Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Yankee Stadium Memories - Part 1 of 2

My real remembrance of the "old" Yankee Stadium can be found within a previous post, but I thought I would post a few of my favorite memories that have stuck with me for various reasons.

1992 -ish
June 8th (I think)

This is one of my earlier Yankee Stadium memories (I don't have a great memory, and this would have put me at 10 years old). My father got some Yankee tickets from work in the loge level on the first base side. The Blue Jays took a 9-0 lead in the fourth inning and I remember my dad asking me if I wanted to leave and I said yes. These were the dog days of the Yankee franchise. I'm pretty sure we took a short ride over to Yonkers to the horce-track to catch the last few races. I took some sort of solace in the loss by watching horses run in circles around a dirt track. Younger, simpler times.

October 3rd

Inaugural Wild Card game. I went with my father and a couple of his co-workers. The car broke down on the way to the Stadium and we were on the Grand Concourse (not a place you want to be breaking down). We ended up walking around 15 blocks through the South Bronx to the Stadium. I had never done that before and will never do that again. Luckily, because of the playoff atmosphere, there were a lot of people around and it was safe. Once we arrived at the game, I remember being in awe at the surroundings. This was the first time in MY LIFE that the Yankees had been in the postseason and the first playoff game in the Stadium since 1981. Suffice to say the place was rocking. When Ruben Sierra clinched the game in the 8th with a 2-run HR, I experienced my first "Stadium Rocking" experience (when the Upper Deck is literally swaying because of so many people

July 28

I was sitting in Main Reserved seats with a friend on the third base side of the Stadium. It was a classic pitcher's duel with Kevin Appier shutting down the Yankees for 8 innings and Doc Gooden pitching very well for the Yankees for 8. It went into the bottom of the 9th inning with the Yankees down 2-1. Tino led off with a walk and Daryl Strawberry followed that off with a prompt 2-run walkoff HR. The crowd went bonkers and I got a beer bath from the Loge Level for the first time. I was young enough to think it was awesome, even though I went home stinking like dry beer. Looking back, that was Straw's only walkoff HR as a Yankee. It stuck in my memory bank.

October 2

Wild Card game two against the Indians with the Yankees up 1-0 in the series. I was a sophomore in high school and I had spent the entire 1997 season going to Yankee games. Once the school year started back up (beginning of September) I continued to go to games. I would arrive right around 5 PM for batting practice, try to snag a few souvenirs and then do my homework before the actual game started. Although the stakes were higher for this game because the playoffs had begun, I did not change my routine. Unfortunately, on this day, batting practice wasn't as fun as usual. I was standing down the left field line in the box seats waiting for a ball to be hit to me like so many times before. Unfortunately, this time the ball skipped off the warning track and smacked me in the side of the head. I remember being a bit woozy, but I wasn't knocked out. I was more embarrassed because I usually CAUGHT those balls. In any case, some of the Indians players came over to see if I was alright and Kenny Lofton brought over a ball to give to me. The whole rest of that game was a blur.

April 13

I headed up to the Stadium after school to see the Yankees take on the Anaheim Angels. After emerging from the depths of the Subway, I realized that something didn't feel right. The usual buzz wasn't surrounding the stadium and people were milling around aimlessly. Then, I heard the announcement being repeated over the Stadium speakers that the game had been postponed because a concrete beam had fallen onto some seats in the loge level. This day was important for me because it was the day I realized that the Yankees needed a new Stadium. I would be lying if I said that from that day forward I didn't look at the Stadium in a different light. Every decrepit looking structure in the Stadium jumped out at me as the next that could fall. Luckily, nothing else ever fell apart and nobody was injured in the 1998 "collapse".

May 17

I have to sadly admit that I was at this game because I was in the Beanie Baby business. Those things were selling like hotcakes and I was a teenager in need of easy ways to make money. Why not go to a Yankee game, sell the giveaway and make a profit? A family friend had provided my brother and I with some great seats behind the visitors dugout. Little did we know that we were going to witness history. David Wells threw his perfect game that day and I can proudly say I was there to see it. Unfortunately, my memories from that day are not as vivid as I would like them to be. I have a feeling it is because the entire time I was thinking ahead to the next out closer to 27, instead of taking in the surroundings and savoring the moment. I do remember never feeling as nervous at a sporting event as I did that day. When the final out was made, there was pure jubilation at the Stadium like I had never seen before. Strangers were hugging, jumping up and down, crying - it was amazing. As a footnote, I ended up hanging onto the Beanie Baby from that day for nostalgic reasons and it lost all value. I think it is still buried in a box somewhere with old belongings.

Part 2 with my 1999 - current memories tomorrow

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