Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Time Machine
2008-04-02 09:55
by Alex Belth

Okay, so if you could go back in time and attend any event at Yankee Stadium what would it be? The Louis-Schmelling rematch? Reggie's three-dinger game? Chambliss's pennant-winning homer game? Which one of these?

Oh, and speaking of randomness, let me just say this: If I could go back in time and visit any place in New York City, I'd go to the old Penn Station and the Polo Grounds.

Finally, if I could re-cast movie history, I'd have Sean Penn play Ty Cobb, not Tommy Lee Jones. And while we're on Ron Shelton, I'd also have cast Gene Hackman play the lead role in Blaze, not Paul Newman. But more than anything I wish Art Carney had gotten the chance to reprise his stage role of Felix Unger in the movie version of The Odd Couple. Jack Lemmon was good in the movie, but man, Art Carney was in a league of his own.

2008-04-02 10:12:57
1.   Sliced Bread
Larsen's perfecto is the one I'd most want to go back in time for. Among the cherces you listed, no question, the Reggie clincher.

Old NY? I'd like to see this island when it was just a spit of virginal beaches and woodlands. Imagine that.

Re-writing movie history I would cast myself as the love interest in "Blue Crush" or whatever that chick surf flick with Kate Bosworth was called. Heh. Snub this, Oscar.

2008-04-02 10:14:50
2.   Cliff Corcoran
It would have to be something in the old Stadium since I never had the privilege. Larson's perfect game leaps to mind and comes complete with the Brooklyn Dodgers and a Mickey Mantle homer.

Funny you mention Penn Station. Contemplating the fate of Yankee Stadium has made me think about the old Penn Station and about New York City's poor track record for preserving its own history.

My time machine would go back and get Elvis Presley to cover the Beatles' "I'll Cry Instead" during the acoustic sit-down portion of this 1968 comeback special and find a way to save Jimi Hendrix from choking to death on his own vomit, passing that fate on to George Lucas circa 1985 instead.

2008-04-02 10:16:36
3.   wsporter
Would have loved to have been there for the first opener in 1923 and seen the boys beat Boston and the Babe hit one out. What a thing, what a sight it must have been brand spanking new right out of the box.
2008-04-02 10:21:08
4.   dianagramr
I'd like to have been there for Gehrig's "luckiest man" speech, Babe's speech, the first game after Thurman's passing.

As for actual games ... no one in particular jumps out at me .... I would have loved to have been there to watch Joe D patrol center.

Old NY? .... hmmm .... give me those old "railroad car" diners, phone booths you actually sat in, and summer evenings when it seemed entire blocks were outside sitting on stoops.

As for re-casting movie history .... remove all traces of Pauly Shore and Rob Schneider, as well as Godfather III and Rocky III through IV.

2008-04-02 10:21:20
5.   williamnyy23
Without a doubt Lou Gehrig Day on July 4, 1939. Gehrig is my "baseball hero" and I would have loved to be in the park that day.
2008-04-02 10:23:27
6.   williamnyy23
2 It's a good thing the same fate didn't befall Grand Central Station. It's sobering to realize how close the city came to wrecking it.
2008-04-02 10:24:18
7.   Alex Belth
Yeah, Cliff, I know that the NY Historical preservation movement really got started by the two-year destruction of the old Penn Station. Jackie O had a lot to do with it from what I remember watching in the Ric Burns' series about NYC. There is at least one picture book I know of about the old Penn Station and it is absolutely stunning.

You know another game I'd like to be at, though this is really about being a contrarian...the game at the end of the 66 season when there was a paid attendence of 413. Red Barber, who was doing the TV broadcast, was instructed by his producers NOT to mention the skimpy crowd, and the cameras were instructed NOT to show any shots of the stands. But Barber felt compelled, as any reasonable journalist would, to mention it.

"I don't know what the paid attendance is today," he said, "but whatever it is, it is the smallest crowd in the history of Yankee Stadium, and this crowd is the story, not the game."

