As the end of the current Yankee Stadium draws near, I would like to share some of my memories of the Cathedral of Baseball.
I barely remember my first game. I was so young, and I only remember sitting on the field level behind home plate with my family thinking to myself "Those are the YANKEES playing right there in front of me!" I can't remember who they were playing that day during the season in the early 1990's, or if they even won. But that game turned me on to baseball and the Yankees, and that is why it will always be important to me.
I'll never forget going to the first Subway Series against the Mets at Yankee Stadium. It was June 18, 1997, and I went with my fourth grade class for an end-of-the-year field trip. I was elated that the Yankees won the game by a score of 3-2, and was happy to see Cecil Fielder, one of my favorite players at the time, hit a homer off Rick Reed. David Cone got the win against his former team, as well.
Of course, I saw the Boston Red Sox play at the Cathedral. I only had the pleasure of seeing a Yanks/BoSox game at the Stadium once, but it was a great one. Again, it was a field trip, this time with my eighth grade class. May 24, 2001 was the date. Mike Mussina vs. Pedro Martinez: how much better does it get than that? Well, it was a great game to say the least. Moose and Pedro each struck out 12 batters, and Bernie Williams homered off Pedro in a 2-1 Yankee win.
I might never forgive A-Rod, or maybe myself, for the timing of his 500th career home run. My cousins had tickets to the Aug. 5th, 2007 game and invited my sister and I to go with them. We went to the game that day, but missed Rodriguez's 500th career homer by one day! However, the game we went to featured Hideki Matsui's 100th career homer (as a Yankee), so I guess you could say we saw history. The Yankees beat the Royals that day by a score of 8-5, and it was another win for Mussina.
I guess I'm ok with it, because I saw A-Rod on pace to his 500th career homer on July 21, 2007, a game my cousins and I attended against the (Devil) Rays. We sat in the bleachers and looked on as A-Rod clobbered a pitch off (Devil) Ray's pitcher Casey Fossum, his 33rd long ball of his third MVP season and 497th homer of his career. So I guess you could say I caught him right before and right after the big 500.
Speaking of A-Rod, who will most likely go down as the greatest hitter in baseball and probably the future home run king, I'll never forget the first time I saw him play at Yankee Stadium as a member of the Seattle Mariners. It was Aug. 27, 1999, and my best friend invited me to the game for his birthday. I remember how amazed I was sitting in the upper deck in left field and seeing all these players on the same field at the same time: Griffey, Jr., A-Rod, Jeter, Buhner, and Roger Clemens was on the mound that night. The Yankees shut the M's out, 8-0.
I'll also never forget watching (for the first time) A-Rod hit a home run in Yankee Stadium as a member of the Texas Rangers on Aug. 7, 2003. It was his 30th homer of his 2003 MVP season. Rafael Palmeiro homered that day, too, but Enrique Wilson--yes, Enrique Wilson hit a grand slam that day in a 7-5 Yankee win.
If some of you might recall, the Yankees and the (Devil) Rays played a game on June 21, 2005 which is sometimes replayed on the YES Network as a Yankee Classic. I went to this game and couldn't even believe what happened. My sister, my uncle, my cousin and I were sitting in the loge level when Randy Johnson got roughed up in the first three innings. But the Yankees miraculously came back and won the game by an unrealistic, football-like score of 20-11.
Everyone will always remember the magical 1998 season. The Yankees won 114 regular season games, David Wells tossed a perfect game in May, and of course we swept the Padres in the World Series. The one game I remember going to in '98 was a game against the Minnesota Twins on Aug. 10. We had box seats right behind third base, we were so close to the field. Paul Molitor, at the time a member of the Twins, came over to me and my cousin during batting practice. We asked for his autograph, but he said he had to do wind-sprints and couldn't sign. Scott Brosius and Bernie Williams each homered in the 10-5 Yankee win.
Old Timer's Day is a great tradition held at Yankee Stadium every year. I attended the game on July 9, 2005, a game the Yankees lost to the Cleveland Indians 8-7, but missed the ceremonies and Old Timer's game.
In 2007, I attended the ceremonies, saw the Old Timer's game, and the scheduled game with amazing seats. One of my professors at my College knew how big of a Yankee fan I am, and offered me his tickets to the game. It was July 7, 2007. Yes, 7/7/07.
It was such an unbelievable day. We were behind home plate, so close to the action: a camera man came over to our section, and my sister, my dad, my cousin and I got on the diamond vision screen at Yankee Stadium. Not only that, but Jorge Posada's wife was sitting in the aisle across from us with Roger Clemens's wife. Roger's kids even started a little conversation with my sister, believe it or not. The Bombers beat the Clippers 4-0 in the Old Timer's game. Unfortunately, the 2007 Yankees lost 2-1 in 13 innings to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Chien-Ming Wang has been the winningst pitcher in pinstripes the past three years. I saw him pitch for the first time at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 2, 2006. He was dominant that night; my best friends and I even placed a bet on how many ground-ball outs Wang would get. I actually won with a guess of 15. Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada homered in the Yankees' 7-2 win over the Blue Jays that night.
The last game that I went to that I'd like to recall was on June 8, 2008. My dad got me tickets for my 21st birthday, box seats down the right field line. It was great to see Joba Chamberlain, the flame-throwing future of the Yankees pitch against the Royals in a 6-3 Yankee win. Bobby Abreu slaughtered an upper deck homer that day, and Jason Giambi went deep that day, too.
There has been so much history in Yankee Stadium. With a tear in my eye, I will tune into the action this weekend, and Sunday night we will all say goodbye to the Cathedral of Baseball.
We are all sad to see the current Stadium go, but I look forward--with happiness--to see the New Stadium next season, and I hope to make many more exciting memories in the new ballpark.