In case you missed it, last night was the night the Yankees played their final game at the current Yankee Stadium.
It probably doesn’t mean much to anyone I know outside of my own family, but it was a sad night.
The Yankees, although not a favorite among many around these parts, has long been our favorite team. Mock me. Hate me, if you will, but I will not relent my position about the Yankees. My grandfather was a Yankees fan. My father is a Yankees fan. I am a Yankees fan. My nephew is a Yankees fan. Dare me to change. Challenge me to root for another team. I won’t.
When I think of America, and apple pie and baseball. I think of Yankee Stadium, and pinstripes. No matter who you cheer for, or why you dislike the Yankees, you can’t deny the facts. Yankee Stadium has hosted more post-season games, Pennant Races, and World Series Games than any other stadium in Major League Baseball. Yankee Stadium has also been home to many of the greatest players in American baseball; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Micky Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, and Alex Rodriguez, just to name a few. The greatest manager in all of baseball, in my humble opinion, called it home and led the Yankees into the post season 12 times during his reign over the Bronx Bombers.*
You can say anything you want to about my Yankees. You can whine about how Steinbrenner “bought” his team. You can complain about how they have dominated the post-season over the years. You can gripe about anything you choose, but you can’t make me believe that they aren’t the best team in the nation!
Alas, “The House that Ruth Built” will be demolished, and New York City will start making new memories. And since Jeter said it better than I ever could:
For all of us here, it’s a huge honor for us to put this uniform on and come out here and play every day.
There’s a lot of tradition, a lot of history, and a lot of memories. The great thing about those memories, you’re able to pass them along from generation to generation. And while a lot of things are going to change – we’re moving across the street – there are a few things that aren’t going to change. That’s pride, tradition, and most of all, we know we have the greatest fans in the world.
We want to have you take the memories of this field, add them to the new memories that will come at the new Yankee Stadium and continue to pass them on from generation to generation. We just want to take this moment to salute you, the greatest fans in the world.**
My only regret is that I did not beg, borrow and steal so that I could take my family to see one game at Yankee Stadium before they tore it down, and fulfill my father’s lifelong dream of watching the Yankees play there. I don’t know how I would have done it, but I wish I could have found a way.
I really needed to find a way to work in the quote I have at the end, but it really needs no introduction.
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
~James Earl Jones, as Terrence Mann in Field of Dreams