Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Help
Lasting Yankee Stadium Memory #3
2008-09-10 08:11
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

By Steve Lombardi

In terms of having a lasting memory of "this" Yankee Stadium, it's difficult for me to single out one particular "in-person" game experience and say "That's the one." In truth, I've been very fortunate when it comes to being at the Stadium for some special games.

I have been there for many Opening Days. In fact, I've been to so many of those that I've lost count. If I had to guess, I would say that I've been to at least a dozen of them. This includes the one in 2003 where Hideki Matsui hit a grand slam against the Twins (in his first home game as a Yankee). That was one of the coldest days I ever spent at the Stadium.

I've also had the privilege to attend many post-season games at the Stadium. My first was Game Two of the 1977 ALCS - where Hal McRae tried to kill Willie Randolph on a take-out slide during a double-play attempt in the 6th inning. In addition to that one, I was there for Game One of the 1977 World Series, Game Two of the 1981 World Series, Game Six (Get ya' tokens ready!) of the 2000 ALCS, and Game Five of the 2001 ALCS. All of those were good memories.

Of course, I was also there for some post-season clunkers as well. These include Game Two of the 1997 ALDS, Game One of the 2001 ALDS, Game Three of the 2001 ALCS, and (yikes!) Game Six of the 2004 ALCS.

However, the absolute best post-season experience was witnessing, in-person, Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS. I will never forget being there to see that incredible event. Still, it's hard for me to say that the Boone-Homer game is my "lasting memory" of Yankee Stadium.

Why? Well, I'll never forget being there for that game – for sure. But, I'll also always remember being there on August 22, 1976 – when the Yankees scored 8 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie a game where they were losing, 8-0. And, I'll never forget being there during the second game of a double-header on September 9, 1981 when Dave LaRoche used "La Lob" to whiff Milwaukee's Gorman Thomas. And, I'll never forget being there on July 1, 2004 when Derek Jeter dove into the stands after catching a pop-up.

Heck, I'll always remember being there for Sam Militello's first game on August 9, 1992 – because my buddies took me there as part of my bachelor party and Militello pitched so well. And, there are several other "fun" times at Yankee Stadium that I will remember forever – in addition to that ALCS winner against the Red Sox in 2003.

This is why it's impossible for me to pick "one game" – even a game as legendary as Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS – as my "lasting memory" of Yankee Stadium.

So, then, what is my "lasting memory" of this Yankee Stadium? Well, in the end, I believe that my lasting memory of "the Stadium" will be that "this one" was "my Stadium."

I did see my first Yankees game on August 8, 1973 at the "old" Stadium. But, that was the only time I was at the "first" Stadium. And, I did see a handful of games at Shea Stadium – when the Yankees played there in 1974 and 1975 (including Billy Martin's first game as Yankees manager). But, without question, I've seen the most of my "in person" Yankees games at this current Yankees Stadium. I have no idea how many, but, to be conservative, I would estimate that it's been over 150 games (since 1976).

When I start to ponder my current age and life expectancy, the increasing family demands of my time, and the estimated prices for tickets to the "new" Yankee Stadium, I figure that there's no way that I will ever attend as many games in the "new" Yankee Stadium as I have attended at this "current" Yankee Stadium.

Therefore, "this" Yankee Stadium – the one that opened in 1976 – will forever be "my" Yankee Stadium. And, that's my lasting memory of "the Stadium." For the rest of my life, I will always remember the "collective experience" of being at this Stadium.

Hey, if you're going to have a lasting memory, why not make it a big one?

Steve Lombardi blogs about the Yankees at Was Watching.com

Comments
2008-09-10 08:36:12
1.   Knuckles
I've got dozens of great Stadium memories, but here's a few that stand out.

* Seeing Dan Pasqua hit a key homer leading to a Yanks win, probably 1987. Saw Buhner do the same thing a year or two later. Both were traded for crap.

* The first game in the bleachers after they banned beer. It was a Friday night against the Mets and it was just a scene. People showed up pretty sauced- fights, jeering, etc. Piazza homered off Clemens. The Sunday game was rained out, which set up the first split-stadium doubleheader a month later, where Clemens drilled Piazza and set the stage for the October broken bat weirdness.

* Game 6 of the ALCS- went with my brother, we had awesome seats. El Duque pitched, which was always awesome. The Mets had won the NL pennant already so everyone in the Stadium knew a Yankee win would mean a Subway Series. When Justice homered to RF, the place shook like I have never seen it before or since (though I haven't attended any WS games...) That Subway Series was fun as hell. Watched all the games either in bars in Manhattan, where I worked at the time, or out in Montauk visiting friends.

