September 19, 2008
Earlier this week, I asked you, the reader, to submit your favorite memories of Yankee Stadium. You responded with some great stories and as the great cathedral plays host to baseball for one final weekend, I've posted a few responses below the jump for your enjoyment.
If you'd like to share your Yankee Stadium memory, post it in the comments below or email it to 'Duk at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in a possible followup post. I'd also like to do this same thing next week for Shea Stadium, so if you're a Mets fan who's upset your park isn't getting the same type of teary-eyed eulogies, here's your chance.
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Laine Fast, formerly of New York City: "2003, ALCS Game 7. Yes, it's an obvious pick. I was at the game with my friend Chris. We had seats in the second-to-last row of Section 33 — not really the best viewing location. We were walking up the tier steps to our seats and we started chatting with three guys in Red Sox caps who we had seen on the escalator when we came in. They had better seats than we did (as did almost everyone else at the Stadium). We were giving them **** for having better seats and being Red Sox fans. When went to get a couple of beers in the sixth, the Yanks were down 4-1 and the Boston guys were sarcastically apologetic for beating us in our home. Chris and I were just depressed. We told them that they should be buying us the beers.
"Jason Giambi hits that home run in the seventh to give us some hope, but David Ortiz hit one in the top of the eighth to deflate us again. But then the bottom of the 8th ... what a glorious inning.
"Hit after hit ... Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui ... and Jorge Posada's bloop behind second base. The Stadium was going nuts. It was deafening and fantastic. It waa zeros on the board for a few innings after than and we all got nervous. But in the bottom of the 11th, Aaron Boone, our partial-season, light-hitting, light-fielding third basement comes up to bat. The rest is history.
"We started screaming and the Stadium was actually shaking. As we were exiting, we saw those
three guys again. We told them that that's how we do it in our house ... a great moment."
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Mike Kletter:" My dad used to take me to every bat, ball, and hat day when I was a kid, starting from about 1965 — that's how I got my gear. I distinctly remember the sound the old seats (before remodeling) would make when fans would stand up so as to bang them down during a rally, or when everyone would smack their bats on the concrete on Bat Day. The place would reverberate!
"At one Yankee-Red Sox perhaps 30 years ago, there was a small section of Sox fans that were particulary obnoxious, and one was waving a large Sox banner around. A burly, inebriated fan finally decided he had enough, and walked over to the section, grabbed the banner, TORCHED it with a lighter, and waved it around. The place went nuts, including the cops. You didn't hear a peep out of that section the rest of the day."
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Allyson Slutak, originally from New Rochelle, New York: "I have been a Yankees fan all my life. I have two special memories from my childhood. When I turned 16, my birthday was in the middle of the week and my parents asked me what I wanted to do and my first response was to go to a Yankees game. My dad got tickets behind the Yankees dugout. This was especially a treat, as we always sat in the "nose bleed seats" in the upper tier. It was an awesome game, I don't remember who won, but I remember seeing Don Mattingly in the on deck circle and being thrilled.
"The second memory was when I was around 12 or 13. My dad was took me and my younger sister to a game. As usual, we were buying tickets at the gate. My dad told us to wait in line and he was going to see if there was a shorter line. He came back a few minutes later to get us. He was with this other guy. We walked into a private entrance, up an elevator, and to the luxury boxes. We were in the luxury box to the right of the net behind home plate. It was a rare treat to see the game from that vantage point. It is one that I will never forget.
"I am a New Yorker who has relocated to the West Coast — BUT I am still a New Yorker and a Yankees fan. I go to see at least one game when they come to the Bay Area and I am a DirecTV customer and subscribe to the MLB package to catch my Yankees, whenever possible. You can take the girl out of NY, but you can't take the NY out of the girl.
"I am sad to see the stadium close — there is a feeling that you get when you walk up the ramp and catch the first glimpse of the field. It's a feeling that you don't get any where else. I made a 48-hour trip home this summer to see my last game in the stadium. It was Old Timer's Day. What a special game it was and to see that many players who came back to honor a special place in history. I was tired, jet lagged, and exhausted when I got back to the west coast, but it was worth it to see a special game in a special place for the last time."