A week later, when the season was over, Barber's contract was not renewed.

2008-04-02 10:25:51
8.   williamnyy23
As for a date in NY history, I think I'd like to have been among the crowd that gathered on VE day.
2008-04-02 10:34:54
9.   dianagramr

Wow, they really DID pull in 413 that day!

2008-04-02 10:52:26
10.   Bob Timmermann
I saw Hideki Irabu's debut! I got a free umbrella.

I'm still waiting for the Hideki Irabu Yankeeography.

2008-04-02 11:00:48
11.   Sliced Bread
10 I'm pretty sure I was at that one, too, but I didn't get an umbrella.

Anyway, ask and ye shall receive. The Irabu Yankeeography (with working title):

2008-04-02 11:07:19
12.   JL25and3
1 Don't go for Reggie, go for Chambliss. That was a tremendous game from start to finish. It was also the first pennant after a long drought - and the first since I was 8, which hardly counted. And the mayhem was unlike anything you'll ever see.

I know. I was there.

My dad was at Lou Gehrig Day, which would also be my choice.

2008-04-02 11:11:42
13.   rbj
Any one of the three perfectos. Or even Rag's no hitter (I was in Britain at the time, when I came back my dad handed my the front section of the NY Times with the story on it).

Or any game in 1927.

I also wouldn't mind visiting lower Manhattan on Sept. 10, 2001.

2008-04-02 11:12:24
14.   williamnyy23
11 I was also at that memorable game against the Tigers, but didn't get an umbrella either!!
2008-04-02 11:19:57
15.   williamnyy23
Not to shift the game too much, but what about the best game you actually attended in the Stadium? For me, it would have to be the Leyritz game in the 1995 ALDS. I've been to countless playoff games, including the 1999 World Series clincher, but that one still sticks out for me.
2008-04-02 11:22:45
16.   jkay
For me it would be the Louis/Schmelling or the Larsen game.

I enjoy horseracing so I would go back in time to see Morris Park and Jerome Park racetracks both in the Bronx in the late 1800's.

2008-04-02 11:30:01
17.   Sliced Bread
12 yeah, it's hard to argue with the Chambliss game. I still feel a jolt through my body thinking about that shot, and as a 10 year old Yanks fan at the time it meant more to me to beat the hated Royals than the Dodgers, whom I didn't know much about.

Still, man, Reggie's feat was out of the comic books. It's still kinda hard to believe what he did. That would have to be one of my first stops in the time machine... then, I'd dial it back a year for Chambliss. Fair enough?

2008-04-02 11:32:33
18.   Cliff Corcoran
15 Might have been the July 1, 2004 Jeter-into-the-stands game, though certainly Game 6 of the 2000 ALCS (Justice homer/series winner) would have to be in the discussion.
2008-04-02 11:40:30
19.   Shaun P
I'm going to be greedy. I want a game with DiMaggio and Mantle, Scooter still playing SS, and Stengel managing. So that knocks out my first two choices, Maris's 61st HR and Larsen's perfect game. How about either one of Allie Reynolds's two no-hitters in 1951?

The first one was a 1-0 nail biter against Bob Feller, and seeing Feller pitch as well is tempting.

The second was against the Sox, and clinched the division for the Yanks. Its also the game where (according to the story), Williams popped one up, but Yogi dropped it, and then Reynolds threw the same pitch, and Williams popped it up again - and Yogi caught that one.

I can't pick between them, so could I have both?

2008-04-02 11:41:10
20.   jkay
15 Game 1 of the 2000 WS. Opening night of the Subway Series, a great game and the Yanks pull it out in extras.
2008-04-02 11:41:47
21.   Shaun P
15 This is easy for me. Old Timers' Day 1991 - the only game I've been to at the Stadium where the Yanks won.
2008-04-02 11:50:04
22.   williamnyy23
18 I was at Game 6 of the ALCS too...the stadium definitely went nuts when Justice reached the upper deck, but nothing compares to the reaction when Mattingly hit his HR earlier in the game. Heading into the 6th down 2-1, Rueben Sierra tied the game with a HR. Next in the box was Mattingly and I believe he belted the very next pitch into the right field bleachers to tie the score. Once the ball left his bat I can remember everyone in the ballpark throwing whatever they had in their hands up in the air and erupted.