2008-09-10 09:11:11
2.   williamnyy23
Steve's cumulative recollection pretty much sums up my feelings too. Although I don't go as far back as Steve, I would estimate that I have been to about 200 regular season games at the Stadium (I think my highest total for a season was in the mid-20s) from 1984 to 2008, as well as 20+ post season games. So, it really is hard to pick one. I can remember the incredible anticipation before attending my first game against the Twins in the Summer of 1984; seeing Canseco hit a bomb in 1986 and someone throw a mini-football at Bo Jackson during his first appearance in 1987. I can also remember a huge comeback win over the Twins in the summer of 1987 when the fans in my section banged on the seats so hard, all of the backs came right out of the frame. Those seats would probably go for $1,000 a piece on eBay. I also started a run of Opening Days from about 1988 to 1998, as well as a season package off and on for the better part of 1996-2008. Interestingly, but not ironically, the regular season games started to all meld together as I was able to attend more and more games. In that span, I was lucky enough to attend Gooden's no-hitter and can remember a lot of buzz for Irabu's first start (which seems out of place now). More than anything, the playoffs are the games that standout in that span. I was at just about every playoff game in 1999, including the Bernie walk-off against Boston and the game-4 World Series clincher. I also attended three of the Seattle games in 2000…the Justice HR was a big highlight. Not only was their exhilaration, but realization that the dreaded subway series was now a reality. Probably, the closest I can come to pinpointing a favorite moment is when Don Mattingly went deep in Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS. It remains the loudest moment that I have ever experienced at Yankee Stadium.

Like Steve, I don't expect to attend as many games over the next ten years as I have the last ten. I'll probably re-up with my package for the first season in the new Stadium, but can see letting it expire after that, regardless of how well the team does. Not only has it become more difficult to find the time to head up the Stadium, but the novelty has worn off quite a bit. Sometimes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I am looking forward to my last two games of the season (the Friday and Sunday games against Baltimore). It will probably be the first time in 16 years that I have attended a game in Yankee Stadium in which the outcome of the game was meaningless. I'll probably use the occasion to walk around the old place, take some pictures and try to draw on more memories. Of course, it will be weird to have 56,000 other people in the way. I kind of wish I could say my respects in solitude…or at least in 1990-style, with the seats sparsely filled and crowd more subdued.

2008-09-10 10:19:49
3.   JL25and3
My most lasting memory, I think, is cumulative but also specific.

Every season, when I go to a game for the first time, walking from the concourse out through the entryway. All of a sudden I'm outside and the field is stretching out in front of me, and suddenly I feel more complete. I don't even really know what I've been missing all winter until it's right there again.

It feels like home. I have a feeling that the new Stadium will never feel like home.

I was at that Gorman Thomas game, one of my all-time favorites. But if I had to choose a single game, it would definitely be the fifth game of the 1976 ALCS. The homer and the ensuing chaos were the climax, but that was a tremendous game even before that. Also, I finally got to see a pennant after suffering all those years. (I was conscious of baseball in 1964, but barely.)

2008-09-10 10:32:38
4.   pistolpete
I've already been forced to cut down on my Stadium attendance since moving to CT, so I can't see going to more than my usual 2-3 games per season that I'm doing right now anyway.

I used to be in Tarrytown/Westchester during the dynasty years, and I remember — in 1996 — shooting down to the Bronx in about 20 minutes while the Yanks were playing a doubleheader in which they clinched the division. We actually left the house shortly after the game had already started, got some tickets in the cough parking lot cough, and made it in time to watch Jeff Nelson finish off the Orioles.

Confetti rained down, the scoreboard displayed 'Division Champs', and my wife & I stayed for the entire second game as well — which they lost.

Mariano gave up 3 runs in 0.1 of an inning, strikebuster Dave Pavlas had to come in and bail him out.

2008-09-10 11:11:51
5.   mhmitch
Thanks to Steve for such a well written tribute to Yankee Stadium II. I think the one of the best features of the internet is that strangers can reminisce about shared experiences in a way that would never take place otherwise. How else would I come across anyone except my brother who attended both the obscure August 8, 1973 weekday game when Fred Beene pitched a complete game in relief of Fritz Peterson who was injured on the first play AND the 1977 ALCS Game 2 Hal McRae/Willie Randolph game. I also get a kick out of so many people mentioning over the years the 1991 Mel Hall/Jesse Barfield comeback game vs the Red Sox which was one of the few games that I was able to attend after I moved from the NY area in 1982.

My greatest memory would have to be attending 1978 World Series games 3,4 & 5 in the left field upper deck. Two legendary games, one satisfying blowout, three Yankee World Series wins in a 48 hour period.

2008-09-10 11:17:08
6.   3rd gen yankee fan
These recollections are great. I'm looking forward to curling up with them over the winter too.
2008-09-10 12:43:34
7.   NetShrine
mhmitch - you may enjoy this link on that 8/8/73 game:

http://waswatching.com/2006/11/27/where-it-all-began/

2008-09-10 14:29:03
8.   Jeb
0 Steve, wow! As always great stuff. Color me pea green with envy. I caught Jeter's 2000th hit game in 2006, but I've only been to 5 games at the Stadium. I kind of hate it when people say it's not the stadium because of the changes because it's still an old park, it still looks great (at least to me it does) and lots of great things have happened there for the Yanks (10 Pennants, 6 World titles and 18 playoff appearances (including '80, '95, '97, '02, '04, '05, '06 and '07 to go with the pennant winners).

1 Knuckles, was the Pasqua homer against the Chisox? I seem to remember a game he won on a homer that year.

2008-09-10 17:16:08
9.   mhmitch
Thanks NetShrine (and Steve Lombardi again). That was a great account of the game by Jim Ogle. I liked the quotes from the players. They were all brutally straightforward. How many players today would say like Gene Michael said, "I'm a bad hitter but I try to compensate by concentrating more in key situations."
2008-09-10 19:08:23
10.   NetShrine
Jeb, and others, thanks.

mhmitch - FYI, NetShrine is me...Steve.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.