People generally say that things happen for a reason. Getting to do things I don’t normally get to is a great reason to go on a trip, only that’s not normally the case. However opportunities kept presenting themselves throughout the weekend. One of them was the chance to venture into what some would call one of the great cathedrals of America’s pastime on more time before it is replaced. I called it my home away from home for most of my high school years on summer weekends.
I am one of the people that would tell you that growing up in the Bronx and not being a Yankees fan might be considered sacrilegious. I grew up as diehard a fan as you could get, watching the games on TV, mimicking Don Mattingly’s stance, enjoying getting the chance to hear the current voice of the New York Yankees, John Sterling, on AM radio.
The main reason for this trip was to visit my grandmother, whom I had not seen in more than two years. She was the one that had me watching baseball and who is responsible for me admitting that I’m a Bronx native with pride whenever I wear the blue NY anywhere in the world. It just made sense to do something I had not been able to do since going to college: watch the Yanks and the Red Sox duke it out on the Sunday night game of the week. The last time I’d gone to the stadium, I got to watch the second half of a day/night doubleheader when the Clemens/Piazza event occurred… six years ago… so I was due for a visit. Especially since I’m not sure when I’ll be up again during baseball season before my hometown heroes inhabit a new home, albeit just across the street from the old one (and a replica no less).
The game was sold out (as you can somewhat tell from this photo, so a quick shout out to Stubhub.com. New Yorkers already swear by it, and I have a feeling that many more people in the South are beginning to as well. After finding the ticket office and dropping off my mom, I ended up driving to the stadium. Not part of my normal routine, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and it had already started. I ended up being one of the luckiest people in the Empire; a parking spot within 3 blocks of the Stadium, alongside the site where the new one is going up. Thisimage shows you just how impressive it was; it’s the traffic still looking for parking as I approached the stadium.
The ballpark was the first three tiered stadium ever built when it was completed in 1923. It has undergone several renovations, including its most recent in 1976, which led to the building’s current configuration. It’s the last of the original three cathedrals to come down, albeit not entirely. Hundreds of kids will still be able to say that they played on the same field as Babe Ruth, Elston Howard and Mickey Mantle; the original field will be reduced to one level according to current plans. It has also met with some opposition from area residents, saying that they are losing some of their passive recreational space. It has also led to several other things being altered, including Metro North commuter train service being added to the area, a renovation of the Bronx Terminal Market, which will probably lead to more of a South Street Seaport approach (not a big fan of that one) and a new magnet high school to add to the dozens of others currently available to area high school students. But I digress…
I got to my seats at the beginning of the third inning. And I enjoyed myself. Both teams played like it was Game 7 of the World Series. I’d never quite gotten a chance to experience the ballpark that way. I cheered for them in a half empty ballpark, with Don Mattingly, Jimmy Key, Pasqual Perez, Jesse Barfield, Mel Hall (with his really weird stance) and Steve Sax on the field.
Yankee Stadium (panoramic view) literally rocks for two (well, maybe three) things: World Series games, and games against the Red Sox and the Mets. The atmosphere is pretty unique. If that was the last time I got to walk into the old ballpark at the corner of 161st and River, even with the loss, it was a win.
At least I got to see the grounds crew do the YMCA.
Enjoy the day.