We all knew it would eventually happen, but that doesn’t make it any less sad.? Even worse it was the one baseball cathedral I never got a chance to go to and now I never will.? Yankee Stadium, the most important American sports stadium said goodbye last night. Though I’m happy the Yankees won’t be in the postseason as a Sawx fan, as a baseball lunatic there is a large part of me that thinks there is something wrong with a world in which Yankee Stadium no longer exists.
Sure it’ll exist next year in a fancy $1.5 billion dollar affair, but it won’t be the stadium where Ruth hit homeruns and Lou Gehrig played every game until he no longer could, where during the mid-nineties it seemed like every Yankee pitcher could throw perfect games and no-hitters.
The Yankees opened the gates seven hours early, allowing fans to stroll the warning track for one last walk in the park. Closer to game time, the team unveiled the American League championship flag that was raised on the first opening day, in 1923.
Bob Sheppard recorded an introduction, promising to be there to christen the new Yankee Stadium next April 16. A team of stand-ins, dressed in old-time uniforms, processed into center field, representing some of the late Yankees legends. They might as well have come in from the cornfields; the ?Field of Dreams? overtone was palpable.
One by one, the living greats took their positions, all to heartfelt cheers. The children of other standouts ? Randy Maris, Michael Munson, David Mantle and others ? took their fathers? places.
Willie Randolph slid into his position, second base, and rubbed dirt on his jersey, reveling in his return to the Yankees. Whitey Ford pretended to lift out the pitcher?s rubber. The fans reprised chants that rang through the walls years ago ? ?Bob-by Mur-cer!? ?Ti-no! Ti-no!? and so on.
The bench was so stuffed that some of the Yankees sat on the dugout roof to watch. Jorge Posada stood on the field, taking photos with a digital camera, just another fan with rich memories of a stadium that always seemed to give his team an edge.