Bronx, NY—Yankee Stadium was the host venue for the fifth annual installment of the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday afternoon. Representatives of two of the major college athletic conferences, the Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), met on the newly constructed gridiron in the iconic home of the Yankees on 161st Street in the Bronx.
The weekend contest between the Penn State Nittany Lions (7-6) and Boston College Eagles (7-6) was their 24th meeting The Nittany Lions won 19 of the first 20 games, but lost the latest three meetings until their win on Saturday. The Eagles have never played at Yankee Stadium, but did play five games against Fordham University at The Polo Grounds, the former home of baseball’s New York Giants, which is one subway stop on the D line south of Yankee Stadium. The three previous appearances by Penn State at Yankee Stadium were in the 1920’s.
To one player on Penn State, Yankee Stadium and New York City were very familiar, Corner back Jordan Lucas lived in New Rochelle, 20 minutes from the Stadium. He spoke with joy when he recounted his experiences of coming to Yankee Stadium when he was a boy, “I have a lot of memories here with my pop. I actually caught a baseball hit by Derek Jeter, my boyhood idol, when I was seven. I also caught a ball hit by Torii Hunter, when he was on Minnesota.”
Lucas was elated that he would be using the Yankees’ home locker room and hoped someone would point out the locker used by his favorite player, Jeter. Later he found out that kicker Sam Ficken used Jeter’s old locker. Some of the Jeter magic must have been present as Ficken’s successful extra-point kick in overtime ended the contest with a one point Penn State win.
The college junior, who grew up watching baseball games at Yankee Stadium, was astounded to be playing football on Saturday in that same facility, “It’s something that I would never have imagined-Yankee Stadium as a football field.”
The 21 year old expressed happiness about playing a Bowl game so near to his home and expected about 20 family members and close friends to attend the contest. He was saddened not to be able to spend Christmas with his family as he had to stay in the team hotel and attend functions to promote the game.
On-the-field, Lucas has contributed to one of the top defensive units in the nation. He saw little playing time during his freshman year, but started every game in his sophomore and junior seasons. He made 123 tackles in those combined two seasons and was selected as honorable mention All- Big Ten in each of those seasons.
The last seven of the tackles, five unassisted, were made at Yankee Stadium and contributed to the exciting, 31-30 overtime victory of the Nittany Lions over the Eagles before a sold-out crowd of 49,012.
The very articulate and personable college student is majoring in communication and has realistic plans to be a broadcaster in the future.