A Final Goodbye to Yankee Stadium
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
September 22, 2008

“Like the homeruns that built it, it’s gone”- Yogi Berra

After 85 chock-full-of-history years, The Stadium finally closed its doors last night, and it went out with a bang. No, the Yankees are not going to make the playoffs, but last night was certainly something special. It was a night filled with memories, happiness, tears, and nostalgia. The night did start off rather cheesy, however, as the pre-game rituals began with some Field of Dreams knockoff when a bunch of “actors” standing in centerfield were announced as the first opening day lineup. It then moved to Old Timers day part deux.

The ceremony did get better as it went on. Bleacher Creatures went wild when Paul O’Neil was announced, Willie Randolph had yet another September slide when he slid into second base, and I couldn’t help but smile when a breath-taking shot of Yogi Berra standing alone behind home plate with screaming fans in the backdrop appeared on the television.

The Yankees cleverly saved the best for last, announcing Bernie Williams at the end. The not-yet retired centerfielder who had not returned to Yankee Stadium since his last season in pinstripes bowed with his hands on his heart in front 56,000+ fans as he was showered with love.  Finally, Julia Ruth, the 92 year-old daughter of Babe Ruth, capped off the festivities by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Unfortunately, there were a few people missing from Sunday night’s celebration. The Voice of God (AKA Bob Sheppard) was unable to make the game due to his poor health. He was able to put together a recording of the last lineup and promised the fans that he would be there for the opening of the new stadium. Principal Owner George M. Steinbrenner was unable to attend due to poor health as well. Amongst former players who were not there, Don Mattingly didn’t make it, and has not been there since Joe Torre was fired. The other player of note who did not make it was Roger Clemens. I did not expect Clemens to make a personal appearance, but the Yankees showed a reel of the greatest pitchers to wear the pinstripes, and Clemens was not shown in the video.

“I’m proud to hit the first homerun, God knows who will hit the last”- Babe Ruth

In case you’re wondering, there actually was a game that took place last night in which two of the stalwarts from the most recent dynasty were involved. Andy Pettitte, who has been horrible in the past couple of months, pitched well enough to win the game. Mariano Rivera did what he does best- closing out the game- by inducing a groundball of the bat of Brian Roberts. It would be wrong of me for not mention Jose Molina, who has forever etched his name in Yankee lore by hitting the last homerun in the history of Yankee Stadium.

After the game, players scrambled to scoop up some dirt.  They then all other gathered on mound while Jeter gave a heart-felt speech, saying his final good-bye and thanked all of the fans. I’m not the biggest Jeter fan as you all know, but even I could appreciate that. Following the speech, the Yankees took a Boggs-esque lap around the park waving and tipping their caps to the remaining fans.

I thoroughly enjoyed the final goodbye as a whole, and it was the first time in some time in which I looked forward to a Yankees program, due to their poor play this season. Although I haven’t witnessed too much history, I still have plenty of joyful moments involving The Stadium, and I can only hope the new stadium will be filled with just as many.

Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony resides in Queens, New York and can be reached at tony@baseballevolution.com.