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Bob Jernee, Appalachin, New York: "I would say that my two greatest memories of Yankee Stadium involved the 'Mick' and a memory that should have been, but never was. My first ever game at "The Original Yankee Stadium" occured on August 12, 1964. Although I was only 8 years old and growing up in Philadelphia at the time my father was originally from New Brunswick, NJ and a huge Yankee fan. We always, until his passing in 1980, went back and forth between the Yankees and the Phillies and he could never understand why his only son could possibly root for a franchise as pathethic as the Philadelphia Phillies.
"However on that day in 1964 it was all about taking his son to the 'House that Ruth' built for the very first time. As it turned out it was better than just my first game moment, it was the day I actually witnessed my boyhood hero Mickey Mantle hit not one but two home runs! One from left and the other from the right! Needless to say I was one lucky and very happy kid.
"But as much as I loved the Mick I stayed true to the Phils and looked forward to what I truly believed would be my return to Yankee Stadium for the 1964 World Series. To this day I still have the two tickets my father bought for game two at Connie Mack Stadium. 'Win this game as he waved both game tickets and we'll get two more, somewhere, somehow, to the big ballpark in the Bronx,' he said.
"But as we all know, the Phillies collapsed that year in historic fashion and my return to the "Big Ballpark in the Bronx" turned out to be the memory that never was...."
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Jim Dunne, California: "I actually played sandlot ball across the street where they built the new Yankee Stadium. As a young boy, I often went to the day games, which were quite frequent in the 50s and 60s with my grandfather who worked for the Biltmore Hotel. He would get the box seats reserved for the hotel and we would sit maybe 10 rows behind the dugout. The funny thing was that as a young kid he would sometimes leave me there as he went to work, give me a token and a dime, and I would make home on my own. Obviously things were a lot safer then. I often saw Mrs. Ruth and Mrs. Gehrig who sat right across from us in one of the many Yankee boxes. I actually saw Joe D. although I was not very aware who he was except my grandfather would talk of his greatness, I saw Satchel Paige pitch for the St. Louis Browns. I was a big Mickey Mantle fan and had the privilege of seeing him play a hundred times. I was there the day he almost hit it entirely out of the park. It hit the facade in right field. I once saw him hit a high pop-up, smash his bat to the ground in digust, only to eventually see it go out for a home run.
"My grandfather retired and we
didn't get the great seats anymore but that didn't stop me from going
to the Yankee games. As sandlotters we could go to the local precinct
and get a bleacher seat for free ($.50 seats). Every once in a while we
would get better seats, but not too often. There were not too many bad
seats as far as we kids were concerned and the pricing was really great
when you think about it. 1950s and 60s Bleachers $.50, Grandstands,
1.25, Reserve Seats $2.30 and Boxes were $3.50. Around World Series
time, it was a lot different. There were no give-aways.
"I remember that when you went on the field after the games, which was allowed then, it always seemed like it was a different kind of earth. It was thick and perfect. It just felt kind of magical or somehow different. There was no Monument Park in those days and the playing field was much bigger. Inside the park homers were not an oddity. The three main monuments of Ruth, Gehrig and I believe Ruppert were in straight away center field and were actually in play and there were some plagues hanging on the center field wall. When Jimmy Piersall would play in the Stadium he would always get under Casey Stengal's skin and irritate him any way he could. He would sometimes hide behind the monuments just to annoy Casey.
"As I grew older I also went to New York Football Giant Games in the stadium. I even had season tickets a couple of years and would go and watch the Fran Tarkington Giants, who weren't too good and freeze my butt off, drink too much beer and maybe even go to a New York Ranger game that night. I was a glutton for punishment in those days.
"I moved to California in the 70s but I have been back to the Stadium a few times. I know I will always have these great memories and if I am ever fortunate enough to get to visit the new stadium I'm sure it will just rekindle a my great memories of 'YANKEE STADIUM.'"
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Tim Stoops, San Diego: "I made my first and only trip to Yankee Stadium almost exactly one month ago, for a Saturday day game against the Kansas City Royals. Knowing it would be my only trip, I'd hoped I would get the true Yankee Stadium experience that I'd heard so much about. Early in the game, fans in front of me flipped off the Yankees after they left the bases loaded. Awesome.