As great as that game was, the loudest I ever heard the stadium was in game 1 of the 1995 ALDS. I don't remember the exact situation, but David Cone had a 3-2 count on a batter with a few men on base. The Stadium crowd rose to its feet with a resounding and sustained cheer that only dissipated when Cone walked the batter.

I think the reason those 1995 crowds stand out the most is because they seemed to be made up of "real fans". The Yankees were new to the post season and the season base wasn't as large, so more tickets fell into the hands of "real fans". I can remember waiting in line up at the Stadium to buy them and noticing how excited everyone was. Now, most of the seats are sold beforehand and many of the fans who fill the seats are there because it's an event.

2008-04-02 11:53:44
23.   williamnyy23
21 That's some drought! If I am guessing correctly, you got to see Alvaro Espinoza belt a HR against David Wells too!
2008-04-02 11:54:50
24.   JL25and3
17 I guess my preference is because, while Reggie's was a phenomenal feat, the 1976 game was just a better game. Because of Chambliss, no one remembers Brett's 3-run shot that tied the game. I've never heard the Stadium as quiet as it was when that went out.

I was also there for Reggie's fourth consecutive Stadium HR, on - I believe - four consecutive swings. There were 3 in the WS game, then the fourth on Opening Day the following year. That was when Reggie bars came flying out of the stands by the thousand, covering the field around the perimeter. A truly memorable moment.

The more I think of it, the more I'm tempted to go for Louis-Schmeling.

2008-04-02 11:55:05
25.   williamnyy23
22 Is obviously talking about Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS in the first paragraph. I wish Mattingly had still be active in 2000!
2008-04-02 12:03:45
26.   Bagel Boy
Game 6, 1996; and I was there. Going back would mean I was 19 again and my Dad was still alive and with me. It was the happiest day of my life (just don't tell my wife).

Seeing Jim Abbott's no-hitter in person would have also been something special.

As for non-realistic games, I don't see how I could go with anything other than Larsen to Yogi. And that wasn't too shabby of a Dodgers lineup.

2008-04-02 12:08:53
27.   rbj
15 Probably my first game at the stadium, when Tommy John returned as a California Angel. IIRC, he threw 3 WP in the first two innings.
2008-04-02 12:10:33
28.   Sliced Bread
oh, and I'd definitely set the time machine for the Jeff Maier game. First ALCS action at the Stadium since forever ago, Bernie wins it with his 11th inning walk off. Oh, yeah, take me back to that one please, and give me a seat next to Jeffrey.
2008-04-02 12:13:23
29.   EB in LA
No love for the Aaron Boone game?

I'm not going for that one either. Of a game I remember, I'd pick the Chambliss ALCS game. All time, I'd probably go for Gehrig's farewell.

No one has mentioned the NFL's greatest game, either. Giants-Colts 1958.

2008-04-02 12:14:14
30.   Sliced Bread
I'd put more than a few miles on the time machine going back to Bernie's big moments.
2008-04-02 12:21:45
31.   JL25and3
29 "No one has mentioned the NFL's greatest game, either. Giants-Colts 1958."

Great call. I'm not a football fan, and that would probably still make my top 5. However, it would almost certainly be the most uncomfortable of the bunch - so damn cold...

2008-04-02 12:22:05
32.   monkeypants
I would just pick any typical game at the Old Stadium because I never got the chance to attend one. In fact, I would love to have seen one game before 1937 and one game after (when RF and the bleachers were finalized). As a consolation prize, I would take any game from 1976 to 1985, before they screwed with the new dimensions--I saw a number of these but was too young to really remember.
2008-04-02 12:51:45
33.   Biscuit Pants
I did get to see Mantle bat when I was 4 years-old, but my memory is dim. My picks in order:

Opening Day, 1923

Mantle's homer that hit the facade

Lou Gehrig's farewell

Any game late in DiMaggio's hitting streak

Any game during Ruth's '21 season.

