By Steve Lombardi
In terms of having a lasting memory of “this” Yankee Stadium, it’s difficult for me to single out one particular “in-person” game experience and say “That’s the one.” In truth, I’ve been very fortunate when it comes to being at the Stadium for some special games.
I have been there for many Opening Days. In fact, I’ve been to so many of those that I’ve lost count. If I had to guess, I would say that I’ve been to at least a dozen of them. This includes the one in 2003 where Hideki Matsui hit a grand slam against the Twins (in his first home game as a Yankee). That was one of the coldest days I ever spent at the Stadium.
I’ve also had the privilege to attend many post-season games at the Stadium. My first was Game Two of the 1977 ALCS – where Hal McRae tried to kill Willie Randolph on a take-out slide during a double-play attempt in the 6th inning. In addition to that one, I was there for Game One of the 1977 World Series, Game Two of the 1981 World Series, Game Six (Get ya’ tokens ready!) of the 2000 ALCS, and Game Five of the 2001 ALCS. All of those were good memories.
Of course, I was also there for some post-season clunkers as well. These include Game Two of the 1997 ALDS, Game One of the 2001 ALDS, Game Three of the 2001 ALCS, and (yikes!) Game Six of the 2004 ALCS.
However, the absolute best post-season experience was witnessing, in-person, Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS. I will never forget being there to see that incredible event. Still, it’s hard for me to say that the Boone-Homer game is my “lasting memory” of Yankee Stadium.
Why? Well, I’ll never forget being there for that game – for sure. But, I’ll also always remember being there on August 22, 1976 – when the Yankees scored 8 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie a game where they were losing, 8-0. And, I’ll never forget being there during the second game of a double-header on September 9, 1981 when Dave LaRoche used “La Lob” to whiff Milwaukee’s Gorman Thomas. And, I’ll never forget being there on July 1, 2004 when Derek Jeter dove into the stands after catching a pop-up.
Heck, I’ll always remember being there for Sam Militello’s first game on August 9, 1992 – because my buddies took me there as part of my bachelor party and Militello pitched so well. And, there are several other “fun” times at Yankee Stadium that I will remember forever – in addition to that ALCS winner against the Red Sox in 2003.
This is why it’s impossible for me to pick “one game” – even a game as legendary as Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS – as my “lasting memory” of Yankee Stadium.
So, then, what is my “lasting memory” of this Yankee Stadium? Well, in the end, I believe that my lasting memory of “the Stadium” will be that “this one” was “my Stadium.”
I did see my first Yankees game on August 8, 1973 at the “old” Stadium. But, that was the only time I was at the “first” Stadium. And, I did see a handful of games at Shea Stadium – when the Yankees played there in 1974 and 1975 (including Billy Martin’s first game as Yankees manager). But, without question, I’ve seen the most of my “in person” Yankees games at this current Yankees Stadium. I have no idea how many, but, to be conservative, I would estimate that it’s been over 150 games (since 1976).
When I start to ponder my current age and life expectancy, the increasing family demands of my time, and the estimated prices for tickets to the “new” Yankee Stadium, I figure that there’s no way that I will ever attend as many games in the “new” Yankee Stadium as I have attended at this “current” Yankee Stadium.
Therefore, “this” Yankee Stadium – the one that opened in 1976 – will forever be “my” Yankee Stadium. And, that’s my lasting memory of “the Stadium.” For the rest of my life, I will always remember the “collective experience” of being at this Stadium.
Hey, if you’re going to have a lasting memory, why not make it a big one?
Steve Lombardi blogs about the Yankees at Was Watching.com