For those of you who are not aware, I have become a little bit of a Yankee fan over the years. If you know me at all, seen the back of my car, or know the name of my dog, you probably figured out that I have a liking for the Yankees. I was 8 years old when I first played for the Yankees in little league, and for the next 7 years, I played for the Yankees even though I would go through different leagues. I didn't ever get to choose what team I was on, but the fact I played for the Yankees over and over again, I considered it fate. To say the least, even though my baseball years are through, I still consider myself a Yankee.
This year is a major year for the Yankees. No they are not going to win the world series, they didn't even make the playoffs! This year however, is the last year of the old Yankee Stadium. Also known as "the house that Babe built," Yankee Stadium has been one of the historic baseball fields still standing in America. The Yankees have called it home since 1923, when Babe Ruth was still blasting home runs out of the park. He hit three in the first game ever in Yankee Stadium against the Boston Red Sox. Since then, the stadium has been through a couple minor and one major renovations. The memories and moments from that stadium however, will forever stay the same. There have been many many moments that baseball will never forget. So many great players, both Yankee and non-Yankee, have played on that field. The Yankees alone have had many memories from their own players there. From Babe's home run records,
to Roger Maris' home run records, many of the old school players seem most prominent. Lou Gehrig will forever be remembered by his "luckiest man alive" speech, Don Larsen being hoisted up into the air by Yogi Berra after his perfect game in the world series, Reggie Jackson's three home runs in the '77 World Series earning him the name "Mr. October," Joe Dimaggio for being the games most all-around player and America's hero, or one of Mickey Mantle's three MVP seasons.
There are many who deserve to be mentioned on this list, but some that are most important to me are those I can remember watching and routing for as a kid. Paul O'Neil was one of my baseball heroes as a kid, as well as Andy Pettit (who I got to see pitch a game this past May!!)and many of their teammates were Yankees that I remember. Bernie Williams, Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, Tino Martinez, and Derek Jeter to name a few. Jeter was, and is, probably the most influential baseball player in my life. When he was first on the Yankees I was only 12 years old and I thought he was the greatest. He played infield like me, he was smaller like me, and the thing I liked most about him is that he just went out and played. He didn't trash talk, he was a humble guy that played ball really well. This past season he set the record for most hits by a Yankee in Yankee Stadium, a couple weeks before it was gone. More recently the Yankees have produced big names like Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera (one of the greatest), Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada, and of course Alex Rodriguez who could possibly be one of the best players in the game. Granted he has had is fair share of controversy and scandal, but take all that away and you get a guy who has the potential of breaking the all time home run record and a solid defender at third base.. All baseball greats. The managers over the years have been great as well. Billy Martin would probably still be an off an on manager for the Yankees if he were still alive! Buck Showalter, Casey Stengel, Lou Piniella, Yogi Berra, and Joe McCarthy were all great managers for the Yankees, but most memorable to me is the great Joe Torre. He was one of the greatest in Yankee history leading the team to 4 world series titles, 12 consecutive playoff appearances, 6 pennants, and ten division titles. To me, Joe Torre is the Manager of the Yankees. He is a great man. Joe Giardi has big shoes to fill!
So as the "house that Babe built" is now the "house that Jeter closed," it is a sad day for many. The end of and era is tough for all followers, but this seems like part of people's life are leaving for good. The good news is, the Yankees are staying around, their new stadium is right across the road and is still named "Yankee Stadium." George Steinbrenner and his son Hank have done great things to bring the Yankees to where they are today, and I only hope to see the tradition of the Yankees live on for years to come. They are America's team. Go YANKEES!