Posts Tagged ‘New York Yankees’

Fuhgeddabout Yankee Stadium? Never

September 17, 2008

Dan Pasqua got me invited onto the field at Yankee Stadium.

Oh, the reserve Yankees outfielder/failed phenom of the Eighties had no idea who I was, a low-rent journalist in New Jersey whose buddy at our tiny newspaper had a big idea. We’d talk our way into press passes to the stadium on the notion that we’d be covering Pasqua, the local boy made good. Naturally, I was skeptical about the freaking Yankees letting two nobodies like us on the field for a game.

Never mind getting a press pass for the entire season.

Swear to god. The one hitch was that we could come only when Western Division opponents were visiting — White Sox, Twins, Brewers, Angels … you know, lousy teams (in those dark days) that no New Yorker in his right mind wanted to see live or read about in the papers.

You have to remember that this was not the Derek Jeter dynasty we’re talking about. Don Mattingly’s back was already sore. Omar Moreno was the center fielder, for heaven’s sake.

Still, there we were, a couple of phony-baloneys. Me with my camera, Dave Dorfman — starstruck literally beyond words — with his notebook and pen, beside the batting cage as Kent Hrbek stood next to us and Gary Gaetti called his home run shots during Minnesota Twins batting practice. Now, I grew up in Cranston, R.I., Red Sox country. But standing on that storied turf, watching Gaetti mash baseballs up, up, up toward that white facade … only to see them sink, sink, sink and just barely clear the centerfield fences. Wow. What an enormous, magical place Yankee Stadium was.

If Dan Pasqua had made it as a pro, I might even be a Yankees fan today. (Thanks … and sorry, bud.) Mary IS a Yankees fan, baptized by fireworks and Yankee Franks when I took her to her first ever Major League game at The House That Ruth Built. My bad.

Anyway, soon we’ll put a fork in the old place. The 2008 Yanks have stunk out the joint for the last time. And the facade will soon fall. They all do. Ask a Roman.

Can’t find one? Hmmm.

But the memories of Yankee Stadium will stay with pretty much anyone who’s been in the place. The guy who climbed the foul pole to the upper deck, where about a thousand security officers — the dreaded “yellow jackets” — were waiting. Streakers. Assaults (mostly verbal, thank goodness). Chambliss. F-ing Lou Piniella. Mr. May, Mr. October and Mr. Torre. Rags, Pags and Ricky. The Bronx Cheer. Donnie Baseball. “Who’s Your Daddy?” Pine tar. Yes, fireworks and franks, including Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” Ah You Kiddin’ Me?

Red Sox fans will no doubt cheer as the wrecking ball throws high-and-hard ones at the site of so much heartbreak and — 2004 notwithstanding — precious little onfield joy. But you have to hand it to the old ballyard. Like its hated, or loved, pinstriped occupants, it certainly knew how to get under your skin.

A bit like Fenway Park, whose days, like ours, fellow Romans, are also incontrovertably numbered.