Reflections on Yankee Stadium’s final act

IMG_0844.JPGIt still hasn’t sunk in. It’s still very, very difficult to imagine that Sunday’s game was the final one we’ll ever see at Yankee Stadium. Personally, I’m still trying to sort out what I think and feel about what happened last night.

The ceremonies leading into Sunday’s game were wonderful. One thing the Yankees are able to do better than any other big league franchise, with all of their rich history, is to celebrate being the Yankees. And just like Derek Jeter said they would, the organization did it right: the introduction of actors posing as Lou Gehrig, Joe McCarthy, Red Ruffing, etc. was a bit much, but I will admit that I felt chills when they unveiled the original 1922 AL championship flag on the back in center field. Not sure why, but just seeing that weather-beaten red, white and blue flag brought all of those sepia-toned photographs to life.

Seeing the greats run – or walk – onto the field one last time was, as expected, a sight. Bernie Williams got the last and loudest ovation, but it was other moments that I’ll remember — Cora Rizzuto walking hand-in-hand with Mariano Rivera to shortstop, or marveling at how David Mantle really is the spitting image of his father. Julia Ruth-Stevens threw the first pitch and, listening to her later, she still has a sharpness to her. She was sad to see the old place go, but wishes the Yankees well in the new Stadium.

Terrific to hear Bob Sheppard back on the microphone, even if it was by digital recording. To me, it would be just fine if Sheppard wanted to pre-record the lineups of each club before games at the new Yankee Stadium. With computers, he wouldn’t even have to be there. The game itself seemed a bit anticlimactic and bittersweet. Andy Pettitte so desperately did not want to lose the final game, and Joe Girardi got him out in the nick of time so he could qualify for a decision and get a standing ovation.

Jose Molina hit the final home run in Stadium history — if you predicted that, you deserve a gold star — and Cody Ransom recorded the final out, a 3-U putout. I suppose, given more time to think about it, Ransom would have flipped the ball to Mariano Rivera, but now he gets to become the answer to a trivia question. Rivera plans to give the ball to George Steinbrenner.

What I remember about the celebration postgame was that it was controlled chaos. Jeter’s speech struck the right tones the organization wanted to project, and the lap around the outfield made it feel like October. You know the Yankees wished they could have had the real deal in the Bronx in 2008, but nights like those are what the current Stadium is known for – bunting flapping in the breeze, Ronan Tynan performing God Bless America, military marching bands on the field pre-game, big ceremonial first pitches. It was October in September.

My last moment of covering a game at Yankee Stadium will probably be one of my favorites. I was on my way out the door for the final time when someone invited me to gather some dirt as a souvenir, telling me I’d regret it if I didn’t. I’m not big on souvenirs and I don’t understand what, exactly, you do with that dirt. But I grabbed a paper cup and a plastic fork from the cafeteria – you work with what you have at the time – and borrowed a small sample, part of it from the front of the mound, part of it from the left-handed batter’s box.

The funny thing about being on the field at 3:30 a.m. is that I wasn’t alone. There were spirited games of catch going on all around, people toasting the old stadium from the back of the mound. Someone knew that I pitch a little, and to be perfectly honest, my last recollection of the Yankee Stadium mound isn’t pleasant – in the media game back in August, I walked a few guys and blew a save as we fell to Boston. But presented with the opportunity, how could I not get up there one last time? This time, wearing dress shoes and slacks, I threw strikes.

There’s a lack of finality to it all. The Yankees will be back next week to clean out their lockers, and a November event is being scheduled as the official Stadium sendoff. But while no one may remember (or care about) that 1-2 fastball over the plate except me, that’s the way I walked off the field at the Stadium, ending a very
long and very memorable day.

