Robert Creamer is the recipient of the 2012 Henry Chadwick Award from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). Creamer, who spent most of his illustrious writing career with Sports Illustrated, wrote an article in 1956 that explains what we have lost.
On May 30, 1956, Mickey Mantle came within a foot or two of hitting a ball out of Yankee Stadium. Creamer described it, but then wrote a sentence that poignantly states what has been lost forever.
“…as people come into the stadium and find their seats, almost invariably their eyes wander to The Spot. Arms point and people stare in admiration.”
It reminds one of Frank Sinatra’s great rendition of Joe Raposo’s “There used to be a Ballpark.” Brooklyn lost Ebbets Field and the Bronx lost Yankee Stadium.
Yes, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," but the building in which the New York Yankees play today is not Yankee Stadium. It is a cold structure built to generate revenue.
When people come into the antiseptic, cold corporate structure that ownership has named Yankee Stadium, their eyes cannot wander to, as Creamer called it, The Spot.
The Spot no longer exists as part of Yankee Stadium. It exists as a small circle in the air across the street from the new structure.
Can a mother point to an area near first base and tell her son that Lou Gehrig or Bill Skowron used to defend that territory?
Can a father point first to the right field foul pole and then to the left field foul pole and tell his daughter that on July 25, 1961, Roger Maris hit a home run that hit the right field foul pole and Mantle followed with a drive for a home run that hit the left field foul pole?
Baseball takes us back to the past.
What Yankee fan remembers what they were doing on May 17, 1998 or July 18, 1999? Our two David’s, Wells and then Cone, pitched perfect games in consecutive seasons.
They pitched them at Yankee Stadium.
During the World Series, Yankee Stadium, even and maybe especially during the 1950s, had a corporate, cold feel, but during the season, and perhaps ironically, during the late 1990s, it was different.
There was a common bond between and among Yankee fans. Nothing illustrated that better than the chanting of each player’s name at the start of a game. It's not the same now.
Some of us find it sad and others of us are both sad and resentful that we no longer can locate the spot where Mantle hit his historic home run off Pedro Ramos that beautiful Memorial Day in 1956.
Much more has been lost.