Sunday, July 06, 2008

A Secret...No More

My day started like anyone else's. Except when I woke up, I was going to have a great day.

After I won a $100 StubHub gift certificate on this site, I went and looked for tickets. The weekends would have been best for me since I didn't have to leave work, and I could prep myself for the game. I saw that the Red Sox were coming to town and decided, that's the game for me. This was back in December and I knew it would be a long wait before I get to actually attend the game. I didn't care.

April rolls around and I receive my ticket in the mail and immediately show it off to my family and friends. It was placed on my cork board so I can see it everyday. Then the day finally came.

Now before I continue with the rest of my story, I am going to let everyone in on a secret of mine. I have been a Yankees fans since the late 80s. They were a horrible team at the time, but I was a child and didn't know about that. So, 25 years I wandered this planet, being a huge fan of the Yankees...never attended a game. I have been to Shea Stadium before this. My sister, who's not even a fan, attended a game before me. But now it was my turn.

I live on Long Island, so the best way to get to the stadium is by train, and the hop on the subway. Most of you can relate to that, and I wasn't about to pay for parking and get lost in the city.

I was surprised to see how crowded the train was so early in the morning, so I found a car that had a few guys dressed in Yankees gear and asked to sit with them. We made small talk, and I was offered a beer, three actually. So here I was, getting trashed at noon, talking about the Yankees, and explaining to them that his was my first game. They gave me a few tips on where to go, and invited me to go to the bowling lanes with them and continue my drinking.

We arrived at Penn Station and walked over to Herald Square in the rain. It became quite obvious that we weren't the only ones attending the game as I saw more people in Yankees gear, and the occasional Red Sox fan quietly walking along trying not to be noticed. Kinda hard when your wearing bright red.

Once we got to Herald Square, we jumped on the subway to 161st street, Yankee Stadium. As I go off the train and walked up the stairs, the entire street was in pandemonium. Yankees fans, Red Sox fans, vendors selling, cops controlling, hot dogs cooking, bottles opening. It was a wild atmosphere and I became part of it. We headed over to the bowling lanes, had a few more beers, and waiting around until the stadium doors opened.

After a few minutes before the doors opened, we split off and went to our respective gates. I was going through gate four, right at the front of the stadium. Some people must be blind because one of the two gates were crowded, and the other gate right next to it was bare. Same gate, two different entrances So yeah, me being the observative one, went to the less crowded gate and was sent right in. The one good thing that I am happy about was that instead of ripping the stub off the ticket, they would scan it, and send you in.

The first thing I wanted to do before I even attempted to walk to my seat was going to Monument Park. I walked down to the field level seats and headed towards the park. But it was a slow walk. Instead of rushing to the park, my eyes were fixated on the field. Since it had been raining earlier in the day, the tarp was still on the field. But for the first time ever, I saw the Yankees logo behind home plate, the frieze on the far wall, the timer counting down the home games left, the foul poles, the dugouts, and the bullpen in the distance. Truly an amazing site.

I continued along the field seats and was escorted back inside so I can get in line for Monument Park. I asked a security attendant where I can go to get to the park, but instead of giving me directions, she told me what the park was about. I already knew what it was about, I just needed directions. I left her and headed towards left field and came across a crowd and a man giving everyone directions to the park line.
Longest line ever.
It snaked all the way to the top of the stadium and had about an hour wait. I was thinking about leaving the line initially since the park was going to close soon, but I stuck it out and got lucky. After waiting and waiting, I finally reached the park.
I saw the long line of retired numbers and read a few of the inscriptions on the plaques below them, and quickly headed to the main park of the park. Once you walk in, three monuments greet you, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Miller Huggins. To the left was Mickey Mantle, and the right, Joe DiMaggio. On the wall there were the other Yankees greats including the first owners, and the three popes that served mass. And the most fitting ones, Mel Allen, and Bob Shepard, two of the most famous voices in Yankees history.

