Today is the first day in 85 years that Yankees Stadium will not be preparing for another game. Last night marked the final game to be played in what many people are calling our Roman Coliseum. Not only did Yankees Stadium host World Series Champions, it hosted Super Bowls, College Football classics, Joe Louis & Ali winning heavy weight crowns, it welcomed 3 Popes and Presidents. That building helped New York City and our country deal with September 11th. That building is the Babe, it is Joe D, the Mick, Yogi and Jeter. It is everything a sports stadium could be. It is actually the first ballpark to be called a stadium. It is the first 3-tiered sports arena in North America and it went out the same way it came in…with a Yankees win!
It was a great event last night that had the feel of a World Series game even though the Yankees have had a disappointing season and will likely miss the post season for the first time in 13 years. The organization did a great job of bringing in past greats and honoring those players that made the Yankees what they are and also what they will continue to be. No other sports franchise can pull together the number of hall of fame players to celebrate their history and they showed it off last night. It is always great to see millionaires acting like little kids and it was refreshing to see the players of today really understanding the history of the evening. Mariano Rivera was fighting back tears as he made his last run in from the bullpen to record the final three outs on those hallowed grounds. Rivera is a hall of famer himself, yet he could not escape the emotion of playing the final game in the greatest sporting venue in the history of the United States.
As many of you may know I am a Yankees fan, and many of you may wonder how a kid growing up in Oklahoma could be a Yankees fan. Well Derek Jeter mentioned it last night when he said that their fans pass along the pride and tradition from generation to generation. For many Oklahomans of my father’s generation the Yankees are their team. After all they grew up with fellow Oklahoman manning center field for the Yankees, first with Mickey Mantle and then followed up by Bobby Mercer. So my father did what other Yankees fans did…he passed down the pride and tradition to his sons. Fortunately my father, brother and I were able to make one trip to New York City to experience a couple of games in this Yankee Stadium. Hopefully we will be able to make another trip to New York to experience a couple of games in the new version…and hopefully the mystic will remain even though the venue hasn’t.
I have never thanked a building for anything and I don’t think I am going to now but if a building ever deserved a sincere thank you it would most definitely be the original Yankee Stadium.