Oh yes, please… the ballpark

March 28, 2019, in The Bronx.

The high temperature only in the 40s.

The earliest opening day ever at Yankee Stadium.

And nobody cared.

It was better by far than the home opener in 2018, where the game had to be postponed because of snow.

And for baseball fans throughout the metro area, whether we could be there or not, for anyone and everyone who’s ever been to a Yankees game — home opener or not — just knowing that game was being played meant a walk down Memory Lane.

The Legal Genealogist‘s first experience with a baseball game in person was at the old Yankee Stadium, originally built in 1923 and where the Yankees played until 2008. By the time of my first game there, it was already a “classic” — to the point where it had to be closed in 1974 and 1975 for renovations. It had rickety wooden seats and the subway ran right by it and…

And…

And it was wonderful.

Even for someone like me, who doesn’t particularly enjoy watching baseball on television, going to a game at a major league stadium in person is something special. There’s an electricity in the air, the smells of popcorn and hotdogs, the crack of the bat on the ball, the agony of the strikeout, the joy of the home run, the thrill of a game well played.

And — you’ll just have to pardon my Yankee-loving heart here — there’s no place where any of that is better than at Yankee Stadium.

That pre-2008 stadium was where I took my baseball-loving niece to her first professional ballgame — and she practically levitated out of her seat, even out of the stands, and caught a foul ball.

That was where her brothers and sister and parents saw their first professional ballgame. And their second. And their third…

It was the stadium of Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio and Whitey Ford and Lou Gehrig. Of Goose Gossage and Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth and Dave Winfield.

It was amazing.

Until — it seemed like it was all of a sudden — it was gone. And there was a new Yankee Stadium.

And, I remember oh so well, where I was not at all sure it could ever be anything like my Yankee Stadium. Where Babe Ruth hit the first home run in 1923. Where Andy Pettitte was the last pitcher, Mariano Rivera recorded the last out and Jose Molina hit the last home run in September 2008.

Baseball, I thought, would never be the same.

Except that there were still youngsters in the family. And tickets to be had. And a day in late August in that first 2009 season when five of us trooped to The Bronx. The Chicago White Sox had come to town to face the New York Yankees.

It was my nephews’ first professional ballgame. They loved the new Yankee Stadium. The seats are terrific. Everybody’s got a good view of the field.

But as it got towards game time, the temperature started to drop — it was surprisingly chilly for a late summer night. There was a light misty rain falling and the hoodies my nephews were wearing weren’t waterproof or nearly warm enough. One of the boys was totally and utterly entranced, giving a running commentary on every play. The other one was totally and utterly uninterested in anything happening under the lights down on the field.

“When can we leave?” he asked, every time the popcorn level got a little bit low in the box he was holding. “Now? Now can we leave?”

And, every time, my answer was the same: “Not now. Not until the end of the fifth inning. It’s not a complete game until the end of the fifth inning.”

As it got darker, and sometimes a bit wetter, and certainly colder, my sister-in-law finally turned to me. “Is there even still a fifth inning rule anymore?” she asked.

I didn’t know; I couldn’t remember. But I knew we had to stay until the end of the fifth inning, even if the popcorn supply ran low.

And here’s why.

play ball

Their first professional ballgame.

Their names up on the scoreboard at the end of the fifth inning.

And nobody wanted to leave after that.

Tied 2-2 at the end of regulation.

Yankees 5, White Sox 2 at the end of the 10th.

Oh yes, please… take me out to that ballpark.

The now not-at-all-new Yankee Stadium.

Even just for a walk down Memory Lane.

Any old time.


Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Take me out to the…,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 30 Mar 2019).

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