Yankee Stadium Prepares for Final Game

September 19, 2008

Bob Shawkey. The Cathedral of New York Sports opened in 1923 with a pitch by that man, so it is only fitting this article starts with him. Since 1923, Yankee Stadium has hosted the New York Yankees, one of the most successful teams in baseball history. The Stadium has also held numerous other sporting events and concerts. This Sunday, the Stadium will have its final game.

Yankee Stadium has left an imprint on the memories of most that enter its hallowed grounds. For some, it was seeing one of Babe Ruth’s mammoth shots into the bleachers. Perhaps it was watching Joe DiMaggio in his 56 game hitting streak. For some, the favorite memory is watching the perennial subway series between the Yankees and Dodgers in the 1950’s.

Maybe it was watching Reggie Jackson’s three home run game in the 1977 World Series. Or for those of us who are too young to remember any of that, it was the most recent dynasty.

For over a decade, this reporter was a partial season ticket holder to Yankee Stadium, first sitting in section 20, then section 7, both downstairs. The highlight of my time there came in 2005, the night after my high school prom.

I was unsure if I would go to my prom, but ended up going and returning home at five in the morning, just to get a little sleep before seeing a game against the Cubs I was awaiting for four months.

I went and witnessed Derek Jeter hit his first career Grand Slam. At the time he was at the top of the active list for most career at bats with the bases loaded without a grand slam.

Whether it’s the 26 world championships of Yankee Stadium, the ivy walls of Wrigley Field, or the green monster of Fenway Park, you have to admire all three stadiums. Each has been standing for over 8 decades.

Thanks to the Chicago historical society and the will of Red Sox ownership to maintain Fenway, neither of the latter two stadiums will be coming down anytime soon. But New York has always been an economic market.

Economics has lead to the decision of Yankee brass to build a new stadium and tear down the current one. They wish to call the new stadium Yankee Stadium, but it is not the same. The records, such as Jeter’s newfound record for most career hits in Yankee Stadium, stolen from Lou Gehrig earlier in the week, will not transfer to the imposter across the street.

In 1923, the Yankees won their first World Series in their first year in Yankee Stadium. The team has won a championship every decade except the 1980’s. Yet in Yankee Stadium’s final year, the Yankees find themselves not even making the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

Thus, this Sunday becomes an even bigger event as every fan knows it will be the last game ever played. Yankee legends are on their way now to the Bronx to pay their last respects. Bernie Williams, who hasn’t shown up at Yankee Stadium since the end of the 2006 season when he wasn’t offered a major league contract, is booked to return. It will be an emotional day for all. Yankee Stadium was like a second home to players and fans alike for so many years.

This Sunday, Yankee Stadium closes for good. The game is on ESPN at 8 pm. The opponent is Baltimore. Perhaps the game will just be another game. Perhaps it’ll be an epic one making history.

It would be fitting for Mariano Rivera to get the save to win it. Also fitting could be a walk-off home run by Jeter. One thing is certain. There will be an end. So I give to you a space to end this article. Come Sunday night, we will know how this article, like Yankee Stadium ends, and the blank in history will be filled. The ending will be clear.

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