Notre Dame and Army will attempt to “wake up the echoes” Saturday when they renew their historic college football rivalry at Yankee Stadium.
The Fighting Irish and the Black Knights no longer dominate American sports. And they’ll be playing at the new Yankee Stadium, not the original Stadium that was the site for 22 meetings between 1925 and 1969.
But the 50th meeting between Notre Dame and Army is hardly your garden variety regular season game either. The game and the venue hark back to an era –from the Roaring ’20s to post World War II — when the Notre Dame-Army game captivated the nation.
The Irish and Cadets staged their first Yankee Stadium meeting in 1925, a game Army dominated, 27-0.
Three years later at the Stadium, the teams were tied 0-0 at the half when Notre Dame’s legendary coach Knute Rockne inspired his charges with the most famous halftime speech in football history. That day Rockne invoked the words of George Gipp, one of the great players in ND history who died of strep-throat infection in 1920 at the age of 25.
‘Win One for The Gipper’
“Some time when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper.”
The Irish did just that, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the second half to beat the Cadets, 12-6
Notre Dame dominated the series at Yankee Stadium from then through the mid ‘40s, winning 12 times and tying twice in 15 games.
Army, which was ranked #1 in the polls and finished unbeaten, turned the tables on Notre Dame in 1944 and 1945, whipping Notre Dame 59-0 and then 48-0 at Yankee Stadium.
That set up one of the most famous college football games in history in 1946, #1 Army vs. #2 ND, aka The Game of the Century. Despite predictions of a high scoring game, the two powers played to a scoreless tie before 74,121 at the Stadium. The win ended Army’s 26-game winning streak and the Irish won the national championship when they beat USC 26-6 on the final weekend of the season, while Army edged Navy 21-18.
The Game of the Century
The 1946 Notre Dame-Army game featured four Heisman Trophy winners in uniform Doc Blanchard (1945) and Glenn Davis (1946) of Army and Johnny Lujack (1947) and Leon Hart (1949) of Notre Dame) and 12 members of the College Football Hall of Fame.
One newspaper reported that fans were paying scalpers up to $250 for tickets with a $1 face value. “If Yankee Stadium had a million seats,” Army athletic director Biff Jones said before the game, “we would fill it for this game. I have never seen anything like it.”
After meeting every year since 1919, Army decided to end the annual series following the 1947 season because they felt it was becoming too one-sided in favor of the Irish. The game was played in South Bend for the first time and the Irish won, 27-7.
Notre Dame and Army played one last game at Yankee Stadium in 1969, with the Irish winning easily 45-0. Overall Notre Dame won 14 of those 22 games in Yankee Stadium. Army won five. Three finished in a tie
Through the decades the teams have met infrequently, with Army’s last win coming in 1958. Most of the games have been contested at neutral sites, such as Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, the Polo Grounds and Shea Stadium in New York, Soldier Field in Chicago, Philadelphia’s JFK Memorial Stadium and Giants Stadium in New Jersey. Notre Dame leads the series 37-8-4.
Extra Points: The first Notre Dame-Army matchup in 1913 is generally regarded as the game that put the Irish on the college football map. In that game, Notre Dame revolutionized the forward pass in a stunning 35-13 victory on the Plain at West Point. Irish quarterback Gus Dorias passed for 242 yards that day, including a 25-yard touchdown pass to a young end by the name of Knute Rockne.
The 1924 game at the Polo Grounds provided the setting for the most celebrated lead in the history of sportswriting.
After Notre Dame defeated Army 13-7, Grantland Rice of the New York World Telegram wrote, “Outlined against a blue, gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden.”
Notre Dame and Army met most recently in 2006, when the Irish pounded the Black Knights 41-9 at Notre Dame Stadium.
Related Blogs: The 10 Best Football Games at Yankee Stadium
Back in high school, senior year, I was caught by our English teacher, doodling on a notepad. When Mr. Naversen pinched me, I was forced to show him and my classmates my artwork — drawings of each of the fields where our football team played. My masterpiece was headlined “Where They Play.”
Last week, while enjoying the luxury of the Fox suite at the first game in the new stadium in New Jersey yet to be named — watching the Giants rally to beat Carolina 31-18 — my thoughts drifted back to those teenage days. What would a Giants “Where They Play” look like?
So I hit the history books to find out.
