Bronx, NY—A day that is a favorite for many New York Yankees fans arrived again. For fans of the Bronx Bombers, regardless of age, Old Timers’ Day is a time in which they revert to their childhood memories of attending ballgames at Yankee Stadium. Each generation of fans has its favorite players and its most cherished memories. Representatives of teams dating back to the 1940’s through the current millennium were present, including Dr. Bobby Brown, who joined the Yankees in 1947, were back at Yankee Stadium on June 20th for the 69th annual festivities.
A special segment of the celebration was the salute to former Yankees captain Willie Randolph by the unveiling of the plaque in his honor that will be placed in Monument Park. Randolph wore the Yankees pinstripes for a quarter of a century. After being traded for the Pirates to the Yankees, Randolph was the second sacker from 1976-1988 and coach from 1994-2004. During his era with the club, Yankees were World Series champions in 1977, 1978, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.
After the Yankee alumni finished batting practice, the official ceremony began. Randolph was accompanied on the field by his mother, wife, four children, grandchildren, and four siblings. In a lengthy and emotional response to the plaque and other gifts from the Yankees, Randolph expressed sincere gratitude to his family members, teammates on the Yankees, Yankee ownership and what he called ‘the greatest fans in the world. I love you from the bottom of my heart.. You guys make me feel like Yankee royalty.”
In a post-ceremony press conference, Randolph explained, “I tried to gather my thoughts, but it was impossible. It was like I’m living a dream for four decades snd it still continues.’
In addition to the honor to Randolph, familiar faces from several decades were back to see their fans. A larger number of members of the Hall of Fame were present including Wade Boggs, Whitey Ford, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Joe Torre, Reggie Jackson, and Rickey Henderson.
The final player introduced was former pitcher and coach Mel Stottlemyre. His family and had already been introduced and he was then accompanied by Andy Pettitte for his trip out of the dugout. In what he termed, “The biggest surprise of my life”, Stottlemyre was asked to unveil a plaque that would be placed in monument Park. Although he worked for other major league organizations, the overwhelmed former Yankee later told reporters, “The pinstripes to me mean everything. It [Yankee Stadium] is like a second home to me.”
Randolph expressed his pleasure that the two greatest Yankees to wear number 30 were sharing the honor, “Being able to share this with him [Stottlemeyre] is like the icing on the cake. I’m proud to say we shared this together.”
The excitement and fun didn’t end, as many of the former Yankees played a short game to further rekindle memories.
The current Yankee team followed with a 14-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers, their fourth straight win.
Sharing the master of ceremonies duties were Yankees broadcasters Michael Kay and John Sterling. The two veterans, as always, did an extremely professional job.
It must also be mentioned that Vice President of Marketing for the Yankees Debbie Tymon and her excellent staff devoted months of effort to produce a day of happy memories for the fans in attendance and watching on TV and of very fine treatment to the guests returning to the field. Those who have attended many past old Timers’ Days commented that the one on Saturday was one of the most moving and maybe the best of all those great ceremonies.