When I booked my trip to visit Yankee Stadium for the first (and last) time, I didn't realize at the time that I would be attending the third to last game EVER at the House that Ruth Built. As a baseball fan, it was a place I had to see before the wrecking balls came calling. I had to see the mecca of Major League Baseball before it was nothing more than a parking lot, or whatever they're going to use the hallowed land for.
And I'm glad I did. There was nothing special about the game that night, a meaningless contest against the Baltimore Orioles that the Yankees pulled out 3-2. But being there, in that stadium, that night, was special. I just tried to take it all in, but really, it's impossible to take in 85 years of history in three hours. So I just watched the game, enjoyed my $9.50 beer and listened to the season ticket holders behind me commiserate with one another about how difficult Sunday's final game would be.
If you've been there, you know. If you haven't, let me tell you. The place is a dump. The aisles and walkways are so narrow that two waifish models would have a hard time passing each other, it smells, it's dirty, there's not enough concession stands for 35,000 people, let alone the 57,000 that pack the stadium on a nightly basis, and it's not exactly in the best of neighborhoods. And while the place oozes sights and smells that are surely EPA hazards, it also oozes something else. Yankee Stadium oozes with tradition and reeks of baseball's glorious past, not just the Yankees' glorious, storied past. The legends that played on that field - Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle are household names, not just in New York or with Yankee fans, but all across America. In much the same way Xerox is synonymous with copies and Coke is synonymous with soft drinks in general, the Yankees stand for baseball.
I look forward to visiting the new and improved Yankee Stadium and having a $10.50 beer, and hopefully watching my Angels send the Yankee faithful home disappointed. I also hope that one day, the stadium I call home, the Big A, will have a tenth as much history of that beautiful dump that will soon be demolished.