"Figuring no one would get too confrontational over a last place team, I wore my hometown San Diego Padres Tony Gwynn jersey. I only got one comment during the entire game: "PADRES!?! What are you lost?!??" Perfect.
"Completing my Yankee Stadium triple crown, late in the game two fans loudly began cursing and chewing out the well-dressed man sitting in front of them. An officer and an usher came up to settle things down, and it turns out the man had complained to the two behind him that he was tired and couldn't take them being so loud, asking them to quiet down. Talk about adding gas to an open flame! That was good for 10 minutes of entertainment. My Yankee Stadium experience was complete. Seeing the home team win was icing on the cake."
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Art Boucher, South Lyon, Michigan: "My closest physical encounter with Yankee Stadium, came on October 8, 1956, when my family drove by the stadium on the way home to Florida from a vacation in Maine. It so happens that was the day Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series history against the Brooklyn Dodgers. "
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John Warren, California: "My memories of Yankee Stadium will always be connected to my family. One of the sure signs of summer would be my dad mowing the lawn on a Saturday, but coming inside in time to watch the Yankees on TV with my mom and I. The days of Mantle, Ford, Richardson. But the stadium ... it seemed to loom larger than life, larger than the heroes that rounded the bases. The sound of the crowd, deafening, even through the tinny TV speaker of our old Zenith on Channel 11, WPIX NY. The Yankees were the summer to me.
"Finally, when I was about 10, my Dad got tickets, and I finally got to go. We had wonderful seats on the Mezzanine just to the right of home plate. It seemed bigger than life to a little man, pounding his Little League mitt in his hand, and trying to learn how to properly keep score. Not only did I get to experience the sounds and smells of the stadium, and more crackerjacks and hot dogs than any human should consume, but the sound ... the sounds of the crowd chanting, cheering, and screaming in excitement. That day, not only did I see my heroes play, but I met a legend who autographed my scorecard as he walked from the TV to the radio side of the announcing booth...The Scooter, Phil Rizzuto. Holy Cow. I went to many games over the years, but that was my most memorable. I couldn't tell you who won or lost, but I can remember every detail about the Stadium that day, right down to the color of the subway cars that appeared over the right field bleachers. We saw many games together there as a family, in good seasons and bad.
"My other most memorable game at the stadium was the chance to see the World Series, one cold October night in 1981. My father had gotten tickets, and suggested I take my new girlfriend at the time. I asked if he was sure he did not want to come instead, and he said no ...he wasn't feeling that well. My lady and I went, huddled in the upper deck down the first base line. Keeping warm under a blanket, drinking hot apple cider (spiked with smuggled rum) watching Mr. October, Reggie Jackson. Within an hour though, the Stadium seemed to generate a heat of it's own (no, I'm sure it wasn't the rum) and everyone was in shirtsleeves and pinstripes cheering the Bombers on. Rocking the house that Ruth built with ever hit. I thought of my dad, and wished he were there to share that evening with me. He died a month later.
Now, it's many years on. I live in California. My mother, widowed, lives in Arizona. Well into her 70's, she has sattelite TV solely for the purpose of watching the Yankees play. And when I go visit her, we watch the games together. Smiling. Cheering. Remembering. The story of the Yankees, and the glory that is and always will be that amazing stadium. And on the table between my mother and I, there is a picture of my father who has passed. And we all watch the first pitch from that historic mound. As a family."
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George Hromnak, Homosassa, FL: "During World War II, a fellow named Pete was boarding at my grandmother's house while working at the Elco Boat Works in Bayonne, NJ which was making PT Boats for the Navy. Pete was from Nanticoke,PA and told of how he grew up with a friend named Pete Gray. Pete Gray had lost an arm as a boy but was a pretty good baseball player. Boarder Pete was called up by the Army and left in 1944, but sure enough Pete Gray made it to the St Louis Browns and they were scheduled to play the Yankees at the Stadium.
"My father and his friend got tickets for the game and I was to go with them. It was an awesome experience for a 12-year-old to walk into the Stadium for the first time. Pete Gray did play that day and got a couple of hits to my recollection. I've told many people of my first Yankee Stadium experience and am sure that the Yankees will provide future Yankee fans similar ones when the new one opens next year."