2008-04-02 12:53:45
34.   dianagramr
Panic in Detroit ..... Tigers have lost first 2 to Royals.
2008-04-02 12:53:51
35.   Biscuit Pants
Alex, have you ever read "Forever" by Pete Hamill? It's a fantasy about a guy who's given immortality and basically lives through the history of NYC. A little slow in parts, but a fun read.
2008-04-02 12:59:12
36.   JL25and3
26 My nephew - a regular poster on these boards, but not here this afternoon - was at Abbott's no-hitter and David Wells's perfect game. Little so-and-so...
2008-04-02 13:21:47
37.   tommyl
15 Game 1, 1998 WS. My first Yankee postseason game in person and I'll never forget the feeling of the upper deck shaking when Tino hit that grand slam.
2008-04-02 13:23:53
38.   mhmitch
I can't think of a best game, but the best weekend of games I ever attended were Games 3,4, and 5 of the 1978 World Series in the leftfield upper deck when I was 14. Game 3 featured Graig Nettles saving a hittable and understandably tired Ron Guidry with about 4 fantastic plays all with runners in scoring position. Game 4 was a thrilling extra inning win with Lou Piniella driving in Roy White with the winning base hit. The game also featured the famous play with Reggie's hip getting in the way of a Bill Russell double play allowing Munson to score from 2nd base. Game 5 was a 12-2 blowout with Munson, Doyle, and Dent crushing the ball all day and an excellent start by Jim Beattie. All this took place within a whirlwind of 48 hours and three roundtrips from the middle of Long Island to the Bronx.

I think I would take the wayback machine to the late 20s for a Yankees-Philadelphia A's matchup. One in Yankee Stadium and one in Shibe Park.

2008-04-02 13:50:10
39.   Bob B
A lot of you young guys forget that the NY Giants played football in Yankee Stadium. I would go to the "Greatest Game Ever Played", the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Giants and the Colts. 15 players and coaches who are in the Hall of Fame were involved in that overtime game. The Giants lost but the game put the NFL on the map.
2008-04-02 13:52:37
40.   EB in LA
Now that I'm in memory lane mode.

If I could pick one Yankee game to travel back in time and space to see it wouldn't even be at Yankee Stadium. It wouldn't even be a game the Yankees won.

It would be to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh in October 1960. Game 7.

2008-04-02 14:18:26
41.   monkeypants
39 "The Giants lost but the game put the NFL on the map. "

Since we have ESPN to remind us about the NFL every minute of every day of the year, I don't feel the need to see the game that put it on the map. Plus, yet another agonizing Giants loss. Yick!

2008-04-02 14:44:10
42.   OldYanksFan
It wasn't much of a game, but I was there.
May 14, 1967.
Longest standing ovation in history?
2008-04-02 15:26:13
43.   EB in LA
"It wasn't much of a game, but I was there.
May 14, 1967.
Longest standing ovation in history?"

Amazing, so was I.

Mark Belanger, wearing number 7 for the Orioles hit his first major league home run.

A few inning later, another guy wearing the same number hit his 500th.
The standing ovation lasted all the way through Elston Howard's AB.

Yes, it was memorable.

