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Tag Archives: Yankee Stadium Shea Stadium New York Baseball 2009 2008

I have been a baseball fan since I was eight years old. The first game I ever saw in person was at Yankee Stadium in the summer of 1959. I saw the Yankees play a scheduled doubleheader against the Kansas City Athletics, Yes!  I said KANSAS CITY Athletics. And yes I said scheduled doubleheader, does anyone under thirty remember scheduled doubleheaders? or for that matter K.C. Athletics?  I also remember that Mickey Mantle hit a home run that day, and what I remember as well was my friend’s Dad taking us home after the first game on the 4 train back to Brooklyn, I walked in the door and my Dad said “why are you home? there is still a game going on?” I had no answer , and my Dad was pissed, rightfully so.

My first visit to Shea Stadium I simply cannot recall. I do remember  coming to Shea  on the 7 train and seeing Sandy Koufax pitch that year at Shea, and that was a thrill. The most fun I remember from  1964, when Shea  was a brand new stadium was watching the Pittsburgh Pirates with Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Donn Clendenon and the San Francisco Giants with Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda putting on batting practice displays that were beyond awesome. If the Mets won a game when I was there, that was a bonus not expected.

Thus began my history of time spent in both ball parks. 

I saw the Yankees beat the K.C. Royals, yes K.C. again, in the fifth game of the 1978 American League Championship Series. Being there when a pennant is won is an experience one does not forget, and a memory worth savoring. And savor it, I do.

Being  Mets fan, I have more memories visiting Shea. One of them clearly is not baseball related, I saw the Beatles in 1966 , repeat “saw” not heard.  The teenage girls were beyond insane, thus pissing off us real rock and roll fans who were waiting to hear songs from Revolver. I remember The Ronettes being there and singing Be My Baby, I actually heard the warmup bands.

I saw the Mets clinch the Eastern Division of the National League pennant in September of 1969 on a game ending double play by soon to be legendary Yankee manager Joe Torre, and knocking out Hall Of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton. The fans, all 59,000 of us it seemed, stormed the field and tore that place apart. It was an amazing experience for a Mets fan on the way to a memorable World Series triumph after finishing in ninth place the year before, pure legendary stuff. I saw Joe Namath, the greatest of all New York Jets play there many times, including his last game as a Jet, a victory over Tampa. I saw The Who at Shea, another thrill. I watched Len Dykstra hit a come from behind home run in the teams last at bat in game three of the 1986 National League Championship Series on the way to a second World Series. There are more memories, but it is now time to look forward.

As we approach the last year of these two baseball stadiums, I have some thoughts on the effect on these two baseball teams going forward in new ball parks. I may not find universal agreement on my thoughts, especially from New York Yankee fans, but here goes:

The Yankees new home will be called Yankee Stadium, it is near Yankee Stadium, a short blast by Mickey Mantle would reach the new one from the old one. BUT, it is NOT the same place. Babe did not play there, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Berra, Munson and Whitey never played there, Bobby Murcer, never played there, nor sadly got to broadcast a game there, Mel Allen and Phil Rizzuto never played or announced a game there, BUT you lucky Yankee fans will have John Sterling there, <cough>. The point, if you cannot tell is… this place will never have the same aura as the real Yankee Stadium, it will not awe or intimidate  young players, or veteran players, for that matter as the old ballpark did. This is a fact. The great edge of playing home games in the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium are over after this year. Gone! Kaput! Do not let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. It is sad but true. Yes! The new place will look spiffy. It will contain Yankee players like Jeter and Stray  Rod. It will have new players come along, but it will not have the same “feel” I  experienced I when I walked in all those years ago. I also believe this will somewhat diminish the legend of the Yankees as time goes on. It just will not be the same.

The Mets will also bid farewell to Shea Stadium after this year. Few will even care.I went over some of the reason Shea was memorable.. God knows Boston Red Sox fans have nightmares of this place. But true also is , Shea was a bastard step child to Yankee Stadium. There is no way to say it nicely, it was among the worst baseball stadiums I have ever visited, the only stadium, I found as charmless and lacking is U.S. Cellular Field, the current home of the Chicago White Sox , it is newer, but  crap nonetheless.

The New York Mets have a new stadium coming in 2009 called Citi Field, Yes! another corporate named sports edifice,thankfully the Yankees did not allow that too, but that is a discussion for another day. From all reports, and from my own observation this will be a beautiful baseball stadium, it will be a major upgrade over Shea in many ways, First off it is “wanted” by everyone involved, from players to the  fans. It will have young and talented players like David Wright, Jose Reyes and Mike Pelfrey all under 25 years old, with stardom on it’s way. It is an opportunity for the other baseball team in New York to cease control of the “future” of baseball in this town. Tom Seaver, the great vineyard owner, and best pitcher this town has ever had notwithstanding, this has mostly been a Yankee town.

I submit here, that with the demise of The “real” Yankee Stadium,  will be an  end for the Yankees in more ways then one.