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Monday, September 29, 2008

Bronx late night run..The house that Ruth built...and Steinbrenner Renovated.

Bronx run to 161st and River Ave. Yankee Stadium. Baseball is over, and the memories that I have here will live forever. I have been fortunate to be at many games in this " Cathedral " of baseball going back to my early childhood. My father was a police officer and used to take us to games along with kids from gangs in Brooklyn that they were trying to steer away from the gangster lifestyle through the youth intervention and police athletic league.

I was lucky to enough to be hanging with these young gang baseball enthusiasts who had a chant for everything that carried on through my life. They had chants to a player at bat or in the field, all the way to ordering peanuts, and both were done with as much fervor. These were people without fathers or mothers or in some cases both. BUT, they still had a determination of winning, and they did it with a flavor that still is recognized to this day. Back then they were" The Bleacher Creatures" as section 39 is known today , and I have the tickets to prove it. Con Edison sponsored these tickets by the way...

I learned at a young age to appreciate being a "fan" of anything, is good for the heart...and sometimes bad, when they lose of course.....but such is life. I was at the Ron Guidry 18 strikeout game, The 96 World Series win game with my father and mother who passed on a year later ( we had a choice to sell game 6 or 7 because we had tickets to both and my mother said NO tonight they win it, great memory), the Aaron Boone pennant walk off home run win game and many more record breaking and exciting games..I may drive a cab, but I am still very fortunate with my life experiences and learned not to take any of them for granted. ....but none will resonate more than the game I went to, as I tell you the following story.

April, 1979. My brother and I were sitting in our respective classes of catholic school as the day began. I was in the 5th grade and my brother was in the 7th grade. I guess it was about 11:00 am when the shit hit the fan..The PRINCIPAL who was a nun with her evil stare came to my brother's class as well as mine to tell us that there was an emergency in my family and we had to go upstate. UPSTATE !!!! ??????? What the fuck is going on we thought , who died? who is hurt ? what the fuck happened?!?!?!?!? Well, we put on our dorky catholic uniform winter coats with our names inscribed in script on the left corner of our lapel ( Eddie on one Matthew on the other) as we left our school quite nervous with the impending doom which we were both anticipating of something bad happening, because we NEVER, got taken out of school for ANYTHING less than something terrible happening to the family.

However, on this particular day my father and mother directed us to do our homework in the backseat of our Chevy Celebrity or it might have been our "Chevette" which was a UFO on the ground. Anyway , we did our homework and as I recall, it was very difficult to do my penmanship homework tracing the words of beautiful penmanship to the textbook that the school had for me, to the tune of a New York City pothole. Then as we crossed a certain borderline of the boroughs that make up New York City, and my father and mother felt like it wasn't lying to the good nuns, since WE were going UP-STATE from Staten Island...BUT !!!!! Here's the caveat,we were headed upstate ,and in our minds an emergency, but in the immortal words of my father and mother in unison as they turned around in the front seat to look at us face to face as any parent would at this moment and announced , WE were headed toward the
Bronx (Upstate to any New Yorker, well at least north towards upstate, so no lie !!) going to the Yankee Home Opener in THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT !!!

YANKEE STADIUM for opening day !!!! WHAT ???? Miracles do happen !!!!!!!! Ron Guidry won the Cy Young the prior year..but he lost the opener when we went...but it was better than school. Watching the first game with my brother and I smirking while eating a hot dog, a pretzel, and a hot chocolate....while all our friends were still in class....priceless.

So thanks for the memories Mom and Dad and thank you New York Yankees for many great years. Thanks for being the King and Queen of New York that opening day and taking our asses out of our desk and into the seats at The House that Ruth built....Peace, I am The King of New York hacks.


  1. shame I doubt the bostonians would knock fenway park....errrrrr you new yorkers got no sense of history???????????????????