Throughout their long and illustrious history, the Giants have called six stadiums home — the Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium, the Yale Bowl, Shea Stadium, Giants Stadium and the new stadium in the Meadowlands.
The team was formed in 1925 and shared the Polo Grounds, left, with the New York baseball Giants from that season until they moved across the Harlem River to the larger Yankee Stadium for the start of the 1956 season.
The Giants finished 8-4 in that inaugural 1925 season in the NFL, but lost their home opener to the Frankford Yellow Jackets 14-0. Some 30 years later, in their final game at the Polo Grounds in November of 1955, the Giants rallied to tie the Cleveland Browns 35-35 on a late touchdown pass from Charlie Conerly to Frank Gifford.
Moving to Yankee Stadium
Following three straight road games, the Giants christened their new Yankee Stadium home in 1956 with a 38-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Giants went on to win their third NFL championship that year when they whipped the Chicago Bears 47-7 at Yankee Stadium.
In 1973, the Giants announced plans to move to a new stadium in New Jersey for the 1976 season. At the same time, the city of New York began a two-year renovation of Yankee Stadium, below, after the 1973 baseball season. The Giants were allowed to play their first two games of the 1973 season at Yankee Stadium before moving to a new location.
The Giants tied the Eagles 23-23 in their final game at Yankee Stadium that fall, before moving into the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Conn., for the rest of the 1973 season and the full 1974 campaign. The Giants won just one game in the Yale Bowl in two years, finishing 2-11-1 in 1973 and 2-12 the following year.
In 1975 the Giants called Shea Stadium home along with the Jets, Mets and Yankees, marking the only time in history that two baseball and two football teams shared the same stadium. The Giants won two games at home en route to a 5-9 record, including a 28-14 victory against Archie Manning and the Saints in their final game at Shea in December.
After starting the 1976 season with four straight road losses, the Giants opened the new Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, with a 24-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants called the Meadowlands home for 34 seasons and won three Super Bowls in that span. The Carolina Panthers beat the Giants 41-9 in the final game at Giants Stadium on December 27, 2009.
Lou Gehrig making his famous “Luckiest Man” address to a packed house in Yankee Stadium, 71 years ago this Fourth of July.
George Steinbrenner, a Yankee Doodle Dandy, was born on The Fourth of July. The Yankee owner turned 80 this year.
Three years before George was born, the famed 1927 Yankees entertained the second place Washington Senators before 74,000 fans in a holiday doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
Any notions the Nats entertained for staying in the race were quickly shattered that afternoon. The Yankees swept Washington, 12-1 and 21-1, opened up an 11 1/2 game lead in the American League, and never looked back in winning their second World Championship.
In the opener the Yankees collected 18 hits, including four by third baseman Joe Dugan (a Holy Cross man), and home runs by Lou Gehrig and catcher Pat Collins. George Pipgras pitched a complete game for the win.
Fourth of July Fireworks
But the Yankees were just warming up. In the nightcap, they pounded out 19 hits in support of Wilcy Moore. Tony Lazzeri had four hits, including a pair of doubles, and drive in five runs. Babe Ruth tripled and was 3-3. And Gehrig hit the third of his record 23 grand slams and finished with five RBIs.
When action concluded that Fourth of July, Gehrig was hitting .396, with 28 home runs and 96 RBIs — in just 74 games, less than half a season.
Later that year, Ruth passed him for the home run title and eventually hit 60, while Detroit’s Harry Heilmann led the AL in batting at .398. All Gehrig did in 1927, was hit .373 with 47 homers and a league-leading 175 RBIs.
Twelve years later, on July 4, 1939, the Yankees hosted the Senators in another holiday doubleheader. The teams split, Washington winning the opener 3-2 and the Yankees taking the second game, 11-1. George “Twinkletoes” Selkirk homered in each game, but that’s not what fans and baseball historians remember about that Independence Day.
Gehrig’s Farewell Speech
Because that’s the day when a dying Lou Gehrig delivered his famous farewell speech between games of the doubleheader. Gehrig’s tearful remarks are often referred to as baseball’s “Gettysburg Address.”
After Gehrig spoke, the huge crowd stood and applauded for almost two minutes. Gehrig was visibly shaken as he stepped away from the microphone, and wiped the tears away from his face with his handkerchief.
