Our Last First Trip to Yankee Stadium

I’m sure most of you know that the tickets we bought on eBay were counterfeit. Luckily there were tickets available at the Stadium and we were able to get into the game with better seats and for $100 cheaper than the counterfeit tickets. Our money was refunded to us by the person we bought them from on eBay, so we’re all good there.

Needless to say I was pretty upset when they put that big “COUNTERFEIT” stamp on the tickets, but Ali was calm, cool and collected this time, bought us new tickets, calmed me down, and we then went to enjoy the game.

Now. Enough of that.

Yankee Stadium. It’s called the The House That Ruth Built, the Cathedral of Baseball. It was built in 1923 in The Bronx, New York for the low cost (by today’s standards) of 2.5 million. By contrast, New Yankee Stadium is estimated at 1.3 billion dollars.

Yankee Stadium has seen 37 World Series (with the Yankees winning 26 of them), hosted 4 All Star games, and many other special events such as major boxing events, 3 papal masses, the “greatest game of the century” Army vs Norte Dame college football in 1946 (“Win one for the Gipper”) amongst others.

Opening Day capacity was 58,000 and a ticket for the grandstands cost $1.10. The average salary in 1923 was $1,293.

If you would like to read more about the history of Yankee Stadium, go here:  http://www.nydailynews.com/features/thestadium

66 years after opening day in 1989 I went to my first ever game at Yankee Stadium.

My parents gave me tickets for a game in August around my 8th birthday.

I remember when I was really young we had a black AM radio (it may have had FM, I dunno) and my Dad and I used to listen to games on it while I helped him work around the house. I was 3 or 4.

After that, I remember watching the Yankees on TV with my dad on WPIX. Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto was the play by play announcer for the Yankees back then, and I can still hear Scooter yell “HOLY COW” after each amazing play or hit to this day. Scooter sadly died earlier this year.

Back to my first game. I don’t remember who they played (if I had to guess it was the Cleveland Indians or the California Angels, and according to The Baseball Almanac, they were both in New York around my birthday), I don’t even remember if they won.

What I do remember is parking in a lot underneath the Major Degan highway that runs right by Yankee Stadium, and crossing the highway in a tunnel and seeing the baseball bat smokestack.

I was wearing my new Don Mattingly t-shirt, and I had my blue baseball glove, I believe my Dad had his glove (the beloved Rosebud which I now have).

After walking around the stadium, and getting a program we made our way to our seats. I remember vividly walking through the dark tunnel out into the box seats. The tunnel was so dark, and as soon as I walked out of it, the sun smacked you in the face it was so bright, the grass so green, the sky so blue.

It was batting practice for the visiting team, and the crack of the bat was so loud that it echoed in the stadium. I could smell the grass, the beer, the hot dogs and that outdoor summer smell.

I was in awe. Players at batting practice were sending the balls long into the outfield stands, outfielders were snagging the balls that didn’t make it over the fence.

After the batting practice was cleaned up, the voice came.

“The voice of God.”“Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to Yankee Stadium.”

Bob Sheppard is the voice of Yankee Stadium and has been since 1951. The 2008 season is the last season Bob Sheppard will be the announcer of Yankee Stadium. Due to poor health, Bob hasn’t been very active this year. Luckily he was at the game Ali and I went to.

I don’t remember much other from my first game at Yankee Stadium, except that at some point, a vender came by selling hot dogs. My Dad asked if I wanted one. I didn’t. But he got one. He handed it to me to hold so he could pay the vender and as he turned back to get it he saw me finish eating the hot dog that I didn’t want.

That’s all I remember from my first trip to Yankee Stadium.

It would be a little more than 10 years before I went back. And I went back a whole lot. In the course of 2 or 3 years I must have seen 30 or 40 games (or more) and every time I walked through the tunnel into the stands, I was an 8 year old again, and the same feeling washed over me.

I’ve seen games in Shea Stadium (Mets), Comiskey Park (White Sox), Miller Park (Brewers) and Minute Maid Park (Astros) and not one lives up to Yankee Stadium. Not even close.
Ali loved the Yankee Stadium experience. She’s been hearing me talk about it for over three years now. She could sense my excitement, but I don’t think she understood it until she was there to see the sights, and experience it first hand, and see me at probably my most favorite place on Earth.

The drama with the tickets notwithstanding, it was an amazing time, and a great way to end our personal era of Yankee Stadium.

It was really hard for me to leave the stands, I would have stayed there all night if I could, just to soak in every last possible sight.

I don’t know how New Yankee Stadium will compare, but from what I saw on the outside, it is simply gorgeous. They worked off the original 1923 plans of Yankee Stadium and modernized it. I hope we can go to a game there next year, it would be a great bookend for our last game (and Ali’s first game) at Yankee Stadium.

Tomorrow (Sunday, September 21, 2008) is the last game at Yankee Stadium. ESPN is doing seven hours of Yankee Stadium coverage, plus the game, so I will be planted firmly in front of the television for at least 10 hours tomorrow.

Hi, I'm Mike. I'm From the Internet.