Friday, September 19, 2008

Yankee Stadium: An October Requiem

The world will say goodbye to the House that Ruth Built this weekend. It is a supreme irony that the place that was built for October will bid adieu in late September, as for the first time in a decade and a half, the Yankees will (likely) not see postseason action.

I have few positive memories of the place, but I must say that I took Ethan to his first major league game there, not Fenway. I was given the tickets by Yankee executive Arthur Richman, president of the team, following Mel Allen’s funeral in 1996. The funeral was one of Beth El’s most dramatic moments. I love pointing out to Yankee-supporting Bar Mitzvah students where Joe DiMaggio sat in our sanctuary, along with Steinbrenner, Berra, Ford and host of legends.

When I entered the stadium with Ethan for that day game, I was surprised at how awestruck I was at the simple beauty of the façade and the greenness of the field. Richman told me, “We’re going to win you over.” That didn’t quite happen regarding the team, but the stadium definitely did. And I must add that the team acted with great affection toward Mel’s family throughout that sad time and I was impressed by the dignified and professional way they do business.

My other main memory of Yankee Stadium is not so pleasant. I was at game seven of the 2003 ALCS, way up in right field. It was one of the most dramatic games in the history of the place and I was on the wrong end of it. When Aaron Boone hit his dramatic series-ending home run, I immediately went into survival mode. Everyone around was high fiving, so I high fived right back. The screaming did not end as everyone stood and screamed for a half hour before people finally started to make for the exits. The cheering lasted forever – or more accurately, almost exactly one year.

I picked the wrong Game 7 to attend. 2004’s was one that I savored, and still savor. It has a permanent place on my TiVo.

Last week’s Bar Mitzvah boy wanted me to talk about that Red Sox – Yankees rivalry. Since this young man, a huge Yankee fan, has never seen the Yanks fail to make the playoffs, I took the opportunity to perform a public service. I suggested some things that Yankee fans might do with all their extra time this October. It occurred to me that it would be only appropriate for a Red Sox fan to make these suggestions, since we’ve had so many empty Octobers (though not recently). I also thought that it would be nice to come up with 26 such suggestions, one for each Yankee championship banner, so I am calling upon the rest of you to help me complete the list.

There are obvious ones like “watch the Red Sox and Mets,” but that’s too easy. I’m looking for something more creative, like “Work off those Reggie Bars” or “Hit fungo grouders to Chuck Knobloch” or “Add monster seats to the Wall in Bucky Dent’s backyard.”

Please send me your suggestions at and I’ll share them next week – that is, unless the Sox collapse….

Yankee Stadium, thanks for the memories!

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