Babe Ruth came over and hugged him. Later that year, the Baseball Writers Association elected Gehrig to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, waiving the mandatory five-year waiting period.
And less than two years later Lou Gehrig passed away, a victim of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the disease that now bears his name. The Yankee captain, the Iron Horse, was just 37 years old.
Holiday at The Stadium
Years later, my son, brother-in-law and nephew and I went to a Fourth of July game at Yankee Stadium, this one in 2003.. No holiday doubleheader that day, but the Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians 7-1 behind Mike Mussina, with home runs by Raul Mondesi and Jason Giambi.
Before the game, as we were parking in my favorite spot in The Bronx — free and easy access to the Major Deegan northbound — an elderly gentleman climbed out of the his car next to us. He was wearing a blue Lou Gehrig #4 jersey. We remarked on his taste in Yankee ware.
The man then told us that he had gone to his first major league game 64 years ago to the day, July 4, 1939. Lou Gehrig Day at Yankee Stadium. He said he had seen hundreds of games since that one, but Gehrig’s farewell remained his greatest thrill.
Sometimes baseball and history come together nicely….just like that.
Related Story: Nice piece by Ray Robinson of The New York Times on Gehrig’s farewell address.
Boston slugger Ted Williams homers during his final season, 1960.
Yeah, it happened 50 years ago this week, yet somehow I remember June 5, 1960, like it was yesterday. A beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon in the Bronx, glove in hand, ticket in my pocket. Nine years old. Going to Yankee Stadium for a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox.
This wasn’t my first major league game, but this kid was hungry for a win after seeing the Yankees lose to the White Sox in 1958 and Tigers in 1959.
The Yankees were a .500 club entering play on June 5, 20-20 and fourth in the American League, coming off a subpar 1959 season where they finished a distant third. The Red Sox were mired in the cellar. Young Ralph Terry got the start for the Yanks in the first game that day, while the Red Sox countered with lefty Tom Brewer.
The Yankees jumped off to a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a long home run by Mickey Mantle, The Yanks added three more runs in the fifth when Hector Lopez and Yogi Berra singled and Roger Maris, right, lined a home run into the right field seats. And when Tony Kubek’s single up the middle in the sixth plated Bobby Richardson, the Yankees had a 5-0 lead.
Williams Homers into The Bullpen
With two outs in the seventh and Terry seemingly cruising, the Red Sox suddenly rallied on hits by Bobby Thomson (yes, that Bobby Thomson who hit the shot heard round the world nearly nine years earlier just across the Harlem River at the Polo Grounds), Marty Keough and Pete Runnels to cut the lead to 5-2.
Up to the plate stepped Ted Williams. Now all through the game my father and relatives kept telling me to watch No. 9 in the Boston uniform. And in the seventh Williams hit a long drive into the Yankee bullpen in right to make it a 5-4 ballgame. It was the 495th home run of Williams’ historic career (he would finish with 521).
Yankee manager Casey Stengel then ambled to the mound and replaced Terry with diminutive left-hander Bobby Shantz. After an uneventful eighth, Boston loaded the bases with one-out in the ninth before Shantz got Vic Wertz to bounce into a double play to end the game.
The Yankees scored four runs in the first inning of the nightcap and cruised to an 8-3 victory, but we were long gone back home by then.
Yankees Win The Pennant
In 1960, the Yankees won the final 15 games of the season to edge out the Orioles and White Sox and win the first of five straight American League pennants, the final leg of a remarkable dynasty.
However, the Pittsburgh Pirates would upset the Yankees in the seventh game of the World Series that October, on a ninth-inning home run by Bill Mazeroski. The pitcher who surrendered that home run — Ralph Terry.
Mickey Mantle, left, would hit 40 home runs that year to win his fourth and final AL home run title. Maris, with 39 homers and a league-leading 112 RBIs. would win the American League MVP in his first year in pinstripes.
The Red Sox would wind up seventh in the American, ahead of the last-place Kansas City Athletics. Ted Williams, in his final year, would hit 29 homers — including one in his last at bat — and hit .316.
But the home run Teddy Ballgame hit on a sunny Sunday in June at Yankee Stadium was the one I will always remember. I saw Maris, Mantle and Williams homer in the same game. And I saw the Yankees win for the first time in my life.
