Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Yankee Stadium Memories - Part 2 of 2

October 26th

My brother and I arrived early for game 3 of the World Series. We camped out in our usual batting practice spot down the left field line. On this day, Derek Jeter came out and signed autographs. Being a high school infielder, Derek Jeter had fast become my idol. Nick and I were able to get our World Series ticket stubs signed by Derek. Sadly, I'm not sure where that ticket stub is today, but the memory of getting Jeter's autograph before a World Series game will forever be with me. I can't remember the game at all, but the Yankees won both of those

October 23rd

This wasn't a game at the Stadium, but it was the overnight stay that my girlfriend Heather and I spent outside of the Stadium camping out for 2001 World Series tickets. We didn't sleep much that night, but we were determined to get tickets and toughed it out. Growing up in downtown Manhattan, I never imagined sleeping outside on the streets of the South Bronx. Luckily, there were hundreds of other Yankee fans to keep us company. We managed to purchase tickets to game 4 and game 5 of the 2001 World Series and the rest was history.

October 31st and November 1st

Simply put, two of the most memorable games in Yankee Stadium history. We all know the story by now - no need to rehash. What sticks with me most is how hopeless things seemed both nights and how much more magical it made the game tying and walk-off hits. The world seemed bleak at the time, fresh off of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Witnessing game 4 with my girlfriend, my brother and my father and experiencing the magic of Tino and Jeter's HRs revitalized the city of New York and will vividly remain in my memory forever. The goosebumps that singing God Bless America along with Ronan Tynan and 56,000 other people provided will never be forgotten . Scott Brosius' heroics the next night were icing on the cake, and sealed those two nights as my favorite Yankee Stadium memories.

October 19th

I can't make this list without mentioning my worst Yankee Stadium memory of all-time - the "bloody sock" game. The weather was the worst I ever remember experiencing at Yankee stadium. The upper 40's and light rain/mist. Curt Schilling had ketchup blood all over his sock and the Yankees decided to just go about their business as if he was completely healthy. Bunting and putting some pressure on him never crossed their minds. When the famous A-Rod slap play happened, I thought that I was experiencing another bout of Yankee Stadium "mystique and aura". Then, he was called out and all hope was lost. I had no doubt in my mind that the Yankees were going to lose the next night.

April 26th

A-Rod's 3 homerun game off of Bartolo Colon. This was the night that I realized how prolific of a homerun hitter I had the prividledge of rooting for each day. Each homerun was more impressive than the next and I left the Stadium in awe at A-Rod's greatness. That was probably the night that made me as huge of an A-Rod supporter as I am today.

June 21st

Things were looking down for the Yankees. They were sitting in third place, it was mid-June and Randy Johnson was getting bombed by the lowly Devil Rays. The Yankees went down 10-2 in the 4th inning and my brother and I started to commiserate about the state of the Yankees. In our minds, the run of consecutive playoff appearances were all but over and the Yankees were cooked. We started thinking about how Mariano Rivera wasn't getting any younger and they were wasting some of his last great years. We didn't leave the game. Instead, we decided we were going to endure the misery and really let the mediocrity soak in. Looking back, I am very glad we made that decision. Our gripes about the Yankees wasting Mariano's greatness looked silly when the Yankees came roaring back and ended up winning 20-11. This night will always stick with me because we all but gave up on the season IN JUNE and the Yankees made us feel silly about that right away.

May 16th

As Yogi would say, it was "deja vu all over again". The Yankees fell behind 10-1 in the third inning behind a horrid performance by the suddenly crappy Shawn Chacon. Nick and I were at the game together (as usual) and we reprised our 2005 Mariano Rivera conversation. It was almost amusing as it was an eerily similar situation. This time, we drowned our sorrows in $7 beers and decided to stay for the balance of the game. Once again, we were rewarded for our loyalty. The Yankees came storming back and ended up winning the game on a Jorge Posada walk-off homerun. We had made our way down to the left field corner toward the end of the game to ensure a speedy exit from the Stadium. As many Yankee fans know, Japanese fans often purchase tickets down the left field line to get as close to Hideki Matsui as possible. In 2006, Matsui was out for the season with a wrist injury, but the Japanese fans were still showing up. A memory that will forever be burned into my brain is jumping up and down in jubilation after Jorge's walkoff that night and looking for Nick. Much to my surprise, he was embraced in a bear hug with one of the afforementioned Japanese fans down the left field line. It was hilarious and enlightening at the same time. I finally realized the impact that the Yankees had across cultures. Fans of Hideki Matsui had realized the magnitude of the franchise he now played for and had become true fans.

April 19th

The Yankees were off to their annual sluggish start and entered the bottom of the 9th inning down by four runs. After two quick outs, the game was all but over. Suddenly, the cold, grey April day become sunny and the immortal Josh Phelps hit what looked to be a meaningless homerun. The Yankees rallied and set up a memorable walk-off homerun by A-Rod. It was already his second walk-off homerun in the month of April. Being a huge A-Rod supporter, this was finally some vindication. After a few years of fan abuse, the clutch hits had finally arrived.

August 3rd

Nick and I were convinced that we were going to catch A-Rod's 500th homerun. We had plans to simply trade the ball for meeting A-Rod and potentially getting a few future tickets to games. Our goal was to prevent a greedy person from sticking A-Rod up for a small fortune. I list August 3rd above, but we went to a few games that week. I will never forget the camera flashes with every A-Rod swing and the fracas in the left field seats every time A-Rod stepped up to the plate. Nick and I were actually positioned in the EXACT spot of A-Rod's eventual 500th homerun but a a day too early. After the fact, I was excited by the fact that A-Rod was going to hit countless more historical homeruns, many of which in Yankee Stadium.

March 12th

Taking the behind the scenes Yankee Tour on my birthday

August 15th

My final trip to the Cathedral in the Bronx

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