The last time my dad was in the Bronx for a Yankees game was Old Timer’s Day (OTD) during the 2008 Season. We had thought his last game was going to be July 4th, 2008 against the rival Red Sox, but that day my Mom pulled me aside and asked if my brother or I could ask people who sat around us if they were willing to sell one of their OTD tickets to us. She wanted to send my dad back up to NYC as his birthday present to spend the day at The House That Ruth Built watching the Old Timers with his children. Luckily we sat next to a wonderful young family that wasn’t going to attend the nearly 6 hour day because of it would be a long day for the children. Dad was going to see one more game at the old park!
I have been to six OTDs since I moved back to the area. The 2008 OTD was by far the best. It seemed as though the team had assembled nearly every former Yankee player, in reality it was only 70 and Dad was brought back to his childhood. After the very long ceremony and very short “game” Dad looked at us and said “Ok…I’m ready to go.” Of course he was kidding and we watched the Yankees beat the Angels 8-2. After the game as we were boarding the 4 train to head back to Manhattan, Dad looked back to the stadium and said goodbye to the ballpark he grew up in.
My parents live in Florida and timing was never right during the 2009 season for him to make it to a game. This year my parents decided that they would make the pilgrimage up from Lake Worth, Florida during the summer to celebrate my Dad’s 65th birthday and finally make it to a game.
Dad returned to the Bronx on August 22, 2010 for his first game at the new Yankee Stadium. Now of course Dad had seen all the pictures I take when visiting the stadium and between the MLB Extra Innings package, the Florida sports channels and ESPN, he knew what the field and stadium looked like. The week leading up to the game Dad was just worried about the weather…even as we walked to the subway in the pouring rain he was doubtful that the game would happen.
As the 4 train pulled into the stop at 161st St and River Ave, Dad looked at me with a sad face, it was the first time he saw the big dirt pile that used to be the old Yankee Stadium. (Over the winter I sent him shots of the first parts of the Stadium being demolished and he requested I stop). As we crossed over 161st St Dad’s eyes got big. We entered through Gate 4 and proceeded to walk to the field directly behind home plate. The look on Dad’s face was priceless. It was a look of awe, which he had all day, and sadness. First words out of his mouth? “Pretty cool”.
I proceeded to show him, and my Mom, around the field level. All the pictures from the championship years, as he named almost all of the players in the photos from the 50’s and early 60’s championships. After that we headed to the Great Hall and the Yankees Museum. Unfortunately, the line for Monument Park was just way too long for us to visit. I was surprised that Dad wasn’t more interested in all the signed baseballs that are on display at the museum, but he did enjoy the exhibit on the NY rivalries.
After a little more strolling around we made our way to our seats for the game. Section 422 Row 4 and good news the tarp was coming off the field! We would be starting on time! Just before the game started my brother joined us and he asked how my parents liked the new stadium. Dad said “everyone says it reminds them of the original stadium. I don’t think so at all”
The game started on time. C.C. Sabathia vs. Luke French. Since this isn’t a post about the game itself, if you are interested about what happened you can read The Daily News’ Mark Feinsand’s live game blog here. In the middle of the 6th inning as C.C. was throwing a gem of a game, the umpires call for the tarp. RAIN DELAY! NOOOOOOOO!!!!
It seems to be every time the four of us try to attend a Yankees game there is a rain delay. My brother and I have named it “The Curse of Mom”. Why Mom? Well, because in the 7 years since I have moved back to the area we, as a family, have attended 4-5 games all had at least an hour rain delay. When Dad came up for OTD in ’08 it rained in the morning but ended up being a beautiful day well before game time. Hence, “The Curse of Mom!”
The rain delay lasted exactly 57 minutes. We ventured under the grandstands and met up with some friends to say hi. Dad mentioned how much nicer it was to wait out a rain delay at the new stadium as opposed to the old one with its narrow and stuffy corridors. When the rain subsided and the tarp was off the field, we headed back to our seats. Play resumed and of course C.C. didn’t return to the mound. Very sad since, as I already mentioned, he was throwing a gem. All in all C.C. threw 6 shut out innings of 3 hit ball and had 8 strikeouts and had only thrown 76 pitches! WOW!
As the game was headed into the bottom of the 8th inning it started to rain….again. Dad looked at us and said “let’s go”. I was SHOCKED! My father who had been looking forward to this game since 2008 wanted to leave?!?! What kind of baseball fan is he?! He gave 2 reasons, he was sick of being wet and we had dinner reservations. DAMN YOU RAIN DELAY!!!
As we exited the Stadium headed for the 4 train, Dad looked back and said “Pretty cool, but it’s not the original.”