Major League Baseball's long tradition of honoring America's military heroes will continue this spring when the Nationals and Red Sox compete in a preseason exhibition game April 1 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
The game, which will be open exclusively to Naval Academy midshipmen and members of the U.S. Navy, will be televised nationally on ESPN. The Nationals will host one exhibition game at the Naval Academy each year through 2019 as part of a new 3-year agreement.
"One of the Nationals' core community platforms is to support the military, which we do through a variety of initiatives, including our in-game Salute to Service, Military Branch Days, and visits by players and coaches to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center," said Mark D. Lerner, principal owner and vice chairman of the Washington Nationals. "It will be an honor for our players and coaches to take part in these games at the Naval Academy, in front of the brave men and women who have committed to serve our country."
Sprawled over 338 acres, the Naval Academy's entire campus is considered a historic landmark. The Nationals and Red Sox will play at Max Bishop Stadium, home of the school's baseball team. Last season, St. Louis Cardinals reliever Mitch Harris became the first Naval Academy grad to pitch in the Majors in nearly a century.
"As a team that has had a number of players who served in the Navy in two World Wars, most notably Ted Williams, we are honored to be part of this special exhibition at the Naval Academy and to play in front of hundreds of midshipmen," Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said. "And given our deep commitment to caring for veterans in all service branches through our Home Base program, we welcome the opportunity to share what we've learned in combating 'the invisible wounds of war.' We can think of no better way to take us into the 2017 season."
The game will be the finale of a two-game exhibition series between the Nationals and Red Sox to close out Spring Training for both clubs. The Nationals open the regular season April 3 at home against the Marlins, and the Red Sox take on the Pirates that day at Fenway Park.
The first professional Major League game played on an active military base occurred last season when the Braves and Marlins played at Fort Bragg on July 3.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.