36 Comments

Very upset not seeing them recognize Roger Clemens after what he did for the organization but all in all very nice farewell im gunna miss Yankees Stadium….anyone know when they are gunna sell the stadium seats if so email me at amolden08@yahoo.com i cant wait to get a piece of yankees stadium

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Once again you’re making a BS comparison between Pettitte, who has been a starter his entire career, and Lowe who only became a starter in ’02 and never has made fewer than 32 starts since then. What part of that don’t you get? What part of that is difficult for you to understand? You might want to check your stats again. Before ’02 he was a reliever, and part time starter, he only started 31 games from ’97-’01, plus he has only mmissed the 200 IP mark twice in ’04, and ’07. My point was that Lowe would obviously be the better option since Pettitte is no longer an AL, and Lowe has shown he can pitch successfully in the AL. I really don’t want either of them. If anything we both have shown how identical they are to each other in terms of stats in recent years, the only difference is that Pettitte is closer to being done, bringing him back would be a mistake.

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This is the problem with us New York fans: we demand too much. I’m sure if, somehow, Girardi had a positive season– which he did not– we’d be praising him. The bottom line is: Girardi cannot manage these superstars. He won’t manage Jeter, A-Rod or any other star player we bring in, for that matter. He had the guts to get in Cano’s face, and even had a say about Melky’s demotion, but you will never see him manage a superstar’s ego.

Torre had this ability, to mesh together these to two types of status. Obviously he wasn’t as resourceful and creative as Girardi is, but with him, we won. It remains to be seen if Girardi can manage like Torre did, but this tem has far more important holes than the one we create at manager. So let’s focus on the holes at 1B, OF, and SP please.

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Joe Torre is not a great manager, neither is Girardi, there is no thing as having to manage an American League team. Torre looked good from 1996 – 2001 because he did not have to manage. When you have players like Jeter, Bernie, Tino, O’neil, Cone, Pettite, Posada, and Rivera you don’t have to manage because you have a team of professionals. When Torre had to manage ego’s like Giambi(and his mustache), Arod, and Sheffield he had no idea what to do. Girardi was great with the Marlins, but he does not have the backbone to manage the Yankees, but who does?

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Girardi was not a mistake…Torre was great for the teams he had, and the time for a change was here. He would not have done any better than Girardi did, with what he had to work with.

Yes, he should have been mentioned, but from what I have been told by people inside MLB, both Joe and Mattingly were invited, but given that they were on the west coast working for another organization, obviously they would not be able to attend.
In fact the rumor was, that a special guest was going to appear after the game, and that guest was Mattingly, but the logistics could not be worked out.

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The Yankees- A Class Act ooorrrrrr ???
Sunday was a glamorous night of baseball and the closing of a Stadium that is where most of baseballs memories were born. Most Great Yankees past and present were recognized and honored. The accomplishments of Yankee teams from the beginning of Yankee Stadium to, I would like to say present but there was a gaping hole in this celebration. Joe Torre managed this team to 12 consecutive playoff appearances and 4 world series championships yet was not even mentioned. Even the Steinbrenners should of been bigger than that. I really would of expected more from them, Don Mattingly , Mr. New York Yankee for how long? Barely a mention! I suppose they were afraid to acknowledge these guys because the crowd would likely have given both a thunderous ovation. Was this snub based on the insecurity they are feeling in the decision to hire Girardi as Manager? Hell they still won’t even admit their mistake and are letting him come back next year.

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DodgerDan,
Ok, I’ll play with stats if you want. In my previous post, I realize I had an incomplete thought regarding durability. You point to Lowe never having been on the DL in 10 years. Since 1996 (his first FULL season), Andy has made FEWER than 31 starts only twice and aside from those two season, he failed to reach 200 IP only once more when he pitched 192 in 1999 (on 31 starts). In the last 4 seasons he’s made 33,34,35,34 starts pitching over 200 innings each time. Durability? Really? I’m blind to stats? Of Lowe’s first few seasons he didn’t see a start in only 2 of them, 99 and 2000. He made 10 starts in 1998 and 3 in 2001 before becoming a starter full time in 2002.
But after all that you make my point, Lowe doesn’t need to be on this team and you can blog ’til your fingers fall off but the fact is, if Andy wants to come back and open up the new Stadium, he’ll be given the chance.

