One last lap around the Stadium

PIC-0520.jpgThey arrived early on a cloudless Sunday afternoon, lining 161st Street armed with cameras. It was a perfect opportunity: with one slight movement, you could point to a present, soon to be the past, and take a breathtaking view toward the future.

A deep fly ball from where it used to “get late early out there” in Yankee Stadium’s left field, as Yogi Berra would say, the 12-foot high blue letters spelling out the new home of the Yankees stood out against the perfect blue sky.

It was absolutely worth a look. But this was a day for nostalgia and history, two things no place is better synonymous with than Yankee Stadium. They lined in pinstriped jerseys outside Gate 4 in reverse succession, Derek Jeter’s No. 2, Babe Ruth’s No. 3, Lou Gehrig’s No. 4.

Thousands waited to take a final stroll through Monument Park and around the warning track, ringing the field and bending over to tie their shoes, in an attempt to hide a swift collecting of treasured soil.

It seemed worth the slow procession through the darkened concrete concourses, a pathway that will not exist after passing through the gates next year – when each fan purchasing a commemorative program will have a clear and unhindered view of the playing field.

On this day, the final programs were 10 dollars – pencils, as always, were free. The DiamondVision screen in right-center field focused on the bronze profile of Lou Gehrig, displaying in large blue letters, “Thank You, Fans.”

Many of the players stayed late on Saturday, enjoying the field one last time. Joe Girardi threw batting practice to his 6-year-old son, Dante, while Joba Chamberlain, Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi each showed family members around the darkened field.

The youngest Yankees were the first to arrive on Sunday, with Phil Coke and Cody Ransom standing outside the press entrance, looking up at the quotation attributed to Joe DiMaggio: “I’d like to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee.”

They would disappear down the small, narrow blue staircase, guarded by the forbearing sign: “Players and Press Only.” They followed a blue line along walls that had been stripped bare – photographs of Ruth, Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and other legends had been removed earlier in the week so, as Andy Pettitte explained, “They wouldn’t start walking off.” Pettitte, he’d admit, had his eye on bringing a Whitey Ford lithograph back to Texas.

Making one final walk around the Stadium on a game day, the fans pressed against a chain-link fence in left-center field, aiming their cameras past the waiting ambulance to catch a fleeting glimpse of the empty ballpark.

A few feet away, fans who lined five deep to meet Harlan Chamberlain, the father of the Yankees’ Joba. The souvenir tables and beer taps were busy at Stan’s Sports Bar on River Avenue, and the sound of Yankee Stadium’s organ playing a Herman’s Hermits tune spilled onto the street.

Those not grasping tickets tried mightily to scour some, calling out. One fan scrawled a cardboard sign reading, “Need one ticket.” At the will call window, rows ranged in the dozens of those crowding to pick up their ducats.

A radio broadcast of the Giants NFL game crackled on a personal radio, but no one paid much mind. Baseball was the topic of the afternoon.

29 Comments

I’m a transplanted Yankee fan living in Dodgertown, and I got to say I hate Dodgers fans, I’ll take real baseball fans in NY any day. Matt, I agree with you completely on a couple of things. First, you are absolutely spot on about Cain, with the right team he can be a perrenial 20-game winner, and is capable of winning Cy Youngs in the future, dude is only in his early 20’s and can be completely dominant. I have seen him pitch in person a couple of times in person myself, but since you live in the Bay Area, you have undoubtedly seen him pitch in person quite a few times, and obviously know more about him than anyone on else on this blog, including that pretender who says he supposedly has seen him pitch, but goes on to spew his BS about Cainn and can’t even get his facts straight about him including his stats. He is definitely worth more than Cano, but you’re right this team doesn’t have what it takes to get him. Too bad, a rotation that might have included Wang, Chamberlain, Sabathia, Cain, and Hughes could dominate.

Also have to agree with you about Lowe, another great performance from him, he just keeps getting better and better. He’s not just a NL pitcher but an AL pitcher as well where he showed he could be successful. True, his stats would be higher if he were in the AL but he is more of an AL pitcher than Pettitte whose stats are inflated and is showing that he is less of an AL pitcher than Lowe. IT would be a big mistake to keep Pettitte. It makes absolutely no sense. to keep an aging pitcher on the roster when his skills are declining. Lowe has shown he knows how to win, the fact that he has won 12+ games with a suck *** team proves that. No way is Pettitte a better option.

