July 20, 2009
When it comes to paying tribute to the past, no other team comes close to the Yankees.
And as fans of local nines not quite blessed with as many World Series titles, we're usually required to roll our eyes and make a snide remark or two when we see them doing things like selling old Yankee Stadium dirt for $25 a handful or talking 'bout most valuable ghosts.
Regardless, I remain an unabashed fan of the Yankees' annual Old-Timers Day, which made its move across the street to the new place for its 63rd edition on Sunday and featured the homecoming of more than 40 old Pinstripes from Luis Arroyo to Don Zimmer. It's such a cool day of remembrance that I wish more teams could just get past the fact that the Yankees have trademarked the concept and hold Old-Timers' Days of their own.
But apart from the chance to see old guys who are much too old to be wearing baseball uniforms, uh, wearing baseball uniforms, here's what I like best about the Yankees' annual tradition — everybody and everyone is invited. It's completely egalitarian.
And so it doesn't matter if your name is Yogi, Whitey, Homer or a recovering-from-encephalitis Aaron Small, everyone's invited for another round under the shower of Bronx applause. Forming a Hall of Fame battery during one of the team's best eras is treated no differently than scoring one run during the '98 playoffs (Homer Bush) or going 10-0 during a 2005 season that ended in an ALDS loss to the Angels (Small). I still think that's pretty cool, even if others don't. (If the Cubs held an annual day where guys like Jerome Walton and Glenn Beckert showed up for a run around the bases, I'd be there every year.)
At any rate, I was going to finish up this post with a look at the combined career salaries of Sunday's vets versus the current team, but the presence of new retiree Mike Mussina and his $144 million and the lack of reliable MLB salary history poured cold water all over the idea.
Instead, Red Sox fans preparing to put this post on blast can enjoy this picture of the Yankee they best know as BFD. Let those guns blaze away, Bostonians!