Above: Yankee Stadium in the Past
They say every baseball fan worth their salt should go at least once to a game at Yankee Stadium. After last night (8/28/07), I can say that I did–perhaps just in the nick of time as construction has begun on the new Yankee Stadium next door. Not only did I go to Yankee Stadium, but I watched them play (and beat) the Boston Red Sox under a full moon that hung at dusk like a Christmas tree ornament over the hallowed ball field before disappearing behind the stands. After taking the jammed-packed subway to the Bronx (a truly uncomfortable experience that was a real trial for this germaphobe who likes his personal space), outside of Yankee Stadium is like traversing some third-world country, and people are packed into the walls of the House that Ruth Built like sardines. Never have I been to a ball park where the concourse is so narrow, the ramps so steep, the seats so precariously stacked and spaced. Yet walking into the stadium there’s a palpable sense of history and the Yankees’ ghosts, and the rush of stepping off the concourse and up into the bowels of the stadium where you get your first glimpse of the field where Babe Ruth and so many other greats have played and became legends leaves you with a feeling that I doubt can be duplicated anywhere else in the sports world. There’s an ancient, crumbling, yet fecund aura around the ball park, as I imagine it to be the modern equivalent of entering the Roman Coliseum at the height of the Empire. From the stands on this eerily perfect summer evening, the modestly rising Bronx architecture seemed to be painted onto the backdrop by someone channeling the spirit of the 1930’s.
Below: Yankee Stadium Today
Then, of course, there were the fans. There’s no rivalry in sports more bitter and storied than the one between the Yankees and Red Sox. The colorful profanity slung around the stands was wildly entertaining, and the staff and police on hand did an excellent job of stopping the mudslinging just in time before things got physical. Our government intelligence agencies could learn a thing or two from these well-trained and attentive folks who know just when to swoop in and poor water on the fire before violence ensues between warring factions. With the Yankees leading going into the top of the 8th, hard-throwing rookie sensation Joba Chamberlain took the mound, and the escalating fervor the ensued was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. New York loves this guy, cheering every strike thrown as if it was Game Seven of the World Series and the opponent was down to the final out. Joba the Hut set things up perfectly for Mariano Rivera who in the 9th closed things out as usual and allowed the Yankees to gain a game in the standings on the 1st place Red Sox. Thanks to Jeter’s solo home run earlier in the night, and Rivera’s save, my fantasy baseball team scored as well. All in all, a great night this baseball fan won’t soon forget.
*To date, the ball parks I have been to:
Yankee Stadium, New York
Veteran’s Stadium (sadly no longer in existence), Philadelphia
Citizen’s Bank Park, Philadelphia
Camden Yards, Baltimore
RFK Stadium (hopefully to be put out of its misery soon), Washington D.C.
Turner Field, Atlanta
*Ball parks I desperately hope to visit:
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
Fenway Park, Boston
Wrigley Field, Chicago
Written by David H. Schleicher