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“Closing Night” at Yankee Stadium was PERFECT !!! …

Yankee Stadium is still one of the most beautiful sights “ever”; and, even though there will be no more games played in this great ball park, the memories we all have will always live in our hearts and minds … And, when the 2009 season starts, many new memories will be made, just across the street, at the “new” Yankee Stadium !!! … Babe Ruth would be proud of the awesome way this final season at “His House” was celebrated, as we now look forward to the 2009 season, watching our New York Yankees play their home games in the new Yankee Stadium, “The House That George M. Steinbrenner, III Built” … Thank you, Babe Ruth … Thank You, George Steinbrenner … Thank You, to all the Yankee Players, [past and present] … Thank You, to the whole Yankees Organization … Thank You, to all the baseball and sports writers, and reporters and broadcasters, who cover the Yankees … And, Most Importantly, Thank You, to all the great Yankee fans … We are proud to be fans of the greatest team in the history of baseball, and all sports, the New York Yankees !!! – Jimmy[27NYY]

http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

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I’m sitting watching the repeat on YES of yesterdays events – I must admit I had tears in my eyes when some of the older players were announced, and some of old glories were shown. My favorite moment at the Stadium was being at the last old timers day that was attended by Joe D. I was too young to see him play, but have attended many games – first with my Dad, at the original Yankee Stadium and then with my own children at the rebuilt stadium. One of my first memories was of Yankee ballgames on sunny afternoons, and I hope it will be one of my last. I hope every Yankee fan enjoyed the day as much as I did.

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Posted a “DEREK JETER! DEREK JETER!” video on the community MLBlog: http://mlblogs.mlblogs.com. Everyone add your comments there with your MLBlog URL so we can add it to the promo packaging on mlblogs.com.

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Holy CRAP does Billy’s son look just like him or WHAT????

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Finally, having The Babe’s daughter throw out the first pitch. THAT was awesome. As close a link to history as you could possibly get.

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It was great hearing Sheppard’s voice announce the line up again.
What a great evening. i’m a little bleary-eyed this morning but it was worth it. The game was secondary but it was a good win with help from everywhere. Congratulations to Jose for writing his little piece of Yankee history. Of course everyone wanted DJ to come thru with the bases loaded but it is clear he is in pain. No one can take the beating his left hand has this season and not be hurting. But he contributed on the other side of the ball with some stellar plays. Thanks DJ. It was great seeing Bernie out there. Was it just me or could we just have let Bernie and Paul head out to CF and RF and play?? Let Brosius take his place at 3rd and Tino at 1b, Willie at 2b. That would have been cool. Start the game like that with an agreement that AP will throw a ball and the O’s leadoff wouldn’t swing. Then have them run off the field, replaced by the regulars.
Anyhow, it was a good game. I don’t think AP pitched badly at all. In fact, he was around the strike zone and didn’t get some questionable calls that he should have. 3 runs in 5 innings. He’s got one more chance to hit 15 wins. He can do it.

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Great final game and great final ceremonies. Thanks for all the memories. However, the Yankees administration did a disservice to the Yankees fans who could not be there at the stadium by allowing ESPN to broadcast the final game. Michael Kay and Ken Singleton should have had that honor. Hopefully they will be the announcers for the first game in the new stadium or will the almighty dollar win again?

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Well, It’s too bad I couldn’t even catch the last game of the stadium, but atleast I saw it on T.V.! We will have a strong off-season and come back in 09 as a complete team. Hopefully the correct decisions are made as to how to better this organization and team. A pitching staff must be put together, somehow ( we surely will have numerous chances to do that ) but I don’t want to get into that on this special day. I’m young myself, and I look at the stadium across the street and think to myself: ” It will be there where I get to create my memories. ” First things first though, let’s come back strong and bring a title back to the best team ever; Let’s bring a WS title back to New York. Enough of this ” Boston Domination” thing going on… we’ll be back on top and in a fresh *** stadium as well. HAHA!

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First thing you need to remember is neither the Red Sox or their fans have any class! The way they carry on and all, you would think they have won 6 Championships in a row or something! I guess when you have been losers for as long as they have they must feel like they have really accomplished something, after all it could be a long time before they actually win something again! You idiots have a LONG WAY TO GO to catch the Yankees record!

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Today was the last day for a game at the House that Ruth Built. Next year will be a season for the House that Jeter, Mariano, and George the Boss Built. I was there once in 1976 on a summer’s saturday afternoon when Figueroa beat the Red Sox and like I asked the late great Yankee catcher Elston Howard in a baseball banquet in 1973 at Lawrenceville, NJ, of who was a better catcher the late Thurman Munson or Carlton Fisk, and he replied and I qoute “I know they donot like each other.” As well as asking what happened to Matty Alou when he signed my Yankee Yearbook, which I put those pictures of Murcer, Munson, Stottlemyre, Nettles, and Lyle on my bedrooms wall. I have my own memories of Yankee Stadium as I saw Maury Wills of NBC walking near the concession stands. I may not of been able to be there, but saw someone I know on YES holding a sign saying Goodbye Babe like Yogi said ” When its over, its over. ” Goodbye Yankee Stadium. I will make it next season for sure at the new one, when I don’t know, but I will.

