial first pitch.
“It’s a great honor to be chosen to throw the first pitch,” Robinson said. “I am humbled by this experience and just happy to be a part of such an incredible event to remember the history of this special field and all the baseball greats who have played here. Of all the fields I have ever played on, this is my favorite. I feel like I have come home.”
During the event, the Naval Air Station Airmen played the Naval Training Station Blue Jackets. The Airmen were victorious with a score of 19-8.
“I was absolutely astonished by the amount of hard work and support for this event,” Naval Station Norfolk Commanding Officer Capt. Rich McDaniel said. “From everyone involved in getting the stadium updated and the actual execution by the MWR team to everyone who came out to support … it has been amazing to see it all come together.”
When the U.S. entered into World War II, many of the best Major League Baseball players in the country joined the service and eventually made Norfolk Naval Training Station their home. The base hosted a seven-game “Navy World Series” with lineups that rivaled any pro team from that time period. Gracing the diamond were notable pro players such as Phil Rizzuto, Pee Wee Reese, Dominic DiMaggio, Bob Feller and Eddie Robinson.
Nearly as old as the base itself, McClure Field is also entrenched with history. Initially constructed as a general purpose “athletic field” under naval Yard and Docks project manager Lincoln Rogers in 1918, McClure Field is the second oldest brick baseball stadium in the United States (bested only by Chicago’s Wrigley Field).
The throwback game was one of the 35 events throughout the year honoring and celebrating the Centennial year.