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We are all grasping here, but if we win our next 3 and the Sox lose, my butt will be on a bus up to Boston on Fri!

IF we were to make a miracle comeback, THAT would truly be the Yankee magic at its finest!

Of course best case scenario is a tie for the WC, in which case there would be a game on Monday. The hero of that game would be Brett Gardner. For no other reason than the name…Babe, Bucky, Buckner, Boone and Brett!

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Maybe Just Maybe the Babe has 1 last trick for all of us left in him!!!!!!!!!!

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I smell Cliff Lee inexplicably having a disaster tomorrow, but I’m cynical like that

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Update: Red Sox just lost. Lead cut down to five. I smell magic. Let’s DO IT!

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Well. Boston is losing in the ninth 4-3. Wouldn’t it be SOMETHING if they went on to lose two or three games and we ut that lead down to three before our last series against them? Ofcourse, that would put us in a position to win four straight. I’d start Moose, Pettitte, Aceves and then Hughes. NO WAY Ponson gets any of those starts! Why not go out with a bang?

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I am a 42 year old female Yankee fan who has been going to the stadium since I was around 6 years old. I was at the game in 76 when Chambliss hit the hr, I was at the pine tar game, I was at opening day in the snow in 96. I have been to playoff games and WS games, seen walk off home runs and heartbreaking losses. With 100% certainty, I an honestly say I have NEVER seen or felt anything remotely close to what I felt at the stadium yesterday and last night. NO ONE does it quite like the Yanks and NO other team, in any sport would get the coverage that this one is. My daughter, who is away at school and is also a fanatic, sent me a text saying “only the Yankees would find a way to bring back dead players”
It was an amazing and magical night. It was also a very sad night. Thank you to the Yankee organization for the classy way you did this, thank you for bringing back Bernie and thank you for many years of memories.

As a sign being carried in the stadium last night said…
“I was to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee fan”

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Watch out next year for Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes to have break out seasons. Look for Jeter to have a career year, look for A-Rod to vie for another MVP, and have a big “clutch” season. Look for Cabrera to have a breakout season, and look for Gardner to compete for a starting spot. look for Cano to come back with a vengeance. Look for Posada to play 120 games next season. We need to look for these things, and stay positive. We’ve spent so long this year looking for reasons why we are going to lose. Let’s try looking for reasons why we are going to win in 2009.

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Haven’t had much to say lately, but I did want to say kudos to the Yankees for sending off the Stadium in style. I literally was crying by the end of the night, mainly because I will never get to see the stadium in real life. As a West Coast Yankee fan, I have never been further east than Arkansas, and it will be a lifelong regret that I will never get to experience a game in the House That Ruth Built. I agree with Jeter, and others who say that it is Yankee fans that will carry the tradition and magic of this ball club into the new yard. Like this country as a whole, we Yankee fans never agree on anything, but at least we all are Yankee fans. Maybe the organization will make some moves in the offseason that we ALL can get behind, and maybe we can rally behind this team in 2009 and beyond, and maybe be a part of more championships in the coming years. GO YANKEES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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rcngolf,

Again you seem completely blind to the facts. Lowe has shown he is much more than a NL pitcher as he has proven by succeeding in the AL. You’re going to have to prove that he isn’t by doing more than bringing up his bloated stats. Pettitte has more than his own fair share of bloated stats. If anything Pettitte has shown that he is less off an AL pitcher than Lowe. Personally, I don’t want either pitcher on this staff, nor do I want either of them because they are old. I just weigh in to this discussion about Lowe because I have actually seen him pitch and he is obviously far from done, plus your facts are flawed. Another thing, Lowe hasn’t been on the DL in over 10 years making him far more durable than Pettitte. Again, you are making a mistake by comparing a career starter like Pettitte to a converted reliever who only became a starter 6 seasons ago, so there is no comparison there.

