Baseball has been a big part of my life for many years now. I fell in love with the game as a spectator in Yankee Stadium back in 1998, and even tried my hand at playing it, only to realise that it’s a lot harder than it looks & that the only part of playing the game that I was actually good at was letting my teammates down.
Being a Yankees fan for the past 15 years has brought with it plenty of memorable moments, mostly in the early days: hearing Frank Sinatra belt out New York, New York on my first visit to Yankee Stadium in July 1998; watching, albeit on TV, the Yankees sweep the Braves in the 1999 World Series, the first time I’d watched a complete live World Series; being there for Sunday Night Baseball & Pedro vs. Roger (May 29th 2000); catching a fly ball in the stands off the bat of Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez in the 4th inning of a game vs. the As (May 30th 2000); being in a bar in the Bronx watching the 2nd game of the 2001, post-9/11 World Series and seeing this live (October 28th, 2011).
I’m not as informed a baseball fan now as I used to be (I find the game less likeable these days) but I do keep a check on the goings-on as best I can, especially with regard to the Yankees, and last night provided the latest special Yankee memory, Mariano Rivera’s last appearance at Yankee Stadium. For as long as I’ve been a Yankee fan Mo has been around and his farewell last night was a classy act befitting an all-round classy person.
I took the following picture on a recent rainy, chilly July night in Yankee Stadium, my first visit to the new Yankee Stadium which opened in 2009.
It was a Friday night game, the first of a 3-game weekend series against the Twins &, as it transpired, the only game of the three that the Yankees would win. During a 73-minute rain delay I paid a visit to the museum, the centrepiece of which is a so-called Ball Wall featuring hundreds of balls autographed by past and present Yankees. When the game resumed it was late – after 11pm – & while it had stopped raining the conditions were still miserable & the stadium was sparsely populated. I was tempted to leave, knowing I’d be back to see the following two afternoon games. But I didn’t and hanging around meant I got to peer into the Yankees bullpen to see Mo warm-up during the 8th inning, I got to see his Enter Sandman routine one last time, & then I got to see him notch his 30th save of the season. In doing so he reached the 30-save plateau for the 15th time in his glittering career, surpassing Trevor Hoffman for the most such seasons all-time. It was pretty special & just one more Yankee moment to remember.