Last Thursday, to mark the beginning of the Yankees final homestand at Yankee Stadium, our Yanks writer Ed “Lover” Valentine wrote a moving piece, sharing some of his personal memories of the Stadium.
As the final weekend approaches, the coverage of the last days of Yankee Stadium will undoubtedly become unavoidable and nauseating. Ahad told Starbuck, “Stand up amid the general hurricane, thy one tost sapling cannot.”
But what the hell, I’ve recruited our Orioles guy, Patrick Smith, and our Red Sox guy, Cameron Martin, and we’re going to try to add a little balance by sharing our own memories of the true nature of That Old Dump In The Bronx.
Smitty: I sat in the rightfield bleachers for Hall of Fame Day in 1987 against the Tigers. Catfish Hunter was being inducted that year and the Yanks had a special day for him. Bob Sheppard announced each of the immortals in his unmistakable style. Mantle, Berra, Rizzuto, Ford, Dimaggio were all there. (I don’t think Martin was there that day.) During the pregame ceremony, all the Tigers but one left the field out of respect for the Yankees. The only guy who stayed on the field was Kirk Gibson, who refused to change his warmup routine. While Joe D was making a speech, Gibson laid down on his back in the outfield grass, raised his legs above his head and pointed his ass right at Dimaggio. I never laughed so hard in my life.
Cam: My first game at Yankee Stadium was in 1980 versus the Blue Jays. It was Bat Day. Captain and Tennille sang the national anthem. We sat in the upper deck behind home plate, and I remember thinking, “This place smells.”
Chalk: My first game at Yankee Stadium was on a rainy Friday night in May 2005. I thought it was safe to make my first visit because the Yankees were 11-18 and tied for last place in the East with my beloved Devil Rays. I didn’t realize then how lucky I was, because Carl Pavano was actually the starting pitcher! (Facing Barry Zito of the A’s, no less.) I went home happy, because Mariano Rivera got the loss in extras with help from a 10th-inning error by A-Rod. I went in with an open mind, but I was thoroughly unimpressed — the place felt no more historic than the Vet and less historic than Shea. Maybe it was different three decades ago before the renovation, but now the concrete fortress just seems like Johnny Damon post-Red Sox. The Shaved Emasculated Shell Of Johnny Damon, The Renovated Emasculated Shell Of Yankee Stadium. After that first game, the Yankees went on to win 10 in a row, and I vowed never to return. I kept that vow for over two years, but then I wanted to go see my Devil Rays and I ended up seeing four more games there over the past two seasons. I saw three Yankee wins during day games, and one glorious night game Devil Rays blowout. I sat in the bleachers and heard the constant rattling of what I later learned were antiquated trash compactors. I think that’s when I came up the moniker I usually refer to the Stadium by, That Old Dump In The Bronx. There is absolutely nothing I will miss about the place.
Cam: My last game at The Ashtray that Ruth Built was last May versus the Red Sox. The Sox won. We sat in the upper deck in right field, and I remember thinking, “This place still smells.”
I know we’re not the only ones saying, “Good fucking riddance!” this weekend. Please share your memories of what a dump TODITB is/was. And enjoy what most likely will be a completely meaningless final game between fourth and fifth place teams. Cosmic justice!