This team only needs tinkering? What team have you been watching this season? This roster needs to be overhauled in the offseason like people have been saying it doesn’t need to repeat the same mistakes that got them here in the first place.

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Bravo! You couldn’t have scripted the night any better nor have executed it any better either.

To me it doesn’t matter if it was Molina or Damon, a Yankee got the last homerun, and a Yankee Icon got the last out.

All good things come to an end, and this is the Stadium’s time. Now we get to see how a completely different crop of Yankees set out to make new history. Now we can answer the Babe’s musing… it is Molina, and no God didn’t know the answer!

Very glad to see Andy get the W, he’s been one of my faves since he came up.

I’m looking forward to the hot-stove season… and what we will do. So long Yankee Stadium… you’ve been a staple, an Icon and a big part of many, many lives.

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Jeez, just what this blog needed, another moronic blogger who is pretending to be a baseball fan who can’t even get his stats straight. Look “genius” before you come on this blog trying to play with the big boys at least get your facts straight. You wouldn’t know what an unsupported fact is unless you created one yourself like you have against Cain who I doubt you even seen pitch at all. So far none of your blogs haven’t said anything nor do they make sense. You must be that retareded blogger who keeps coming up with all those false IDs like bpark, keyswahili, sentinel. You sound just as moronic. Get your facts straight fool!!!

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Mate,
Coke was a starter at AA Trenton, but when promoted to AAA Scranton he was put in the bullpen because he was close to or had exceeded his limit of innings pitched. At worst he should be in the Scranton starting rotation beginning 2009. His performance in NY may earn him something better! He was 26 on July 19th.

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?n=Phil%20Coke&pos=P&sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=457435

http://mlb.mlb.com/team/player.jsp?player_id=457435

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Why someone would create an alter ego to agree with there own unsupported statements is completely beyond my belief. I was weary of such an action on previous occasion but decided perusing the matter would only lower me into inexplicable underclass. I find it only astonishing that a random blogger would coincidently drop by during a discussion only merely related to his “hometown” team. To only quote “I’m a transplanted Yankee fan living in Dodger town, and I got to say I hate Dodgers fans, I’ll take real baseball fans in NY any day” This undoubtedly is a statement of a loyal Dodger fanatic. This “Dodgerdan” that I would take my chances betting that has failed o post in his own hometown Dodger blog. I suggest you take these immature acts elsewhere. If so fond of your local organizations and its players then why bother with this ball club?

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Have The Yankees performed badly to probably miss the post season Yes.
Can it be said that losing Wang, Posada and Matsui for almost the entire season along with Rodriguez missing what was it 21 games cost the team a possible 10 games in which they were not available Yes. That combined with the non performance of Kennedy and Hughes meant that regardless the team was up against the wall from the outset. But out of something negative can produce something good. The recent rise in performance level of Gardener bodes well for 2009. This along with the effort of Alceves does give confidence to 2009.
Does anyone have any thorough knowledge of Phil Coke as far as being a potential starter as a left handed pitcher in 2009. He is what 25-26 and has put up an ERA of less than one .88 I thiink. Has he been projected as a starter and was he a starter in the minors. He has been very impressive of late.
Everyone has been hard on this team and I understand everyone wants/demands success and if it is not available well then just go and buy it which is not always the best option. I do not think the team requires major surgery ( Matsui aside ) for success in 2009 but they do need a little tinkering with at least one possibly two staring pitchers for 2009 and they should retain Abreau Damon Nady and Matsui

Aussie Bryan

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The last game at Yankee Stadium was a spectacular event that only the Yankees could have pulled off. Like many of you, it was an emotional experience for this life-long (51) Yankee fan. It will truly be a new era starting next year across the street. It’s time to establish new memories, new heroes and new championships.

I just wish that Joe Torre was able to participate by video. I was disappointed that he wasn’t mentioned (or maybe I just missed it). Otherwise, it was a perfect night.

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humbert4, he was called and ran on to the field! How could you miss him?

