On Wednesday evening, Innocence Project staff and a number of recent exonerees and their guests ventured out to the Bronx for a spirited night of baseball and camaraderie at Yankees’ Stadium. Although the home team lost, there was plenty to celebrate as the ballgame marked an opportunity for exonerees to connect with one another and to enjoy—some for the first time—a night out in New York City.
Earlier in the day exonerees Timothy Bridges, Keith Harward, Lewis “Jim” Fogle, Cornelius Depree and Andre Hatchett touched down in New York from various places throughout the country. The men traveled to attend the Innocence Project’s Tenth Annual Gala: A Celebration of Freedom and Justice on Thursday. They were welcomed at Yankee Stadium by Everton Wagstaff, Shabaka Shakur and Barry Gibbs—exonerees who live in the New York area.
When the group took their seats, it was time to enjoy some baseball rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals. Buckets of fried chicken followed by french fries and bags of Crackerjacks were passed around for sharing. Wagstaff, a true believer in staying fit and healthy, even indulged in a soft-serve chocolate ice cream cone.
“That was one thing I had to have—ice cream,” he said.
Throughout the night, the men and their loved ones shared with one another details about their cases and what it feels like to be free and exonerated.
Bridges said he was excited to be at the game, but admitted that being surrounded by so many people all at once did take some getting use to; it had been more than 26 years since he had last attended a baseball game.
“I was 23 when they put me away. Now I’m 49. I lost my mom while I was in there,” Bridges said to Gibbs.
“You’re like me,” Gibbs related, putting his arm around Bridges’ shoulder. “I did, too.”
Special thanks to the Yankees for providing us with this amazing opportunity to come together.