I was nine the last time the Yankees missed the playoffs – so young that I don’t even remember it. It’s sad to me that they will miss the playoffs for the first time in 15 years in Yankee Stadium’s final season. Not really the send off Yankee fans were hoping for, especially considering Yankee Stadium has almost been the de facto home of the playoffs since its inception in 1923. In fact, Yankee Stadium has hosted playoff baseball more years than not (45 to 40), and has played host to 15 percent of all postseason games and 21 percent of all World Series games.
I had the privilege of growing up just about an hour’s drive from Yankee Stadium, so I’ve lost count of how many games I’ve taken in at the House the Ruth Built. My memory is also pretty bad, so I’m probably forgetting many great moments – Scott, can you help me out?
I have so many memories at Yankee Stadium, from church trips to “man” trips with my dad and brother, to games with our neighbors, the Fecis, to my “bachelor party” game with Dad and Scott, to my final game this past May (which was my wife’s first and last time there). I’ve seen regular season games, playoff games, and World Series games. I’ve sung along down the ramps after big wins, walked in silence after tough losses, and chanted “Red Sox Suck!” after meaningless games against the Royals.
I really wish I had kept all my tickets from the games or kept a log of the games I attended. There have been some great moment I’ve witnessed – including Darryl Strawberry’s three homerun game in 1996 (he was about 10 feet away from his fourth!), to the 2000 ALCS-clinching homerun by David Justice, to blowout wins (and losses) to heartbreaking losses. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Yankee greats like Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettite, Don Mattingly, Alex Rodriguez, and Mike Mussina. Perhaps my only regret in my many trips to the Bronx was that I never visited Monument Park, the open-air museum to all the Yankee greats.
I know my disjointed, rambling memories pale in comparison to other memoirs written about Yankee Stadium, especially to this piece in the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated. I choked up several times in reading the article. I’m looking forward to visiting the new $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium next year, though I know it just won’t be the same. Yankee players and I can no longer say that they play on/watch games at the same field that greats like Ruth, Gehrig, and DiMaggio did. The new Yankee Stadium will have to forge its own memories, starting with the likes of Jeter, Chamberlain, Cano, Hughes, and Rivera (if he doesn’t retire?). Maybe one day my kids and grandkids will look back on the new Yankee Stadium with the same emotions with which I look back on the House that Ruth Built.
For you Mets fans, I do have one memory of my first and only time at the Dump, aka Shea Stadium: Greg’s “bachelor party” game and tailgate. We totally got yelled at for having our shirts off. It was so hot.