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Gave a shout out to the Yanks. Check it out, and comment.
http://theburghblues.mlblogs.com/

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Goodbye, Yankee Stadium. Thank you for everything.

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Let’s hope you are right yankees2ss, it concerns me leaving The House and all of those ghosts. Just hope they move across the street next year.

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Yankee stadiums closing both saddens me, as well as delights me as we look forward to the future. I just wish the Yankees would have start “clicking” a little bit better a little bit earlier; but I suppose the theme for this year must be “Too little, too Late”. Nevertheless this was a spectacular night in Yankee Stadium history, to close the Stadium off with a Win from Pettite, and a 9th inning by Rivera brings back memories of 96,98,99,and 2000, years never to be forgotten in my life as a Yankee fan. I have the most optimistic stance as we look towards next years team, hopefully we can open New Yankee Stadium with a World Series.

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Fantastic game, only wished this team would have played the entire year the way they played this last homestand. Only problem I had with tonite’s game is how the Hell did Angel Hernandez rate the final game behind the plate? That jerk hates the Yankees and as far as I am concerned is one of the worse umpires there is. Coach I can relate to your last post my childhood and youth were embodied with that stadium. I know one thing if I was there tonite I’d be walking out with a seat.

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Goodbye Yankee Stadium and thanks for the memories.

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What a great way to close The Stadium, with a W. Babe Ruth helped open The Stadium with a W and we sent this Cathedral off in grand fashion. Pettitte buckled down after the 3rd and finished strong. Jose Molina hits the last home run in The Cathedral of sports, funny one in my book, but glad to see the homer was hit by a guy rockin the Pinstripes.
For what it’s worth, I honestly feel next year is going to be an extremely strong one for the Yankees. It took a long time, probably a little too long, for this team to start clicking, but they’ve been playing some terrific baseball as of late (winning 8 of the last 11, including 7 of the past 8). I think they will finish the season out strong, have a VERY STRONG off-season, and come into The New Stadium with a stronger all-around lineup than they have this season (SP, RP, starters and reserves). This organization will come into 2009 with the burning desire to get that 1st World Series title for the The House that George built, which will not only serve as THE mecca for Professional Sports (not only baseball) but also as a profound tribute to the numerous greats that have worn the Pinstripes throughout the history of this organization.

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Goodbye to my youth.

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Favorite memory actually being there for me, watching The Mick take a Barney Schultz slow curve deep vs. the Cardinals in the 1964 WS to win it. Favorite memory not there, a tie, watching Roger Maris’ 61st off of Tracy Stallard on television or Aaron Boone (I swear it was The Babe) taking Tim Wakefield deep in 2003. The House That Ruth Built, what great memories. Tell me what do we call the new stadium?

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Aesthetically, ugliest. You should send your resume to ESPN.

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That’s a boy don’t pitch to those that can actually hit.

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aura rather, what was I thinking. There should be a delete/edit on these comments

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make that 5 scoreless innings, 93 pitches. Lowe is scoreless thru five too. He’s certainly finishing strongly for a good contract, I just hope that it isn’t one with the Yankees.

You can say what you want abou t Yankee stadium in terms of the history and the aurora of the place and don’t get me wrong I’ll miss it just as much as the next person, but aesthetically, it has to be one of the ugliest ballparks

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Who was it that was going on about what Cain would do against Manny and the Dodgers?

So far 4 scoreless innings for Cain, but in the 5th runners on 2nd and 3rd, intentional walk to Ramirez. Manny has walked in every plate appearance

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It’s too bad… I thought I would be able to play in this stadium one day… ofcourse, I didn’t know at the time that they were building a new one (2006). Anyway, it’s off to the New Yankee Stadium in 2009, and hopefully a new team with a new desire: the World Series.

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Well, it’s like Steinbrenner put it: ESPN is filled with Red So fans… and sh*t to go along wth that.

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is anyone watching espn? am i the only one appalled by the amount of pro-redsox b.s. they’re airing? reporters talking about how they hate the stadium and they’re glad its gone?! whats going on here? where’s the respect?

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Yankee Stadium thanks for all the memories!!!

My favorite is still Chris Chambliss homerun to win the 1976 American League Championship!!! The crowd rushed the field!!! I was nine years old and a Yankee fan forever!!!

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