Last night, the New York Yankees (barring a miracle playoff berth) closed the doors and turned off the lights to the House that Ruth Built.
I almost couldn't watch the coverage last night because, as a life long Yankee fan, it saddened me deeply that I wasn't there last night and that I also couldn't swing getting to at least one Yankee home game this year to bid the venue at 161st Street and River Avenue a farewell, as well as bring my two children to a place that was such a part of my youth.
The first game I attended in 1977 Thurman Munson blasted two home runs. I remember the most amazing home run (wicked line drive into Monument Park) and most amazing throw (385-foot sign in right-center to home, no cut-off) I've ever seen, both courtesy of Dave Winfield. I remember the shock of a sellout crowd at seeing the best player I ever saw - Don Mattingly - drop an infield pop-up.
I remember all those Old Timers' Days watching and cheering at the top of my lungs when Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio came out of the dugout to tip their caps. I remember the Sunday double-headers, and the mid-week Twi-Nights. I remember a game where I said matter of factly to my mother, grandmother, and the other regulars in our section: "Here's what's going to happen: they're going to intentionally walk Winfield to load the bases, bring in a right handed pitcher to face Jack Clark, Jose Cruz will pinch hit and he'll hit a grand slam home run." - and that's exactly what transpired!
Today, I remember being just a kid again, watching my baseball heroes - all of them: Donnie Baseball, Dave Winfield, Ron Guidry, Dave Righetti, Willie Randolph, Bobby Murcer, Graig Nettles, Mike Pagliarulo, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Tommy John, etc., etc., etc. - win over and over and over...the losses I forget, nor do they matter.
I remember dreaming that one day I'd be playing second base on that wonderful field, my lack of hitting ability nonwithstanding.
It's time. Yankee Stadium's day has passed and it's up to Derek, Alex, Mariano, and the rest to build a new tradition at the Bronx Bombers' new home right next door. The monuments to Yankee greats will be moved with the team, but Yankee Stadium will always be a monument in my heart to my love of baseball.
Thanks for the memories. Wish I was twelve again with not a care in the world, nor a want more than to go to another Yankee home game at this storied place.