There was a time when baseball was America's Pastime. When every little kid wanted to imitate Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, or Ken Griffey Jr. When Saturday afternoons consisted of pick-up games in the street rather than huddling around a television to watch college football. When the game was a symbol of American culture.
Those days are long gone, and the population doesn't seem nostalgic anymore about Major League Baseball. The U.S. has become a football nation and baseball has abandoned its tradition in desperation to keep pace with the NFL.
As long as it has existed, baseball has been the ultimate numbers' sport. 714 (Ruth), 61 (Maris), and 26 (NYY) are just a few of baseball's magical numbers, but two of these numbers have since fallen and the stadium where all these numbers were made famous is soon to follow suit.
This Sunday will be the last game every played at Yankee Stadium. I realize that the new ballpark will bear the same name, but it won't carry the history and certainly won't have the feel that the current ballpark has had for the past 85 years.
"The House that Ruth Built" is a fairytale landmark that will soon be demolished because they need to make room for the new stadium. Hardly the proper decision from a historical perspective.
Yankee Stadium cost $2.5 million in 1923 and is now being replaced with a $1.3 billion construction that can never match the original stadium's impact on baseball. This is a prime example of business superseding pastime. There will be no time to feel or reminisce about the stadium because the new stadium will be too busy bringing in revenue.
Major League Baseball has lost its luster that made it so great for the last 100 years. Yankee Stadium is hallowed ground. It is a recognizable monument that was the stage where Lou Gehrig retired, Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmeling and stuck it to Hitler, and the Pope led Mass on three different occasions.
My favorite memory is the 2001 World Series where Derek Jeter became "Mr. November" after the terrorist attacks postponed the major league season. I still get chills when I see a clip of George W. Bush walking out to the mound while 60,000 people chanted "U.S.A., U.S.A!!"
When the 85-year old Yankee Stadium gets demolished to make way for the new ballpark, professional baseball will never be the same. The tradition-rich sport will be officially dead as America's Pastime and the business known as George Steinbrenner will open a new chapter of Yankee history.
The old chapter in history, where numbers related to baseball statistics, will make way for a new chapter, that will consist of large numbers with dollars signs preceding them. The aura of Yankee Stadium will be gone forever.