Jacob Ruppert’s plaque hangs in Monument Park in Yankee Stadium, but not in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
There are 31 pioneer/executives in the Baseball Hall of Fame — and Jacob Ruppert Jr. is not one of them.
Walter O’Malley, Tom Yawkey, Barney Dreyfuss, Charlie Comiskey and Larry and Lee McPhail are in. So is Clark Griffith and Bill Veeck (as in Wreck). But no Ruppert, by George, even though he was “The Boss” long before Mr. Steinbrenner.
The man who put the Yankees on the map and helped them grow into America’s most famous franchise and sports brand, the guy who signed three of the greatest players ever and won seven World Series is on the outside looking in when it comes to Cooperstown.
Two of the managers who worked under Ruppert — Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy — are in the Hall, So is his long-time general manager with the Yankees, Ed Barrow.
Yet the owner who built “The House that Ruth Built” is not in the Hall of Fame.
Congressman, Colonel and Brewmaster
Jacob Ruppert had already make fame as a United States congressman from New York, a colonel in the National Guard, and a brewery owner when he and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston acquired the Yankees in 1915. The Yankees, who were born as the Highlanders in 1903 and played their games in upper Manhattan, had been pretty much the laughingstock of the American League under the team’s first owners, Frank Farrell and William S. Devery.
The Yankees had zero American League pennants, just two second place finishes, and only five seasons over .500 from their founding until Ruppert and Huston took over. The Yankees hit rock bottom in 1912 with a last place finish and a .329 winning percentage, worst in team history. They finished seventh in 1913 and sixth in 1914.
Under the stewardship of Ruppert and Huston, the Yankees made steady progress starting in the 1915 season. Then in 1920 they made the move that is still talked about today, nearly 90 years later, when they purchased the contract of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox for $100,000.
Ruth captivated fans with his batting exploits, and soon New York became the center of the baseball universe. The Yankees won their first AL pennant in 1921 and another in 1922. That year, Ruppert bought out Huston, and became the sole owner of the Yankees.
New Stadium, World Championship
The team was just warming up. In 1923, they moved out of the Polo Grounds (where they were tenants to the New York Giants) and christened a brand new ballpark across the Harlem River in the Bronx. It didn’t take long for Yankee Stadium to become the equivalent of the Roman Coliseum. And later that year they won their first World Series, defeating the in six games.
Under Ruppert’s watch, the Yankees would win another pennant in 1926 and six more World Series — 1927, 28, 32, 36, 37 and 38 — before Ruppert passed away in the winter of 1939.
The Yankees dominated baseball throughout a good portion of the 1920s and 1930s, including the Murderers’ Row team of 1927 that many consider the greatest team ever.
In addition to Ruth, Ruppert signed immortal first baseman Lou Gehrig to a Yankee contact in 1923, and the legendary Joe DiMaggio 11 years later.
A total of 13 Hall of Famers spent considerable time in the pinstripes during the Ruppert regime: Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggo, Home Run Baker, Earl Combs, Bill Dickey, Leo Durocher, Lefty Gomez, Waite Hoyt, Tony Lazzeri, Herb Pennock, Red Ruffing and Joe Sewell.
Earlier this week, a new bowl game to be played in Yankee Stadium in 2010 was announced at a press conference in the Bronx. The game, to be played between Christmas and New Year’s Day, will feature the third- or fourth-place finisher in the Big East against the seventh-place team in the Big 12.
Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr., is on record as saying the game should the called the “Jeter Bowl.”
In July, the Yankees announced that Notre Dame will host Army at Yankee Stadium on November. 20, 2010, marking the first football game in the new Stadium and the 50th time the schools have will square off against one another in one of the classic rivalries in college football.
The original Yankee Stadium was host to many monumental football games, beginning with Notre Dame-Army clashes in the 1920s. While the New York Giants were playing across the Harlem River at the Polo Grounds, several football teams named the Yankees played at the Stadium, including one in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) from 1946 through 1949.
The Giants moved into the Stadium in time for the 1956 season, and that year won the NFL championship against the Bears.
So, what were the top ten football games in Yankee Stadium history? Here’s the SportsLifer list:
1. In what is called “The Greatest Game Ever Played” the Baltimore Colts defeat the New York Giants, 23-17, in overtime in the game that raised the profile of the NFL. Alan Amache, above, scores the winning touchdown in the December dusk, 1958.
