Yankee Stadium: A Father Son Journey

It was the final year of the house that Ruth built (1923-2008).

It was a warm Saturday in April, 2008 for the opening weekend at Yankee Stadium. The Bronx Bombers were starting the final year at the iconic landmark that not only had been the home to the greatest sports franchise in the world but the inspiration for dreams for nine decades. With the spirits of Ruth, Dimaggio, Mantle, Maris, Howard, Dickey, Mercer, Martin, Rizzuto and so many more in the air, a game at the Stadium was so much more than nine innings of entertainment; it was a testimony the the purity of competition, family, patriotism and legend.

As my father and I spend entered the subway in Manhattan after spending the morning with my brother, we could feel the anticipation as we moved quickly from the underground passageway to that famous above ground stop adjacent to the stadium in the Bronx on East 161st Street. The staleness in the air was subsided by the vision of men and women with Yankee Jerseys cheering and talking as the journey for one final World Series at Yankee Stadium was underway.

As we funneled out of the subway and set eyes on that vision, one can only feel a sense of honor. I know there are seven wonders of the world but if you grew up in the tri-state area, this was one of them. For my father who was a New Yorker, born and raised, this had to mean much more. This is a man who rarely misses a game. 162 up and 162 down. It could be TV or radio but he is there for his Bronx Bombers.

Vendors selling programs, the smell of hot pretzels and beer and one hour to game time. We finally got in and trekked up the ramp to our seats behind home plate. The grass never looked greener. Monument park was a vision with permanent etchings of the achievements of the greatest players in team history and Sam Shepard’s voice over the speakers.

Just a few years earlier we had taken a tour of the stadium, bowing to the immortal words of Joe D as we entered. We walked on the outfield grass, viewed monument park, stood in the radio booth and just absorbed history as we sat in the locker room seeing Jeter next to Ruth and A-Rod next to Gehrig. Words cannot properly express the feelings that rushed through my head (and I grew up a Mets fan). This family commitment has also led us to Legends Field in Tampa, Florida for spring training for a number of games under the sun. This is indeed a family affair.

I remember the game vividly. We browsed through the calendar that each of us received at the front gate and glued ourselves to each pitch knowing that in seven months, on one undermined day, the final game ever would be played in Yankee Stadium. It was not until two years later that the stadium was finally taken down, but when the final pitch came, that was the end. That was our goodbye.

We even got a free subway ride back to Manhattan. What a bonus.

Buildings, stadiums and landmarks come and go. Change is part of life and we must accept that life moves forward. What we take with us are the memories. This wasn’t as dramatic as losing the Brooklyn Dodgers to California as my mother would say, but losing the stadium was losing a piece of my childhood and innocence. As a child, we look to our heroes to help us define who we are and who we want to be. I still remember meeting Bucky Dent at a mall in Jersey, pretending I was Dave Winfield or Willie Randolph while playing at the park and collecting baseball cards til I turned blue.

Baseball is America’s past time. It is also a foundation for family. It has and continues to bring fathers and son’s together uniting on Saturday afternoons to cheer on our teams. Last year, I got a call that I got approved to take on a new challenge at work, one that I was so proud of and worked very hard to develop and justify. Where was I at the time I received the call? I was at the Yogi Berra Museum and Historical Center with my Dad watching the history of baseball evolve before our eyes.

It doesn’t take much to create a lifetime memory between a father and son. Some are meaningful and some are forever stored in the memory bank of our minds. On one warm Saturday afternoon in 2008, my father and I sat together overlooking a wonder of all sport and shared a moment that we will both remember always.

From my very first bike ride in the snow getting the original pack of baseball cards that started my childhood obsession and flipping cards to see what my brother and I would end up with to smelling the grass while the young stars warm up, baseball continues to be a very important part of my life and no thought of baseball ever goes by without the thought of sharing it with my dad.

Thank you Dad for the memories secure in my thoughts and the ones to come in the future..


Philip Humber throws a perfect game – Thank You Philip for letting us witness perfection

On April 21, 2012, the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history was thrown by 29 year old Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox in Seattle against the Mariners.

