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The House That Ruth Built. The Cathedral in the Bronx. A place that in a few weeks will start being disassembled and taken down. It was sold to people for the city’s profit. It’s been renovated and had seating capacity expanded (and what stadium hasn’t?). It’s seen night games and day games, double headers, playoff games, concerts, football games and even almost saw a hockey game take place inside.
I’m referring to Yankee Stadium, of course. I don’t remember exactly how young I was when I went to my first game there, but I’ll remember how old I was for my last one at the old stadium. I’ll remember the wins, the losses, the funny fan actions, the staunch opposal to the wave, Freddy Sez, the bleacher creatures, Monument Park in left field, the view of the courthouse out in right.
I won’t forget the large metallic bat outside of the stadium, either. I’ll be happy to no longer have to deal with tiny seats with little foot room (and I’m a skinny male of average height), as well as hopefully no longer having to deal with the bathrooms that got disgusting by the 5th. The limited food options will also be a thing of the past. The black eye in center that seemed to be an impressive spot to hit home runs to…that will be gone, as well.
But the memories of what happened inside the stadium will live on. And the memories of how I progressed from youth to adult, as well. I do remember being in Yankee Stadium in ’94 and having my dad explain that there would be no postseason due to the strike.
I remember being happy the first time that I got to see my first favorite player, Don Mattingly, live in action…and how I’d always scream to him to hit a home run, yet he never did. I was too young during his best power hitting days, before his back sapped the power from him. I’ll remember my first of few Red Sox-Yankees games and the ridiculous number of fights that broke out.
I can’t forget the game I went to two summers ago, when the Yankees played the Mariners. It was a warm summer night and the Yankees were down in the bottom of the 9th. J.J. Putz was in for Seattle to try and close out the game. However, it had started raining and Putz did not have great control with all of the moisture.
Then, lightning and thunder started. And with every crackle of thunder, the stadium crowd decided to amplify the noise and cheer out for the home team. It was an amazing feeling, being there live. The Yankees ended up winning that game after a lengthy rain delay in extra innings, on a Melky Cabrera walk-off home run. I remember Johnny Damon shifting over to first base in that game and Andy Phillips to second base.
I certainly will not forget the two times I got to sit in field level seats, the second of which was in what is currently referred to as the Main Box MVP and featured Chuck Knoblauch’s first visit to the Stadium since leaving the Yankees, as a member of the Royals.
I won’t lose memory of the voice of Bob Sheppard, and how foreign it was to go to a game this year and not hear his voice. I won’t forget the feeling in the stadium of calm comfort when Enter Sandman started blaring and Mariano made the jog in to close out a game. Nor can I ever forget the time I was lucky enough to go onto the field of Yankee stadium as part of some event for kids.
I remember Willie Randolph being there, current Red Sox bullpen coach Gary Tuck, who was the Yankees bullpen catcher at the time, being there as well as us seeing “The Fat Toad” Hideki Irabu come out of the dugout to do some loosening up and jogging. I remember all of us kids, before selling stadium memorabilia on eBay was big, pulling up some of the grass and putting it in our pockets, probably frustrating the ground crew. And I certainly won’t forget some of the great games I watched that took place in the stadium.
Yankee Stadium was a wonderful place to watch a game, even as antiquated as it felt at times. Even with the crazy amounts of security and the stupid God Bless America BS, I can’t imagine a place I’d rather have gone to watch a ball game. I can only hope the new stadium lives up to the standard the old one set.