Monday, September 22, 2008
Hail and Farewell, Yankee Stadium
Yes, a blog bidding farewell to Yankee Stadium will not win the "Most Original Idea For A Blog" sweepstakes this week. But since my last blog before this detailed my memorable last trip ever to Shea Stadium, there's kind of a nice synergy here.
My wife, Peri, and I were lucky enough to be invited to the last game ever at Yankee Stadium last night. (Thanks to my friend of 34 years, Keith Olbermann, for inviting us. You're a good man, KO!). It was a happy and uplifting experience, and - to my surprise - not the least bit sad.
That's because it really is all about the moments and memories. Yankee Stadium is beautiful when you're already sitting in your seat, staring out at the lush green field. If you're on your way TO the Stadium, or in its halls, walkways, and concession areas, not so much. To call it a "pit" wouldn't be inaccurate.
Also, it's been well documented elsewhere that THIS is not the Yankee Stadium of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, most recently by Tom Verducci in Sports Illustrated.
My most memorable moments occurred in the now long-dead Yankee Stadium, the one with the poles obstructing the views from the reserved seats, the one with the original steel facade lining the top of the upper deck. That's where I saw my first Yankee game in May of 1967 with my grandfather. And that's where I had MY most memorable in-person moment.
It was Memorial Day, 1968. The once-great Mickey Mantle was in his final year as a Yankee, a shadow of his former self, but still a favorite of the fans and one very enthusiastic 12-year old fan - me.
The Yankees played the Washington Senators in a doubleheader (remember those?) and for one day, Mickey was 25 again. In game one, he went 5-for-5 with two tremendous home runs into the upper deck in right field. I'd never heard a crowd roar that loud in my life. The Yankees won that game 13-4, and although they lost the second game, that's still the game that stands out in my mind as a personal favorite.
I'm told by people in the know (OK, it was KO)that when people walk into the new Yankee Stadium, they'll rediscover the OLD Yankee Stadium. KO says while the Mets went for "functional" with Citifield, the Yankees went for "iconic", and nailed it. I'll be looking forward to returning to the Yankee Stadium of my youth next season. With much cleaner bathrooms!