2. At halftime of a scoreless game, Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne urges his squad to “Win one for the Gipper.” And the Irish do just that, rallying to defeat Army, 12-6, in honor of the late Irish All-American George Gipp, 1928.
3. In a game that features four past or future Heisman Trophy winners (Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis of Army, Johnny Lujack and Leon Hart of Notre Dame), the number one ranked Cadets and second-ranked Irish play to a scoreless tie. Lujack’s game- saving tackle of Blanchard preserves the tie in the “Battle of the Century,” 1946.
4. Much as they did 22 years earlier at the Polo Ground, the Giants don sneakers instead of football cleats on an icy field. New York overwhelms the Chicago Bears, 47-7, to win the NFL championship, 1956.
5. Pat Summerall kicks a 49-yard field goal in a swirling snowstorm to give the Giants a 13-10 win over the Cleveland Browns, forcing a playoff for the NFL East crown. The Giants would go on to down the Browns in that playoff and advance to the NFL championship game, 1958.
6. Undefeated Fordham and the Seven Blocks of Granite need one more win to reach the Rose Bowl, but NYU beats Vince Lombardi and company and spoils their Thanksgiving, 7-6,on a muddy field, 1936.
7. Giants quarterback Y.A.Tittle ties NFL record with seven touchdown passes against the Washington Redskins. The Giants win the game, 49-34, 1962.
8. In the second and final edition of the Gotham Bowl, right, Nebraska edged Miami, 36-34, despite an MVP performance by Hurricane quarterback George Mira. Only 6,166 brave the bitter, 14-degree temperatures, 1962.
9. Yankee Stadium plays host to its final NFL Championship game, with the Green Bay Packers defeating the Giants,16-7, on the strength of three field goals by guard Jerry Kramer, 1962.
10. Central State University of Ohio defeats Grambling, 37-21 in the final Whitney M. Young Urban League classic….and the last football game ever played at the old Yankee Stadium. ”They just came to play; we didn’t,” said dejected Grambling coach Coach Eddie Robinson. 1987.
The new Yankee Stadium has opened to a plethora of empty seats, walk-off wins and long home runs.
The new house has become a launching pad, a homer-happy haven for hitters. The Bronx Bandbox has yielded 87 homers in the first 23 games, just off the all-time pace set in the mile-high homer haven at Coors Field in Denver in 1999, where 303 home runs were hit.
After a thorough inspection of the new Stadium, the SportsLifer has uncovered the problem and knows how to fix it.
Listen I’m no rocket scientist, but I work for a company that employs thousands of brilliant engineers and scientists. And my father is a retired engineer. So perhaps some of that engineering expertise has rubbed off.
Anyway, here’s my premise. First of all, the dimensions of the new Yankee Stadium are identical to the old one, so that shouldn’t have any impact on increased home run rates.
And it’s not as if the new Stadium is located in another part of New York City at a higher elevation with differing weather and wind patterns. Heck, it’s right across 161st Street from the old place.
Air Flow in The Upper Deck
The answer lies in the upper deck, enclosed in the old ballpark but with open spaces in the new Stadium. In fact, on the upper concourse at the new house there is an open gap, roughly 15-feet high. This gap, above the concession stands, allows the prevailing westerly flow entry into the park, especially on the third base side.
That airflow is then channeled into a smaller gap, about six-feet high, between the upper deck and the terrace level, where it eventually flows out to right field from the third base side (or left field from the first base side).
The majority of home runs in the new Stadium have been hit to right and right-center, which is no coincidence. They have been helped by that prevailing air flow.
The solution is a simple one according to this self-anointed engineer/architect. Put up protective tiles on the outside of the ballpark to cut down the wind flow in the upper deck. Problem solved.
With a diminished wind flow the home run ratio is bound to go down, and everyone but the hitters will be happy.
I’ve been waiting the past few years to see the new Yankee Stadium. And I’ve been waiting a lot longer — a lifetime — to catch a ball at a game.
Friday night I did both.
First time ever in the new Yankee Stadium, right after touring Monument Park, I ventured into the lower left field seats to check out the view and watch some batting practice. I wasn’t there 30 seconds when Derek Jeter lined a shot into the stands. It crashed into a seat several rows behind where I was standing, bounced forward, hit off several leaping fans, and popped into my hands as I leaned over the seat in front of me for a two-had grab..