  2. Did I knock Yankee Stadium Roy? Geez I hope I'm not misinterpreted. If I am you are my new editior !!! but if you are referring to knocking it down....well, I took my nephews to a game and the bathrooms were so inadequate and filthy that I physically had to hold them airborne over the toilet to take a shit...and they are twins , so I had to do it twice..I look forward to a new era and a clean bathroom...history is in the heart. you're the best Roy !! By the way , have they ever taken down a hurling stadium?

  3. My first memory of Yankee Stadium? My Dad and the King's Dad took me and my best friend to see the Yankees play the Twins, around 1966 or so. The only player on either side who was friendly to fans and signed loads of autographs was the Twins' backup catcher, Earl Battey... which is why I became a Twins fan for years! I didn't start rooting for the Yankees until much later- around 1973, in fact (right at the time when the Mets owned New York!)

    My best Yankee Stadium memory (just a little better than that night in 1978 when Guidry struck out 18 Angels) was from that very season of 1973! My Mom took me and my brothers to the Old Timers Day Game, and Mickey Mantle actually hit a long home run to left field off Whitey Ford in that game!

    Mickey retired in 1968, so he was probably only 40 or so at the time.
    His knees were shot, but he still hat the bat reflexes- he probably could still have been a DH that season!

    Back in 1973, I was only 12, and the "Old Timers" were guys like Dimaggio. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig's widows used to show up to throw out the first pitch in those days. The days of Ruth and Gehrig SEEMED like such ancient history then, but really... Gehrig had been an active player just 34 years earlier.

    You know what that means? To a 12 year old today, Thurman Munson and Bobby Murcer are as ancient as Gehrig once seemed to me! THAT'S depressing!

    Coincidentally, after he retired, Earl Battey became a PR man for Con Edison, and I used to see him in the bleachers, still talking to kids and signing autographs as nicely as he always used to.

  4. The old yankee stadium had brought so much good times and memories for all its fans. Can't change the history, lets hope the new stadium will bring Yankees good luck the next season.
    New season, new stadium, new start.

  5. Great reply astorian, or should I say "cuz"....and I agree anonymous, New will bring lots of new memories and good times.

  6. One last Yankee Stadium tribute, to a guy who went out of his way to make the summer of 1978 even more special.

    Most of the Yankees were real cheapskates when it came to signing autographs. Ron Guidry was about the only player on the 1978 squad who could be bothered signing autographs or acknowledging shouts of encouragement from fans. His teammates generally ignored fans.

    Those of us sitting in the bleachers learned that there was no point seeking autographs from Yankee pitchers in the bullpen, because Lyle, Gossage and Co. wouldn't even acknowledge our presence. There was only ONE guy in the bullpen who always had time to talk to kids and sign autographs- and it wasn't even a "real" player. It was Dom Scala, the bullpen catcher.

    As I recall, Fran Healy was unwilling to warm up relief pitchers, which meant that the team had to find somebody else to do it. Dom Scala, a former St. John's University player had been a so-so catcher for one of the Yankees' farm teams. Right around the time he was being cut from the roster, he heard the Yankees needed a bullpen catcher, and he was happy to do the job, just to be around the game.

    Most of the kids in the bleachers didn't know that Dom wasn't a real player. All they knew was, a guy in a Yankees uniform smiled at them, talked to them, and signed their program. He made their night!

    And the thing is, it wouldn't have been ANY more work or effort for Goose or Sparky to do that than it was for Dom. They COULD have signed a few autographs for a few minutes and made a few little kids happy. They chose not to.

    Maybe since Dom wasn't a great player, he had a better understanding than they did of just how lucky he was to be there. Whatever the reason, he always seemed thrilled that anybody wanted his autograph, and was always happy to sign for any kid who asked. I HOPE a few real players noticed what he did, and felt just a little bit ashamed of himself.

  7. True. Dom Scala was the best.I recall using fishing line to lower my program and Dom smiling,joking and autographing all who wanted one, Class act for sure. If only they all were like that. I also remember Guidry signing many autographs during batting practice and before games. Nice reminder astorian. Thanks cuz.