September 18, 2008
Rob Iracane is a lifelong Yankee fan and an occasional Stew contributor. In this piece about Yankee Stadium, he says that a lifetime of his baseball memories were created in a renovated place he now feels conflicted about. To read some other and infinitely more sentimental memories of Yankee Stadium, check out what readers of Big League Stew had to say.
Tear it down already, the dump. Have enough cliches been written about Yankee Stadium to make even the sappiest of baseball fans cringe? Yankee Stadium was not built by Babe Ruth. Yankee Stadium is not the greatest sporting arena in the history of humankind. Yankee Stadium is not a cathedral.
No, it's a colossal concrete corporate castle, and if it were really a historic cathedral, we wouldn't be talking about tearing it down for something bigger and better. Take a cue from the architectural relics of Europe and Asia: those things were built to last and some of them are still standing after thousands of years. Yankee Stadium has been around in its modern incarnation for just thirty-three years, having been gutted and renovated between 1973 and 1974.
This is what we're eulogizing now? A building whose skeleton is 85 years old but lost its charm and character 33 years ago when it got some cheap plastic surgery? It's the Joan Rivers of baseball parks. Head over to Yankee Stadium one last time this weekend and you will see something far different than the place where Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio played. Gone is the picturesque entrance facade. Gone are the monuments and flagpole from center field. Gone are the tall light stanchions dotting the roofline. Gone is the copper frieze, painted white by the CBS corporation in the 1960s. What original detail is left to save in this place besides the foundation?
And oh, that foundation! Yankee Stadium has narrow concourses, tiny and filthy bathrooms, inconveniently located concessions, and the charm of a dungeon in those horribly, horrible ramps that funnel fans in and out of games. Perhaps these conveniences were once considered fan-friendly but no billion-dollar franchise should ever treat their paying customers (and boy, do they pay) with such a building.
Worst of all —and if you've been there in the last few years you know what I'm talking about — Yankee Stadium smells worse than the city it was built in. Decades of rotting peanut shells and stale beer puddles have rendered the stench so bad, it will burn your olfactory nerves with one healthy whiff.
Still, it would be reprehensible of me to finish this retrospective without telling you how much I actually adore that concrete building in the Bronx. Heck, it's not about the glass, concrete, and stone; It's about the love of the game and the memories. I've been to hundreds of games and I've seen thousands of pitches and clapped my hands together enough times to remove all the lines from my palms. I will absolutely miss my experience seeing Real Live Baseball in that place, from my first trip to the Stadium as a lad to see Don Mattingly scoop grounders at first, to Game 1 of the 2000 World Series when the eternally hapless Mets blew a ninth inning lead, to this Sunday night when I will consume my last hot dog and box of popcorn and beer with my dad before leaving that dump I love for the last time ever.