Farewell to the Cathedral!
Oct. 10 —On the eve of the autumnal equinox, the Bronx Bombers took one final bow at their iconic quarters north of the Harlem River. Sadly, there will be no fall games at this acclaimed residence ever again, classic or otherwise.
And now the Yankees tell us that the Stadium is officially closed. The events scheduled for November to mark the end of the line for the house that Ruth built, have been cancelled. Originally the event, which would have recognized Yankee Stadium's non baseball past, was to be a fundraiser for the Baseball Assistance Team. Now the Yankees will donate $500,000 to the charity.
"The Yankees were considering having a charitable event at Yankee Stadium," the Yanks' media relations director, said Tuesday. "However, the Yankees realize that the final event at Yankee Stadium should be a baseball game, which in fact took place on Sept. 21, 2008." And with that, she fades into all the glory of the past.
That means that the final game played September 21st, which featured both a pregame remembrance and a post-game celebration, did indeed mark the end of an era. It also means that Joe Torre, who was not present for the final game, will never hear the roar of the crowd again at the old ball ground. And that's a shame.
In the years since my first trip to 161st Street and River Avenue, I've come to love the Yankees. Joe Torre had a lot to do with that. Having grown up a Cardinal's fan I had loved Joe as a player and again as a manager in St. Louis. While Joe never experienced the success he deserved in St. Louis, he certainly did with the Yankees.
In New York, at the helm of the Yankees Joe Torre became the winning-est manager in club history and delivered playoff appearances in all 12 years of his tenure. He took his clubs to the playoffs more times consecutively than any Yankee manager and won more consecutive World Series games (14) than anyone ever. That will be an incredibly hard record to ever top.
For a club that measures success by titles, pennants, and championships, Torre stands shoulder to shoulder with Huggins, McCarthy, Stengel, and Martin, with 10 divisional titles, six American League pennants, and four World Championships, which extended the Yankees' championship total to 26.
The only stain on the final game at the ole ball yard in the Bronx, was the conspicuous absence of the team’s former skipper. It’s understandable that he wasn’t on the field (as his Dodgers were fighting to make the playoffs), but what a shame the Steinbrenners Jr. couldn’t ensure that Torre's name was at least uttered on the night the great Stadium celebrated its glorious past. The club implied the next day, when questioned about the slight, that it would be corrected at the closing ceromonies. Alas, that is now not to be.
So, in this final year of fabled Yankee Stadium, we came to the occasion of the final game not knowing it would be the final event as well. As great as the night was I admit that I am disapointed that Torre, who skippered over 15 percent of those World Championship clubs, will be denied one final bow in the Cathedrial.
But, inspite of that, it was indeed a magical night. When the Yankees opened the stadium in 1923 Babe Ruth hit the first home run that very day. On its last night, his 92-year-old DAUGHTER threw out the ceremonial first pitch. So many Yankee luminaries gathered together to say goodbye to the grand ol' dame of the Bronx that you needed a scorecard for the legends. Even the Oriole's players were collecting dirt from the infield and asking for autographs.
Yogi, Whitey, and the Stick, were present, as were Jackson, Chambliss and Guidry. The Goose was there, as was Catfish Hunter's widow. Also present were Martin, Mantle, Maris, and Munson's boys, all representing their incomparable fathers. And the Immortals—Don Larson, David Wells, and David Cone—the only three pitchers from the same team to throw perfect games.
This gathering of exalted Yankee stars is likely to never be seen together again.
WHAT a place, this temple of baseball in the Bronx. What a celebration on the last day of worship at the altar of baseball’s most cherished shrine.
Yankee Stadium has indeed been the cathedral of sport.
They may tear down the sacred sanctuary, but this hallowed ground will be forever revered.
Across the street, a new residence rises for the praise, adoration, and exultation of its inhabitants, but the site of “The House that Ruth Built” will always be venerated by those who love and follow baseball.
Yankee Stadium will continue to be a place of adulation, even if only in our hearts, our minds, and our memories.