The Orioles were an afterthought in last night’s finale at Yankee Stadium. Without playoff implications, the game was secondary, and the Orioles just a means to a quorum. Still, my memories of Yankee Stadium have always been through the eyes of an Orioles fan so last night’s game was a satisfying conclusion.
Some commentators (Tony and Mike, you know who you are) recently ridiculed MLB for scheduling the long-suffering Orioles on the Stadium’s final night. Should have been the Sawx, they said, but the PTI crew overlooked a symmetry that only baseball can provide.
The Yankees, after all, began life as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901 before moving to New York (thanks for that reminder, Rob). The stadium’s biggest star also hailed from the streets of Baltimore.
My own memories of Yankee Stadium largely begin in 1996, when 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier stole Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS from the Orioles and launched the Yankees to a series win and a dynasty.
Next year, I ventured into enemy territory for the first time in September 1997, as the soon to be AL East champion Orioles took on the Yankees. That day, I sat in the bleachers and was not so nicely told to stop rooting for my team.
I showed up each year from then on to watch the Os. They became increasingly less relevant to the Yankees and the standings, but wins at the Stadium went a long way in keeping my Os faith.
Some of my other Stadium memories are the fight turned brawl that sent two drunkards tumbling down 13 rows of the upper deck. Witnessing the introduction of friends who turned their loge-level meeting into a marriage. Sitting through 17 innings of rainy baseball in Sept. 2001 for what would have been Cal Ripken’s final game, if not for the events of Sept. 11th. And joining fellow New Yorkers at the Stadium on that tragic day’s first anniversary (to see, who else, but the Orioles and the Yanks).
Nice things about the Yankees make me cringe, but even I will miss their hallowed grounds. Several times a year, it’s where I met the Orioles and recovered a piece of home.
Here are some good musings on the building’s farewell:
– Stadium Farewell Rekindles Memories of Times Gone By, Wright Thompson, ESPN.com
– Jeter?s Actions True to Example Set by Ripken, Harvey Araton, New York Times
– It’s Gone! Goodbye!, Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated