Sunday night, the New York Yankees and their adoring fans bid farewell to their precious surroundings, although for some, the book will never close on Yankee Stadium. The ‘ghosts’ that reside there from the great teams of Yankees past will make the short trip to the brand new ballpark across the way.
Monument Park will be transferred, and that is where the specter of the many Hall of Famers who wore pinstripes are believed to be housed. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Billy Martin, Casey Stengel, Roger Maris…do we need to continue? Having such a vast and illustrious history as the Bronx Bombers do is a rarity, indeed. It goes a long way and is perhaps the greatest of all time in sports.
Many people have said that they should have left it where it was. There are a few places around the major leagues that this holds true, and Yankee Stadium is always in the conversation, along with Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. While those two ballparks have had some renovation over the years, they still are very similar to what they have always been. Yankee Stadium’s refurbishment during the mid 1970s made it appear to be a totally different place.
It was closed for two years, and the Bombers had to play the 1974 and 1975 seasons over at Shea Stadium. When it was unveiled, the familiar limestone front was gone and the façade was nearly gone, placed only in the outfield. With the new stadium having both of these characteristics, it will look more like the original than its predecessor.
After 85 years, the lights have dimmed on Yankee Stadium, and the home team’s 7-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles was appropriate. Go out a winner, even though the team will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Closer Mariano Rivera threw the final pitch, only fitting for the great reliever. The question came up as to what he was going to do with the baseball.
“I’m going to give it to George,” he told reporters after the game, obviously referring to principal owner George Steinbrenner. “He deserves it. He’s the one that put this team together. He deserves it and more than that.”
54,610 fans packed the place on an emotional evening that was filled with a pre-game ceremony that included numerous invitees that included former Yankees and family members of others. There was also something that was reminiscent of a scene from “Field of Dreams,” with people posing as some of the players that the ghosts are believed to be.
Out came Babe Ruth, Casey Stengel, Allie Reynolds and others to join in the gala event and while that may seem a little odd, it was all in good fun. Perhaps they will reappear when the REAL closing ceremony occurs in November before the place is rendered a parking lot by the wrecking ball.
But even after that, the new Yankee Stadium will hold a special quality way before the first pitch is even thrown. If you believe in ghosts or not.