As I was walking towards my section, I remember my impromptu posse that I met on the train recommend the Italian sausage. So I stopped at Premio's and ordered one with onions and peppers. It's a good thong they recommended that, and now I recommend it to you too. Very delicious and I should have bought more.

My seat was pretty high, but I had a great view of the entire field. I began to look around again imaging where the greatest home runs hit landed. Left field for Aaron Boone, right field for Roger Maris, and the black seats that A-Rod has taken a liking to. I even tried imagining Babe Ruth hitting one of his blasts and rounding the bases, and both Mantle and DiMaggio taking the field. Nearly 100 years of history, and I had about three hours to absorb it all.

The game started off great with Mike Mussina starting of a bit shaky, but getting out of the jams he put himself in. As for the Yankees offense, not any better. They did get runners on, and the only run that scored was Giambi bumbling around from second and slid past Varitek for the first run of the game.

Where I was sitting, it was hard to see the players, but I did make out Giambi's mustache, and Youkilis' steroid induced goatee.

Through out the game I saw the grounds crew dance to “YMCA”, Cotton Eye Joey attempting to dance to the song he is named after, and listened in to “Take me out to the Ballgame”. The only reason why I listened in was because I had forgot about it. I was too busy recalling history to even realize the game had reached the 7th inning stretch. During this time the jumbotron showed a celebrity fan sitting on the field level seats. Former mayor and talk show host Jerry Springer. He help up a Yankees hat and was welcome with a "Jerry, Jerry!" chant.

The game was headed to the 9th inning, Yankees up 2-0, and then “Enter Sandman” blared over the speakers. Everyone was up on their feet giving Mariano Rivera a healthy welcoming entrance; myself included. The night before the game, I had hoped for a close game solely because I wanted to see Rivera close out the game. Then things got interesting.

Rivera was very shaky allowing a hit, hit Manny Ramirez, gave up an RBI single to Mike Lowell, followed up by another hit by pitch to Youkilis. Bases loaded, no outs, 2-1 ballgame. Rivera struck out Coco Crisp, Varitek popped up, and Lugo struck out to end the ball game. The stadium went wild, Boston fans were silent. Which was a good thing because I was sitting next to one and he was annoying as hell. It was getting late in the game, and you can clearly hear him getting more and more upset. He even started yelling at the jumbotron saying that the Yankees were using old clips in their rally bit. Plus he though the black seats were sold on night games when in fact those seats are rarely sold if at all.

After Lugo struck out, Sinatra's, ”New York, New York” rang out and a good portion of the stadium sang along. Me, I listened to every sound, cheer, and tune.
I stayed around a little bit to take in as much as I can before heading out. I was given a tip to head out the game by right field, so I made my way there. It was very crowded and I started to think, that was a bad tip, only to realize I went the wrong way and was exiting out of left field.
I made my way out and walked around to the bat to meet up with my posse. I never did find them and noticed a lot of people were standing by the barricades looking at something. Naturally this sparked my interest and looked as well.
It didn't take long to figure out that they were staring at the players parking lot and catching a last glimpse of them leaving. I saw Johnny Damon speed off in his Porsche, Bobby Abreu driving by giving us a goofy smile, Rivera and Joba Chamberlain (Audi with New Jersey plates, I'm going to track him down) gave a little wave, and one player was picked up by a limo. It must have been Madonna picking up A-Rod.
After the players left, I headed inside the Yankees clubhouse store and bought a Final Season pennant, and the golden Home Run Derby baseball. It's not real gold, or gold paint, or anything that resembles gold. Just plain dyed horsehide.

After all the activities for the day slowed down, I made my way back to Long Island.

I had experienced the greatest day since arriving in New York. I can now say I have been to Yankee Stadium and experienced everything game day has to offer. The field, Monument Park, ninth inning drama, Rivera, and of course a victory.

So there you have it. My secret is out, and it's no longer a secret.
Oh, by the way, I'm going again to see the All-Star Futures Game.


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