2008-04-02 15:37:48
44.   williamnyy23
29 Could call on Giants/Colts. Now that I think of it, this is the 50th anniversary of that game. Too bad the Giants/Colts can't have another Manning Bowl and play it at the Stadium. That would be a much better way to close the old place than with a silly outdoor hockey game.
2008-04-03 00:28:02
45.   RustyJohn
My dad was a huge polka fan and when Neikro was pitching for the Yanks we always had to go to the games when Jimmy Sturr was playing. I hated polkas then, but since my dad passed I have to admit to stopping my radio when it is on scan and hits on a polka station. I find myself thinking about 20+ years ago, a kid barreling down the Garden State Parkway on the way to the stadium while my dad drummed his fingers on the steering wheel listening to a Jimmy Sturr polka in anticipation of seeing him at the stadium. So, if I had a time machine, I'd probably go back to the stadium for a game that Niekro pitched where Jimmy Sturr played before the game.
2008-04-03 03:10:16
46.   debris
Well, fortunately, or not, I am old enough to have seen both Penn Station and the Polo Grounds. I wasn't old enough to appreciate Penn Station, but I was the Polo Grounds, where I saw the Mets play numerous games and the Titans once.

I was at the Reggie 3 HR game, in the Uecker seats in right field. I saw him hit 3 HR; I saw none of them leave the yard as the right field fence was out of my view.

If there's any one event that I'd like to go back in time and attend at the Big Ballyard, it would certainly be Johnny Podres clincher in 1955. I do remember watching the last few innings, at the age of 7, after running home from school.

2008-04-03 03:38:26
47.   debris
A bit more. Reggie's clincher was the third WS game that I attended. I'd seen one earlier game that year, but my first WS game was the 7th of the 1956 at Ebbets Field. At 8 and already a rabid Dodger fan, it was a tough day for a kid.

Having all the insight and perspective of an eight year old, I knew, absolutely knew, that there was no way we could lose this game. We were defending champions and we had Big Newk going. Big Newk, coming off a 27-7 season, and about to receive the first ever Cy Young Award. Big Newk, who'd hit .359 with 7 hr in 1955, giving the Dodgers a nine man attack. And the opposition? Johnny Kucks, a young pitcher, a 23 year old whom I'd never heard of. Sure I knew Yogi, the Mick, Moose and the rest, but Johnny Kucks was meaningless to me. We absolutely couldn't lose.

Well, this one was over before it started. Newcombe was gone early and Johnny Kucks blew the tired old Dodger team away. Having been no-hit by Don Larson a few days earlier, and four hit the day before by Tommy Byrne in a game the Bums won 1-0 in ten innings behind a complete game shutout from bullpen ace Clem Labine, the weary Dodgers could manage only three hits against Kucks.

Yogi hit a pair that day; no, I don't know how far out of the strike zone they were, just that they cleared the screen in right above Carl Furillo's head on their way to Bedford Avenue. Moose Skowron hit a grand slam. 9-0 was the final.

My most vivid recollection of the day is the smell of cigar smoke in the old ballpark and the crying towels the Yankee fans were waving out their windows as we headed out of Brooklyn for Long Island. I grew up on Long Island, my parents leaving Ocean Parkway a few months before I was born, nine years before Walter O'Malley would blame them and their ilk for his decision to make a move that pains me to this day.

That was Jackie Robinson's last game. That was the last World Series game played in Brooklyn and, hence, the last in that great rivalry. Don Newcombe, on the fast track to the Hall of Fame, drank himself off that path and into a Cincinnati uniform within two years. Johnny Kucks lasted a couple of more years in pinstripes before taking the NY-KC shuttle that was so popular in those days. He was out of baseball by the age of 26.

(By the way, if you're not familiar with Don Newcombe's career, take a gander at his stat line. Newk was one of the great pitchers in baseball history. Coming out of the Negro Leagues, Newk could have started his MLB career even before the age of 23. A 23 year old rookie in 1949, Newk was 17-8. He followed that with 19-11 and 20-9 before missing his 26 and 27 age years to military service. He came back slowly, with a 9-8 1954, followed by 20-5 and his monster 27-7 1956.

Then the bottle took over. He did bounce back with a strong 1959, before finishing his playing career at the age of 34 in 1960. Big Newk did conquer his drinking problem a few years later and has spent the rest of his life helping other ballplayers with alcohol and drug problems. The 81 year old Newcombe still works in the Dodger front office in community relations.)

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