Monday, September 22, 2008

Farewell Yankee Stadium

Yesterday, the final game ever at historic Yankee Stadium was played on the final Sunday Night Baseball telecast of the season. It was a little emotional even for me, so I can only imagine what it must have been like for a Yankee fan or player, or somebody at the stadium. I watched almost all 8 hours of the coverage, which consisted of a 2-hour special, Baseball Tonight live from the field, an hour-long pregame ceremony, the game itself, and the post-game celebration. The special highlighted many of the historic moments in the 85-year history of the stadium - Reggie's 3-homer World Series game, Don Larson's WS perfect game, Mickey's ball that nearly cleared the stadium, Lou Gehrig's farewell speech, the pine tar incident, the late 90s postseasons, and even the recent raw power display by Josh Hamilton at the Mid-summer classic. Many players were interviewed before during and after the game, the highlight of which was listening to Yogi and Whitey babble on for a couple innings about the old days. The pregame ceremony gathered together past & present players and their families at their positions, and it was awesome to see all the old players in the pinstripes. They may not be as sharp as they used to be, or as agile, but they're Yankee legends, and everyone was just honored to be in their presence - Willie Randolph even slid into second base. Appropriately, Babe Ruth's daughter & grandson threw out the first pitch.

Buck Showalter made the comment that as the stadium filled, it seemed to get quieter, almost as if people were going into a funeral to pay their final respects. It definitely had that feel at the game. After the last traditional "roll call" in the 1st inning, it just seemed eerily quiet, except for all the flash bulbs. For the last 3 outs, Jon Miller was silent as Mariano Rivera fittingly threw the final half-inning at Yankee Stadium, ending the game with a weak ground ball to first base. Most of the Yankee bench players got in for the final out, and Jose Molina will go down in history as the last man to homer at The Stadium. After the game, Derek Jeter gave an impromptu speech on the mound thanking the fans and the Yankees did a lap around the stadium, signed autographs, and stole dirt from the field.

I think Yogi Berra said it best: "I'm not going to miss this place, because it's inside of me, it's a part of me that I carry with me." Hopefully starting in 2009, there will be another 85+ years of tradition and memories that the players can carry with them from the new stadium. I feel honored and humbled that I got to watch a game at this cathedral twice, once in the final season. Farewell, Yankee Stadium.

Brewers 85-71, -1.5 wild card (3 v. Pirates, 3 v. Cubs)
Reds 72-83 (1 v. Marlins, 3 @ Astros, 3 @ Cardinals)
Twins 84-72, -2.5 division (3 v. White Sox, 3 v. Royals)

Erik - 25
Peter - 49

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