US Navy denies Boston Red Sox minor league pitcher’s request to defer military service to play baseball

A Boston Red Sox minor league pitcher’s hopes of playing professional baseball will have to be put on hold, for now.

Noah Song, who the Red Sox drafted out of Navy in the fourth round of the 2019 MLB Draft, applied for a waiver that would have applied to the new presidential policy allowing pro athletes to defer their five-year service commitment and play sports right after graduation. However, Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, denied Song’s request.

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“Unfortunately, my request was negatively endorsed by the Naval Academy due to the fact this new policy did not apply to me,” Song told the Capital Gazette on Monday. “The Naval Academy did not provide a positive recommendation to the CNO and therefore the request was denied. So that’s the end of that route.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed an order on Nov. 8 that would delay graduates’ commissioning as officers next year. Song graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in May and is set to report to flight school at Naval Air Station Pensacola, according to the Capital Gazette. He had just missed the deadline.

Esper’s order said that military service secretaries have the ability to nominate athletes for a waiver after it was determined there “is a strong expectation that a Military Service Academy cadet or midshipman’s future professional sports employment will provide the Department of Defense with significant favorable media exposure likely to enhance national level recruiting or public affairs missions.”

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Noah Song #37 of team USA pitchs during the WBSC Premier 12 Super Round game between USA and Chinese Taipei at the Tokyo Dome on November 15, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. 
(Getty)

According to the Military Times, Navy wide receiver Keenan Reynolds was allowed to defer his active-duty service time after he was selected in the 2016 NFL Draft. Reynolds played two games for the Seattle Seahawks in 2018 and currently finds himself on the XFL’s Seattle Dragons.

Song said he wasn’t really disappointed by the decision and was anxious to begin his training.

“I’ve dealt with enough adversity in my life that this isn’t going to completely bring me down,” he told the Capital Gazette. “The Navy definitely does not owe me anything. This [waiver request] was a Hail Mary play. I didn’t expect too much. If you don’t expect much, you don’t get disappointed. I’m excited to head down to flight school and get started on becoming a flight officer.”

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Song played in Lower-A ball in the Red Sox organization. He appeared in seven games for the New York-Penn League’s Lowell Spinners. He recorded a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in those appearances.