ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Members of the Nationals and Red Sox got a small view into the lives of students at the U.S. Naval Academy on Saturday, when they received a tour of the facility and had a chance to interact with the midshipmen. Then, the teams played to a 4-4 tie in the Naval Academy Baseball Classic as part of a full day and unique experience.
"Any time you're able to come in and enjoy that moment and take them away from everyday life and really just try to have some fun and enjoy it, it was a lot of fun," Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper said. "I had one kid pull me aside and told me a story about one of the pictures inside, and it just put everything in perceptive."
The day began with a breakfast reception in the cafeteria where everyone normally eats at the same time -- which impressed many of the players from the start -- where both managers and organizations were presented with engraved swords.
"It was more than expected," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "They were first class. They treated us with honor and dignity, and my guys did the same thing. It was a good breakfast. It was a little different breakfast than we used to get in the military a long time ago."
"First off, we all think there is a little bit of a mystique," Red Sox manager John Farrell said about the experience. "It's powerful, I think just in the perception, when you get the feel for walking around it. I think this is one thing I hope our players take from it -- they had an opportunity to see behind the scenes a little bit from the Naval Academy."
After breakfast, members of the Red Sox and Nats were given a tour together. They got to see what it's like inside one of the ships, view the controls and press whatever buttons they liked. They also got to sit in a tank and feel how heavy the doors were.
And then there was the game, played in front of a crowd of 1,030 at Max Bishop Stadium made up almost entirely of midshipmen, giving the game a bit of a different setting.
"It was quiet," Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said with a laugh. "It was almost like everyone was too polite, they didn't want to yell or talk, I don't know. The first couple innings was really quiet. I don't know if I've ever really played in an environment like that. But it was cool to see all those guys that probably don't get a chance to do stuff like that much."
Nats shortstop Trea Turner added: "They don't have a lot of free time, so any time that they can get away is very enjoyable for them, and for them to come watch us play and get excited about it, I think that's pretty neat and pretty cool."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.