Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reflection: Yankee Stadium

I guess it just so happens that Yankee Stadium is closing today, this same year that so many things in my life are coming to a close.

The first time I ever went to Yankee Stadium was an Old Timer's Day back in '94 or '95. I've been a back a number of times, including three times this season, probably a personal record.

I do have one personal connection with the stadium that is about to close, however, but interestingly it comes from the opponent's side. My brother was given a gift for his Bar Mitzvah that changed all of our lives. He was to be the pre-game bat boy for the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays on an August day in 2006. It was truly a day I'll never forget. We arrived at the stadium around 10 AM and were escorted into the visiting team's locker room, a sight most never see. Susan Waldman struts in, checking out the batting order, taking little note in the player's bare behinds near her. Some players are in the kitchen area, others are sitting around a table playing cards. My brother has since gone off to do his duty, something with preparing the bats and whatnot, but we remain in the locker room meeting some of the players and coaches.

Then comes the one moment that I'll never forget. We exit the locker room and make a left, then a right and look straight ahead. It's a long, upward-slanting hallway with a blinding light at the top. Upon reaching the end, I realize we're in the visiting team's dugout. I proceed up the three steps from the dugout to the feild to meet my mom who's there, waiting. After my foot lands on the dirt, I suddenly hop back into the dugout, until I actually realize that I can be on the field. Looking every direction, taking in each sight, and watching the Yankees take batting practice. Gradually I become more comfortable with the idea of being able to walk on the dirt and grass, and I eventually get about 3/4 of the way to the home team's dugout. My brother was given the opprotunity to meet his hero, Bernie Williams, the handshake of which encounter I have a great picture of. I also have a wonderful picture of Joe Torre hugging Don Zimmer, reuniting after a year of seperation.

But it's the few memories of that day, exiting the hallway into the blinding light, crossing the grass behind home plate and looking into the stands, and being escorted through a tunnel through the Yankee's clubhouse hallway, the same hallway which the team's greats have also passed through. are things I'll never forget.

To Yankee Stadium, you'll be missed, but thank you for providing a backdrop for a lifechanging experience.


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