By Pete Caldera
We’ve talked and talked, and asked and asked about Yankee Stadium memories for months. What will you recall most? What will you take? And then Derek Jeter reminded us of an underrated – and unforgettable – treasure.
It’s the view.
From the batter’s box, for a thousand games, Jeter tapped home plate and stared straight toward the black batter’s eye – a perfect hitter’s backdrop. And from the front row of the press box, I was lucky to take in the whole panorama from behind home plate.
You couldn’t always see what was going on in the corners, but any member of the BBWAA was granted one of the best seats in the old house. The dugouts, the mound, the infield, the on-deck circle were all right in front of you. The battles in the stands – for foul balls, or for disputes – were in clear view. Occasionally, some daredevil drunk would even drop out of his box seat and land on the netting in front of us (happened twice).
The Bronx County Courthouse on a clear day. The moon rising from left field on a clear night. It was all right there. And then, of course, there was that grand, green field – and I’ll count myself forever fortunate to have witnessed some precious moments on that celebrated turf.
I was there for David Wells perfect game, on a cloudy May afternoon. Remember that backhand stab by Chuck Knoblauch, of all people?
Saw an unassisted triple play by Randy Velarde.
Saw David Cone’s perfect game, and remember telling a friend during a rain delay (33 minutes) that it was too bad – Cone’s slider was unhittable. He could no-hit the Expos.
Saw Mussina save the day in Game 7, the night Pedro was left to battle through the 8th inning, and couldn’t. Then, Aaron Boone. And bedlam.
Saw Pedro come within a Chili Davis homer of perfection, still the greatest pitched game I ever witnessed.
Saw the Red Sox win the pennant. Saw plenty of brawls – like the night Strawberry seemed to take on the entire Orioles team in the visiting dugout. Saw Jeter in the hole, whirling and throwing. And saw hundreds of his 2,000-plus hits. And saw go for that pop up, in fair territory, against Boston, knowing that his only landing area was full-speed into the stands.
Saw A-Rod make the Stadium small with those colossal home runs, and wished I could’ve seen Joe D. swing for the deeper fences – the original dimensions.
Saw the first Subway Series game, and the first Mets-Yankees World Series game. Saw Joe Torre do that slow walk to the mound. Saw DiMaggio wave from a convertible. Saw the Florida Marlins celebrate, and heard them too, in the silence. Saw the All-Star Game that never ended.
I witnessed all that from the press box, mostly from Seat 12, behind a red plate with ‘The Record’ in white lettering.
The Yankees are giving the writers those plates. And from where that plate once stood, I’ll never forget the view.
Pete Caldera covers baseball for The Bergan Record.