April 14, 2013 – On the evening of the Yankees game at West Point (see blog entry above for more details on that), I attended an Army baseball alumni dinner. Former Yankees first baseman Joe Pepitone, who played in several exhibition games at West Point in the 1960s, accompanied me to the event, which was held at the Thayer Hotel — on the United States Military Academy campus.
Pepitone was mentioned prominently in the first story I wrote about the Yankees tradition of playing at West Point (published in the June 2012 Issue of Yankees Magazine), and the opening spread photo featured Pepitone and two cadets in 1969.
In early March, I was informed that the two Army ballplayers in the photo with Pepitone were scheduled to be at the dinner.
Although Pepitone admittedly didn’t remember meeting the cadets when the photo was taken in 1969, he welcomed the opportunity to see them again. And so, at a quiet gathering, Pepitone, 73, was reunited with Pete McCall, 64, and Bill Lord, 63.
The three men, who were originally photographed together almost 44 years ago because they were all born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, immediately began reminiscing about the 1969 game.
“Joe hit one of the longest home runs in West Point history that day,” said Lord, now 63, who was a partner in a recruiting firm before his retirement. “We didn’t have a home run fence up here at that time, so Joe had to slide into home.”
“I wasn’t that fast, but I don’t remember being that slow,” Pepitone responded. “But I’ll take Billy’s word for it. We played hard against the cadets. They were a good team, and they always got after it when they played us.”
Before the end of the night, the former ballplayers re-enacted the original photo. This time, they posed for current-day Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello in a suite that was dedicated to Army’s baseball program that evening.
“When we found out that Joe was going to be at our dinner, we really wanted to re-enact the photo,” Lord said. “Seeing Joe tonight was as much fun as it was meeting him the first time.”
The then and now photos, which are posted below, will be published in a sidebar to my feature story on the March 30 game in the May issue of Yankees Magazine.
–Alfred Santasiere III