I grew up loving baseball, and save the few years when the game checked out (strikes, ignoring the fans, greed, etc…) I still do. I’ve written about my passion for the game and in particular about the hallowed ground on which it is played. The stadiums keep coming down and yesterday one of the most storied homes for the game saw its last crowd. Heard its last cheers. I went through this with my team, the St. Louis Cardinals a couple of years ago. You can read about it here.
Now my brother-in-law, a devoted Yankee fan, is having the same experience with his park. He was actually able to attend the final game at Yankee Stadium. What a thrill it must have been. A golden memory always to be cherished. Their life revolves around baseball in many ways, and for those who are initiated, no explanation is necessary. For those who don’t understand, no explanation is possible. We don’t even try.
My personal history related to the Yankees comes in two parts. One is a Reggie Jackson autographed baseball that is carefully stored in my home. The other was watching Roger Maris play. He came to St. Louis and was a key factor in the Cardinals series win against Boston (Jim happy) winning the 1967 series. It was the end of his career so he was slower, but he was an amazing hitter that delivered clutch hits day after day. Not too shabby of a connection with New York baseball for someone who grew up and still lives in the Midwest.
As another landmark fades away I’m reminded of a great film, Field of Dreams. The wisdom is delivered by way of a soliloquy from Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) as he explains to Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) that he has no choice but to build the field and allow his dream to play out.
And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
So long Yankee Stadium. Thanks for everything. I wish I could have seen more of that history in person, but I’ve got my own memories. You can’t have everything.
Photos courtesy of James Roberts.