The perfect game is the single greatest achievement in all of sport. A single pitcher faces 27 batters and dismisses each and every one. No walks, no hits, no errors, no runs. Pure perfection. To add to the drama of the moment; in the bottom of the ninth with two men out he faced his third 3-2 count of the afternoon. One pitch too high, too low, too outside and the perfect game was ruined. At another moment, he was down 3-0 and fought back to conquer his batter. As I imagine millions witness, the final out was in the highest level of drama as the strikeout got away from the catcher and a throw was needed to first to complete the mission to greatness.

It is moments like this that everyone comes together and routes for the lonely man on top of the dirt mound to achieve his moment of perfection. Now the most trended item on Twitter and soon to be spread around the world, this is a moment that will bring tears to young men, fathers and even a few young ladies.

In an iconic manner, the 21st perfect game of all time was achieved on April 21, 2012.

Philip Humber Throws a Perfect Game – ESPN Blog

Philip Humber Statistics

As Vin Scully said in For The Love of the Game, “it is the loneliest spot in the world.” It is the pitching mound, where one man, surrounded by eight others controls the destiny of a game. They must become a general in the battle, using strategy and research to understand their opponents. It is a one on one battle for an entire game. On a rare sunny afternoon in the Western corner of the United States, one man stood alone, took all his childhood dreams and made them a reality. It is these moments that make legends and these legends that makes us all believe we can accomplish anything.

Today, I was one of many that rallied for an unknown. It was a moment where I witnessed history and become a believer in the pure competition and sportsmanship that is baseball and life.

Philip Humber, congratulations on perfection!

Happy Birthday and Happy July 4th George…Thank you for resurrecting a city and a franchise

On this the Fourth of July, we gather with family and friends and reflect on the freedoms that so many brave men and women fought eight years for so that we may see the sun rise and set under the auspice of a free nation. These freedoms hold a greater truth as they present us all with the gift of free will to choose. We are a nation built on the ability to govern, live, love and share in the compassion and well being of others. This is a truly meaningful day that should be celebrated 365 days a year. Under a crisp blue sky and later showering the darkness with all the colors of the rainbow, remember the gift our forefathers gave us and keep them in your memories.

If history has a way of reminding us of the momentous moments, remember that on July 4th, 1826, within hours of each other, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two of most prominent advocates of freedom passed away. 175 years later, we see reminders of them and others in our everyday lives.

Alas, when we think of America’s pastime and the true symbols of our land, we think of baseball.

“You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too.” ~Roy Campanella

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” ~Rogers Hornsby

“Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.” ~Ted Williams

It is the anticipation you feel when winter ends and spring training begins. The ache in your stomach waiting on the first pitch of the season. The sound of the bat hitting the ball. The feeling of teamwork when a runner rounds the bases to be met by 26 others. There is nothing greater than gathering at the park, smelling the fresh mowed grass and seeing your idols in clean uniforms run to their respective positions.

On January 3, 1973, George Steinbrenner, during a difficulty recessionary period in New York City and a time when the mighty New York Yankees were sliding, bought the team for ten million dollars. During that time, he helped the Yankees win 7 World Series Titles, 11 pennants, 16 Eastern Division Titles, a new spring training facility in Tampa, Florida, made the NY Yankees the most sold sports merchandise name in the world and brought a city back to life. With names like Jackson, Munson, Hunter, Cerone, Dent, Mercer, Rivers, Mattingly, O’Neil, Jeter, Pettite, Clemens, Williams, Ford, and A-Rod, the NY Yankees redefined the meaning of baseball and shed new light on the greatest city in the world. When George passed away on July 13, 2010, just prior to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, a nation wept. Typically the loss of an owner does not reach iconic status but George Steinbrenner was much more than a businessman. He was a father figure, a visionary and a man that believed that baseball is the end all to the greater good. He saw childhood dreams become a reality and made people believe once again in the power of baseball.

For that, we thank you and remember you always.

On this July 4th, as we raise the flag of freedom, let us not forget America’s past-time and the impact Mr. George Steinbrenner had and continues to have on the game of baseball.