Tonight, around 8 o’clock, Yankee Stadium will host its final game. And, like everyone else on the internet, I’m going to share my memories of the old place. First, some background information: I was born in 1981 and left New Jersey in the summer of 1992. As any Yankee fan knows, the 1980′s and early 90′s were a pretty awful time for this franchise. I probably attended 20 or 30 games over the years, and while I did get to see some great players (Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Dave Righetti) more often than not I saw some pretty awful baseball. Of the 30 games I probably attended, it certainly feels like Chuck Cary started 29 of them. The late 80′s Yankees were a mix of overpriced, aging veterans and prospects who flamed out (its worth noting, all of the good prospects were traded for said aging veterans). But it was always fun to go to the games – especially day games, which meant I got to skip a day of school. One time, we got stuck in traffic outside the stadium and I got to miss a dreaded swim lesson. I might not have the memories that you’ll read about often – World Series victories, perfect games, dramatic wins – but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some good memories. Here are two I’m particularly fond of:
1) Sometime in the late 80′s or early 90′s, the A’s came to town. On this particular day, the crowd decided to turn its’ hatred toward Jose Canseco (a logical target if there ever was one). Not content with verbal harrassment, someone decided to throw a blow-up doll at Jose. In retrospect, this brings up a lot of questions; foremost, how did someone sneak a giant sex toy into Yankee Stadium? But at the time, I didn’t ask questions. I was just glad I witnessed such an event.
2) I really don’t have a clue when this game was, but I was pretty young so I’m guessing mid 80′s at the latest. Anyway, my family and I had just taken our seats in the middle of the row when everyone to the right stood up. Some guy was trying to carry about 6 beers on one of those paper trays. For a while I thought he would pull it off – get to his seat without spilling any beer. Alas, it was not to be. When he was right next to me, he slipped and spilled probably about 70% of the beer on a kid in the seat in front of me. This kid was probably about ten or eleven years old. Did the guy apologize? Did he offer the kid some napkins to dry off with? In a word, no. The kid turned around and the guy did that “I’m-pretending-I’m-going-to-hit-you” thing, where you sort of step towards someone and raise your arms a little. In this man’s mind, this was the logical reaction to spilling beer all over someone.
Anyway, after tonight stuff like that won’t happen anymore. Admittedly, the new stadium, located across the street, is nice. It’s an exact replica of how the stadium looked back in the 20′s, and it promises to offer all of the good stuff found at modern stadiums. But it won’t be the same. Another piece of history will be demolished, clearing the way for a more “fan friendly” experience. Can you imagine Italians tearing down the Colosseum to build something more modern? It’s kind of ridiculous. But here we are, tearing down a historical site so some idiot can get his Dippin’ Dots 2 minutes quicker. A few years ago, I took a trip and saw Fenway Park for the first time. It’s old. The seats can’t really be comfortable if you are taller than 5’6″ and weigh more than 150 pounds. But it had history. Ted Williams and Babe Ruth played there. I guess I’m in the minority, but that’s interesting to me. The new Yankee Stadium, nice as it may be, feels like another attempt to turn New York City into Disney World. We already have one Disney World, and for the most part, its pretty fucking stupid.