So after more than 50 years and hundreds of games in 20 ballparks,…and just minutes about the new Stadium — I finally got my first ball. (Hey, I know it’s only batting practice, but hey, who’s counting beside me.)
Oh, I’d come close several times, no closer than a home run Bernie Williams hit into the right field seats on the day David Wells pitched his perfect game in 1998. I had that ball lined up and ready to grab, but was shoved by a large fan and missed catching it on the bounce. If you watch replays of that famous game, you can still see me — the guy in the orange windbreaker getting turned around as the ball bounces right underneath his seat.
Close But No Ball
I came close at Candlestick as a kid, and later at Tropicana Field. A friend of mine got a foul ball at Camden Yards once, when we were sitting right behind the Yankee dugout. Once during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, I caught a small yellow ball thrown into the stands and got two free tickets to see the Bare Naked Ladies in concert.
Heck, just a few weeks ago I grabbed a Mets’ tee-shirt thrown into the crowd in my first game at Citi Field.
But never caught a baseball at a major league ballpark — at least until Friday night.
What an introduction to the new Yankee Stadium. Just walked into the place, caught a Jeter BP homer. Feelin’ like I own the joint.
The new house is a magnificent baseball palace with wider concourses than the old Stadium, flat screen TVs everywhere, and an incredibly huge, diamond vision screen in center field. Restaurants and bars are located all over the park, a variety of food and drink available. And unlike the old Stadium with separate entrances, the bleachers are connected to the rest of the stadium.
But there are drawbacks. There are seats in the bleachers, for example, where you can’t see left field. I’m not talking about the left field corner, I mean left field. It’s blocked by the restaurant in center. There are some flat screens there, but you can’t see left field is left out.
Speaking of seats, with all that room it wouldn’t have hurt to put a few more tables around the park for fans to eat — especially in the upper deck.
The out-of-town scoreboard doesn’t really allow the fan to follow other ballgames. It quickly flashes scores with confusing team logos, as opposed to Citi Field where fans can follow each game, all the time.
Like any new house, the new Stadium needs some getting used to. Eventually the Yankees will figure out the economics of pricing the fancy seats behind the plate, and they’ll start filling the park if they’re winning.
The new Stadium is fast developing a reputation as a launching pad, and so far has given up with nearly four home runs a game on average. The night I went, Justin Morneau hit a pair and Joe Mauer one for the Twins. Jeter hit a home run for the Yankees (not the one I caught), and Brett Gardner hit an inside-the-parker, the first for the Yankees in nearly 10 years and the first ever in the new Stadium.
The general impression is that the Yankees lost some of their intimidating home field advantage moving across 161st Street to the new grounds. Winning baseball, like the Yankees dramatic ninth-inning rally Friday night to beat Minnesota, will build that home field edge. The crowd was certainly pretty loud when the Yankees were coming back, and the house went nuts when Melky Cabrera singled with outs to drive in the tying and winning runs.
First game at the new Stadium, a Yankee win, and a ball. Priceless.
I caught my first game at the new Citi Field the other night. Very nice ballpark. Loved the brickwork and the out-of-town scoreboard that shows baserunners and outs so you can really follow the other games. The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is an amazing tribute to Jackie Robinson. Vast improvement over Shea Stadium.
Of course Shea was an ugly place to play baseball, almost from the beginning. One of those sterile, cookie-cutter multipurpose stadiums, like Riverfront in Cincinnati or Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Some good memories with the Miracle Mets, 1986 and all, but not a lot of character.
One big distraction at Citi Field is the planes taking off from LaGuardia. Same as the old Shea in that sense.
I’ve now been to all three Mets home parks — the old Polo Grounds in Manhattan, Shea and right next door Citi.
And I will be seeing the new Yankee Stadium for the first time later this week.
In the meantime, these are the ballparks I’ve visited over the years, with memories of each:
1. Yankee Stadium
The Old Stadium – My first baseball game (1958); seeing Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Ted Williams homer in the same game (1960); Yanks-Tigers 19-inning tie (1968); Fourth of July twinbill vs. Red Sox (1973); Sunday doubleheaders.