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DodgerDan,
From the other blog, Matt doesn’t need anyone carrying his Derek Lowe water. Again, Lowe is 36. He’s been pitching in the weakest division in baseball (so weak that WE’D be the pennant winners this year!) He’s 54-48 for a .529 record in the 4 years he’s been with the Dodgers. Proven winner? To this point in his career, Andy has NEVER had a losing season pitching all but 3 seasons in one of the toughest divisions! At the MOST Lowe would provide us no upgrade over Andy. And if we’re going to replace him, I want an UPGRADE. With Lowe we don’t get younger, we don’t get someone who has proven he can pitch in NY for the Yankees. Andy’s got a couple more seasons in the majors and owns a .629 winning percentage vs Lowe’s .541. Durability? With the exception of two seasons plus his rookie season, Andy has gone at LEAST 31 starts in 13 seasons. So again, let it go. If Andy wants to pitch next year, the Yanks will have him back. But if we’re going to have to replace him FIRST we must get another lefty arm and second it has to be someone younger, NOT Lowe.

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If Boston loses their last 7 games of the year,, and the Yankees win their last 6, they’ll go into a tiebreaker. Wouldn’t that be magical? Maybe next year guys…

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PAUL O’NEILS NAME WAS LEFT OFF THE RIGHT FIELDERS LIST OF THOSE RECOGNIZED ON THE FIELD LAST NIGHT

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I think that last night’s “FINALE” at the stadium was absolutely perfect. The pregame ceremonies and post game ceremonies brought tears to my eyes. I’m 62 years old. My Dad and Uncles were all Yankee fans, as were most of my cousins. So you can imagine family dinners always gravitated toward a conversation about the Yanks. My first date with my husband was the first “Bat Day” at the Stadium. Thank goodness my children are holding up the Yankee fan tradition. I do look forward to 2009. I only hope that most of the current team is there to enjoy, what I think will be a great year. A most sincere fan, Maureen

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Bryan,

Thanks for all your excellent work covering the Yankees this season!!! … It has been a pleasure to read all your great articles, stories, posts, and comments … Your “Bombers Beat” Yankees MLBlog is in a “class” all by itself !!! … And, thanks to all Yankes fans, who are the “greatest fans in the world” … We are all proud to be Yankee fans, as we root for 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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“Closing Night” at Yankee Stadium was PERFECT !!! … Jimmy [27NYY]

http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

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The plans have not been officially finalized for Munson’s locker but my understanding is this — it will be too difficult to extricate the locker in its entirety. I was looking at it yesterday and it’s not like it would just snap right off — you’d need to go in there with some heavy-duty machinery to pull it out. Plus, I’m not sure it would fit through the door.

The plan, as I understand it, is that certain pieces of Munson’s locker – the black hanging ’15’ tag, the bench he sat on, the storage area, the coat hooks, shelving, etc. – can be brought across the street and placed carefully into a replica of Munson’s locker to be displayed in the Yankees museum.

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jeterstar, Yes, The speech by Jeter was great, He said it was not a prepared speech, which made it better, It came from the heart.
“GO YANKEES! 2009″

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To all of those who were fortunate enough to attend the ceremonies and the final game (A winning one) I envy each and every one of you. I last visited YANKEE STADIUM in the late 40s, with a memory of some of the great Yankees of yore. Those you saw honored last night..
GOD Bless You & GOD Bless the Yankees. It’s a shame that George could not be in attendance.
“GO YANKEES! 2009″

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What an awesome emotional night. It was so great to see Bernie and Paul, those two got the biggest ovations I think. I liked when Whitey Ford and Berra were in the ESPN announcers box. Great speech by Jeet, I wasn’t expecting that! It was funny when the game was over the fans were just standing there in shock, that’s exactly how I felt, total shock. I hope the bleacher creatures continue their tradition in the new park, I love those guys.

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Do you know it Munson’s locker will find its way to the new locker room?

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Hey Bryan, congrats on a great finale there. You’re as much as part to me at least. I liked reading your updates stamped 3:23a.m. That’s a heck of a night!

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