Sunday, September 14, 2008

Yankee Stadium: OK, NOW you can tear it down

  • The House that Ruth Built will soon be dust and memories. We had to see it before that happened.

Jeff, my son, and I hopped a Metroliner in Washington, D.C., and traveled to New York City to see a game at Yankee Stadium. It was the first time to be there for both of us, and it will be the last. The stadium will be torn down at the end of the season.

Here are a few thoughts on the experience:

The day was sunny and extremely hot -- record-breaking even.

Within three weeks of this hot day, the last regular season game will be played in Yankee Stadium, and the 85-year run of this cathedral of baseball will end.

As a ballpark, today's Yankee Stadium is nothing special, although it certainly was when it was erected in 1923. Today, the fading structure is outclassed by a number of parks, the best in my experience being Camden Yards in Baltimore. The new Yankee Stadium, gleaming just a few yards from the old one, will undoubtedly measure up to modern standards. Its skyboxes are designed to rake in as much corporate cash as American companies are willing to spend. Not much has been written about how the new Yankee Stadium will benefit the individual fan. Maybe that part will be a surprise.

But while the old graystone lady is showing its age, the sacredness of its grounds to baseball history cannot be questioned. Consider:

  • the mighty blasts of the Babe;

  • the distinctive facade around the outfield;

  • the short porch in right field;

  • the silent grace of Joltin' Joe (where have you gone?);

  • the raw talent of Mickey Mantle and the raw grit of Yogi and his many teammates;

  • the Larsen perfection;

  • Billy, Reggie (REG-GIE), Thurman, Ron, Don, Derek, Alex an a host of others with whom America was on a first name basis.
Yankee Stadium holds them all and more. Millions of memories.

That's why I had to go -- to see the place where all these things happened. And what's my memory. The unseasonable heat certainly.

But then there was that first inning grand slam by Alex Rodriguez.

So long, Yankee Stadium.

1 comment:

Lisa Byerley Gary said...

Our impression was much the same. We were surprised. But all agreed that, of the classic stadiums, Fenway and Wrigley are much cooler.