I went to my first and only game at Yankee Stadium earlier this year, a Sunday game in April against the Rays. As I took my seat behind home plate I drank in the stadium – the green lawn, the Facade running along the bleacher billboards, the retired numbers out in Monument Park – and I tried to imagine all the greats who made the stadium come alive. I tried to imagine Babe Ruth circling the bases with his little birdlike feet, or Joe DiMaggio gliding in from center to snag a fly ball.
And I tried.
And I just couldn't do it.
I was so goddamn cold I could barely concentrate on anything but the weather. I know, I know – just what you'd expect from a Californian. But I swear I wasn't the only one. A cold wind whipped in from left field and had the sparse crowd huddled together for warmth. Whenever the Yanks retired the side or scratched out a hit the fans would let out a perfunctory clap or two before sticking their hands back in their pockets. Sometime around the 4th inning a fan sitting behind us accidentally spilled his beer all over my four-year-old nephew. It was about as far as you could get from my first-ever baseball memory – seeing Reggie Jackson, on TV, go deep three times in a row against the Dodgers. I can still remember how the air looked in Yankee Stadium that night (at least as it came across our Zenith television): thick with pitch and moment, steam from 56,000 fevered bodies rising into the October night.
My experience with Yankee Stadium was nothing like that. There was no momentousness, no steam, no October magic, and certainly no Babe or Joe D. It was, instead, a pretty ho-hum experience – a stiff reminder that Yankee Stadium isn't, after all, a vending machine. Its wonders aren't available on demand.
Brian Gunn is a screenwriter living in Los Angeles.