MUSHY'S MOOCHINGS: AN OLD AND A NEW YANKEE CATHEDRAL

Sunday, September 21, 2008

AN OLD AND A NEW YANKEE CATHEDRAL

On February 6, 1921, the Yankees purchased 10 acres of property in the west Bronx. The land, purchased from the estate of William Waldorf Astor for $675,000.


The new stadium favored left-handed hitters with the right-field foul pole only 295 feet from home plate, while it was 429 feet out to right center. Though the left-field pole measured only 281 feet from the plate, right-handed hitters were neutralized by a 395-foot left field and a whopping 460 to left center. In the beginning the new stadium had only eight toilet rooms for men and as many for women! During a remodeling 50 years later, renovations included more than 50 restrooms!


The first construction contract was awarded to New York's White Construction Co. on May 5, 1922 with the edict that the job must be completed "at a definite price" ($2.5-million) and by Opening Day 1923. Incredibly, it was. In only 284 working days, Yankee Stadium was ready for its inaugural game on April 18, 1923 vs. the Boston Red Sox. They won the game!


This year in August, I was privileged to have the opportunity to experience a ballgame in this great “cathedral” to the sport!


I wrote, after that experience:

Our seats were very high up in the stadium, but almost directly behind home plate. It was easy to see the little “ant” players swinging, spitting, scratching, hitting, and running around below us. Frankly, it took me several minutes before I ever got into the game, or even looked for the score. I wanted to take it all in…the people, the sounds, the smells, and most of all to feel myself sitting in an aisle seat and watching a professional baseball game – not just any ol’ game, but a New York Yankee’s ball game!


At the “seventh inning stretch” everyone stood and sang along to “America”. I choked…I could not sing more than 3 or 4 words; it was just too much for this ol’ fat boy! “What a moment this is,” I thought, “I’m here and I am feeling so very blessed.”


I looked out over the center and right field walls and on over into the Bronx and it was full of Americans…all kinds of Americans. “Do they feel like I do? Do they realize how blessed they all are?”


Then, just as I succeeded choking that back, they began playing and everyone was singing, “Take me out to the ball game…


I looked out over crowd and wondered if they realized the tradition in the moment! “Man, just think of the people that have played in that stadium and who had watched them play…the luckiest people in the whole world. Thank God I’m an American,” I was thinking, “Why aren’t we all just blubbering around the stands and hugging each other, swapping hotdogs, and bumping plastic beer cups!?”


Tonight the Yankees play their last game in this wonderful old facility. Many hearts are broken that the games are moving from there, and that the facility that built father/son/daughter memories for 85 years will be torn down.


Hopefully, new traditions and family bonds will be built in the new facility just across the street. It will take time, I’m sure, but one day, say another 85 years from now, other fans will feel the same way about this new “cathedral!”

9 comments:

Sarge Charlie said...

great minds think alike, I did a stadium post also

Mushy said...

Yes, I read yours too Sarge!

Suldog said...

Well, as a Red Sox fan, I'll always have mixed feelings concerning anything to do with the Yanks. However, I always hate to see an old ballpark go down. We treasure our history so little sometimes.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Very cool. Love the history. Last night on TV the football comentators were talking about one of their regulars getting the night off to go to the game, and how they'd said the security wasn't allowing people to bring tools into the stadium. Folks taking seats, I guess. Would be too cool to have one.

pat houseworth said...

Seems, me, you, and the Sarge, all used the Yanks as a theme today.

David Sullivan said...

Yankees suck! That said, I've held the same sentiments while sitting in that ballpark.

Les Becker said...

Our little city just recently replaced its hockey arena, amid much argument and such. Buildings come to mean so much.

I enjoyed your memories.

Becky said...

I've never seen a game there, but I wish I had (I love baseball).

That 1 Guy said...

Forgive me, Mushy. I can't stand the Yankees.

But I've always wanted to make it to Yankee Stadium... THE Yankee Stadium. As you said, there's so much history there.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Now, I've gotta try to get to Fenway, and (I'm ashamed to admit) Wrigley.