Fond farewell to Yankee Stadium

The first thing I did when I visited NYC for the first time was to track down a New York Yankees cap and proudly wear it for the rest of my trip (or at least most of it). Unfortunately, I did not make it to Yankee Stadium, as the party I was with did not want to leave downtown Manhattan. In retrospect, I should have ditched his ass and hauled out to the Bronx for a REAL baseball game and some genuine, old-fashioned New York memories. But alas, this is as close as I got to the legacy of Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig, and as close as I ever will get to the real Yankee Stadium.

That's right, the New York Yankees played their last game in that 85-year-old stadium last night (vs Orioles, NY won 7-3). All week I have read stirring, and in some cases, tear-jerking recounts of memories made in that stadium over the years. It seemed like everyone had a Yankee memory of some kind, from watching the games from behind first base as a kid, to spending every Sunday for 10 years in the same seats with a spouse who recently passed away, to the first games after 9/11, the New York Yankees and baseball in general have been a defining part of our journey as Americans.

I didn't play or watch baseball as a kid, I didn't get the experience of staring in awe and reverence at players I had only seen on baseball cards, as so many others had. For a time, I actually considered it boring! I was raised on football and basketball; those were the only sports my family ever watched or talked about. The Utah/BYU football game was The Holy War and the Utah Jazz only made it to the playoffs if we paid fervent attention to every minute of every game. So you will forgive me, dear baseball aficionado, when I admit that my introduction to baseball was through Field of Dreams.

Ever since then, an aura of mystery, magic and maybe even unearthliness has surrounded this game. There was something about it that I didn't understand but felt just the same. There is a reverence to baseball, to the classics and to the greats, that is not present in other sports. I understand now how cheating in this game, whether it be by cork bat or human growth hormone, can shame every legacy, every player, every fan.

So it is with sadness that Yankee Stadium is bid farewell. Hopefully someday, I will finally see the Yankees play in their home city. On that day, whosever number is on my blue and white striped jersey, you can bet he loved being a Yankee.
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