In October, I received a call from a good friend of mine, asking if I’d like to use an extra ticket he had to watch the annual Cortica Jug football game between Cortland State and Ithaca College. I jumped at the opportunity to take a road trip to New York City to watch Jack’s alma mater, Cortland State play in this game. The plan was to fly to NYC and meet up with two of Jack’s Cortland State classmates at Yankee Stadium for what is called, the “biggest little game in the nation.”
The game was played on November 12. The weather was a cool 74 degrees and the skies were bright, dotted with white fluffy clouds. Perfect day for a ball game. The Uber driver dropped Jack and I off at the main entrance. First thing, Yankee Stadium is impressive. It’s one of the most iconic stadiums in the world. It has been home to the Yankees since 1923, as well as the site of numerous historical events. Yankee Stadium opened in 1923, and it originally consisted of a double decked grandstand. That stadium was demolished and replaced with the current stadium which opened in 2009.
Upon entering the stadium, we were hit with the sights and aromas of baseball. And nothing screams baseball tradition more than a visit to Monument Park in center field. Monument park was created in 1994 to commemorate the history of baseball. It honors baseball's legendary players, managers, executives, umpires, and broadcasters. The park features plaques and statues that celebrate the game's history. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin – the list goes on and on. Even if you’re not a Yankee fan, you can’t be anything other than in awe by so many legends honored in one place.
But setting aside baseball for a moment, this day was about football. The game features one of the oldest football rivalries in America between Cortland State College and Ithaca College. Both schools are part of the University Athletic Association. Cortland is known as the Red Dragons and Ithaca are the Bombers. The rivalry has existed since 1930 and culminates in a highly publicized game, known at the “Cortaca Jug” (I assume it’s the melding of ‘Cort’-land and Ith-‘aca’).
The game is one huge homecoming event, where no one knows your name, but everyone shares in a common history of their days at college. Donning a Cortland State hat and t-shirt, I became an honorary alumni. All I needed to do was mention a couple of old Cortland State bars and I immediately was accepted into the club. It’s one of the things that makes college football so enduring.
On this day, both teams put their undefeated records and bragging rights on the line. Ithaca took a 7-0 lead on a 10-yard pass with 10:31 left in the first quarter, marking the first time Cortland has trailed in a game this season. Cortland tied the game later in the quarter on a 7 yard pass, and for most of the game, the teams traded TDs and Field Goals. With less than two minutes left into the fourth quarter, the score was 20-17, Ithaca. However, Ithaca dominated the remaining quarter, scoring two TDs and ending the game at 34-17.
A great day with a truly great friend in one of the most iconic places in the country. The biggest little game in the nation lived up to its name in more ways than one.