It's been a while since I blogged about something sports-related. As a result, I know one less person that will be reading this. Surf along, Barbara.
The attention that will be paid is that of Joe Brown, as it is a day he'd like to forget. On August 15, 1993, his (yes, he owns them) Baltimore Orioles made the trip to Yankee Stadium, the same park that closes this weekend. I made the trip there, too. My aunt and uncle, diehard Yankee fans and New Yorkers, got tickets for many in our family.
My two most vivid memories involved two big hits. The first was my head (specifically, my nose) hitting the metal bar in front of me as the driver of our cab taking us across a bridge to the park hit his breaks, avoiding a major pileup of cars, not avoiding piling my face up against steel. My sniffer is not all that great. This may be why.
The other hit came in the bottom of the eighth inning. My family was living in St. Louis at the time, and my Cardinal fandom was exploding, but back then, the National League was all about small ball and stolen bases, not big flies and big scores like the American League. I was so excited to see my first AL contest...at least until the 8th when it was knotted up at goose eggs. Oriole hurler (and Texas A&M's favorite LSU picther) Ben McDonald was in the midst of a no-hitter when Yankee legend Don Mattingly stepped up and launched one deep to right. From my left field bleacher seats, I saw a fan (pre-Jeffrey Maier) reach over the fence and grab the ball away from right fielder Mark McLemore. The umpires did not see what I saw and gave Donnie Baseball a round-tripper, the only run of the boring game with a thrilling conclusion. My nose hurt less because my ears were ringing with the roar of the crowd.
This new ballpark that's going up next door to the legendary building will need 85 years of insane baseball to top what its predecessor housed: the likes of Ruth, DiMaggio, Gehrig, Mantle, Jackson, Mattingly and Jeter. Beyond America's pasttime, Knute Rockne's "win one for the Gipper" speech was made to Notre Dame's footballers there in 1928. In 1936, Max Schmeling knocked out Joe Louis. In 1938, Louis returned the favor, knocking Hitler down a peg in the process. The Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants in 1956 in "The Greatest Game Ever Played" to win the NFL title. Three Popes prayed there. Ken Norton prayed, but failed to avoid Muhammad Ali's might in 1976.
I'm thankful I've got a Yankee Stadium moment. It's not one of the greatest moments of all time at The Cathedral, but it's my moment, and I'll always treasure it, even after the House That Ruth Built comes down.