The Refurbished Stadium — Yankees vs. Orioles in the 70s; Donnie Baseball in the 80s and early 90s; Yankees 12, Red Sox 11, 10 innings (1996); David Wells perfect game (1998); World Series victories in 1998 and 1999; Roger Clemens 300th win (2003); Aaron Boone’s homer in 11th inning wins the 2003 AL pennant over Boston; Double rally vs Padres, Yankees win in 12 innings (2004); Yankees tie team record with eight home runs in game (2007); Yankees beat Texas, 18-7, capping run of 59 runs in last four games seen at Stadium (2008).
2. Candlestick Park — Willie Mays hits a grand slam and Juan Marichal beats the Cubs (1962); Giants home opener (1985)..
3. Polo Grounds — Mets outfielder Jim Hickman hits for the natural cycle; Stan Musial pinch-hits for Cardinals (1963).
4. Shea Stadium — Banner Day parade (1967); NLCS loss to Mike Scott (1986); Yankees lose two to Red Sox (1975); Subway Series regular season battles with Yankees.
5. Fenway Park — Yankee southpaw Fritz Peterson wins 20th game (1970); Ron Blomberg first DH, Opening Day (1973); Nolan Ryan 15 Ks (1977); Bucky Dent HR beats Boston in AL playoff game (1978).
6. Memorial Stadium — Dock Ellis lifts Yankees to win over Orioles en route to pennant (1976).
7. Oakland Coliseum — A’s crush Angels in home opener (1985).
8. Arlington Stadium – Tony Pena homers and Roger Clemens stops Rangers on a hot night in Texas (1990).
9. Fulton County Stadium — Giants rout Braves, 23-8 (1990).
10. Mile High Stadium — Rockies beat the Mets in inaugural season in Colorado (1993).
11. SkyDome — Two-time champion Blue Jays beat the Yankees at the ballpark now known as Rogers Centre (1994).
12. Coors Field — Eric Young ties modern record record with six stolen bases, 10 home runs hit as Rockies beat Dodgers, 16-15 (1996).
13. Wrigley Field — Cubs and Pirates split a doubleheader; Sammy Sosa hits three-run homer to win nightcap for Chicago (2002).
14. Pro Player Stadium — Marlins beat Braves in near-empty ballpark (2002).
15. Tropicana Field — Rays beat Yankees on walk-off walk in 10th (2002).
16. Pac Bell/AT&T Park — Barry Bonds steals 500th base (2003); Bonds breaks Hank Aaron’s home run record (2007).
17. Metrodome — The Blue Jays beat ace left-hander Johan Santana and the Twins (2005).
18. Camden Yards — Yankees beat Orioles, sit behind Dr. and Mrs. Derek Jeter (2006).
19. Citi Field — Mets score five in eighth, three on Carlos Delgado home run, to beat Pittsburgh, 7-3 (2009).
Was hoping to get to the opening of the new Yankee Stadium this week. Tried to call in a few favors, but the tickets never came through.
Fuggedaboutit! I’m not the godfather.
And with a slim wallet and the cheap seats going for $200 and up hundreds, scalping was out of the question.
So instead I took the day off from work, and saw the game on TV. For free.
Saved hundreds in the process, considering the price of tix, parking, gas, hot dog and beer and a program.
Not to mention peanuts.
Instead, I watched the Yankee Stadium opener in high-definition splendor on my 37-inch flat screen. On the coach. In my living room.
Got to see the pre-game festivities, John Fogerty and Bernie Williams playing guitar in center field.
The living Yankees, and the ghosts of many former Yankees too, gathering at the new Stadium.
And of course Yogi Berra. throwing out the first pitch.
Jorge Posada, following in the rather gargantuan foot steps of Babe Ruth, hit the first home run in the new Stadium.
Only One Chance
But you only get one chance a year to win the home opener, one chance in a lifetime to win the first game in a new ballpark.
And after the Cleveland Indians scored nine runs in the seventh inning, it was clear the Yankees weren’t going to win on this day.
Final: Cleveland 10, New York 2.
THUD!! was that sound heard from the Bronx on Thursday afternoon.
The Yankees did win the next day, edging Cleveland, 6-5, on a Derek Jeter home run in the eighth.
Nice win, but that doesn’t count as the opener.
Related Links: The SportsLifer takes one last look at some of the great moments at the old Yankee Stadium.