Some buildings are beautiful; some are feats of engineering; some are just there for a specific purpose. Very few buildings envoke true feelings. Yes, old homes can do this, but it is more about personal memories of one than shared feeling with others. Yankee Stadium was one of the few that did this, and I will always remember it fondly.
I only vaguely remember my first game at Yankee Stadium. It was the summer of 1994 and I had just turned 9. I went with my dad, my sister and my mom and little did I realize that in a couple months major league baseball would be close to extinction. I don’t remember who played or who won, but I remember yelling and teasing my 6-year-old sister about getting ketchup on her shirt. Other memories include eating ice cream, being held up by my dad to see something, and thinking “WOW” as the Stadium erupted into cheers. It was cool- to be in the big city, in the massive Stadium with more people than I had ever seen in one place at one time, all cheering for the same thing.
The strike made me semi-forget about baseball, but my grandparents always watched the Yankee games, and I got into it in 1996 when the Yankees were on a roll. Though my heart belonged to Jonathan Taylor Thomas at the time, I developed a little crush on Derek Jeter. He was so good! And young! Derek Jeter made baseball exciting for me, and from that season on, I was hooked.
On New Years Day in 1997, my parents announced they were splitting up. Dad moved in with my grandparents down the street so he was still around a lot, but those every-other weekends were killer. My 9 year old sister was easy to please- she loved playing sports and was still a little kid, so my dad could just play with her and all was well. I was turning 12, ridiculously girly and into middle-school gossip and wondering when I’d get boobs (answer: sometime between 8th and 9th grades). Watching baseball was pretty much the only thing Dad and I both enjoyed. So for the next 5 years or so, I went to a lot of games with my sister and my Dad. One of the most memorable was Opening Day, 1998. They had won the Series the year before and we got there early to see the banner raised. We sat in the bleachers and it was absolutely miserable weather. Cold and raining. I remember bundling up in layers to get to the game and then talking Dad into buying overpriced sweatshirts at the game and wearing a poncho on top of everything. We stayed almost until the end; leaving early because the bleacher creatures started to get drunk and surly. When we got to my grandparents’ house, I remember my sister and I changing into the heaviest clothes we could find, then wrapping ourselves in the thick fleece Yankee blankets we had received the previous Christmas. Grandma had made my sister hot chocolate and me hot tea with honey (I don’t eat/drink chocolate) and it was awesome.
As we got older, my sister and I spent less planned time with Dad. It wasn’t every other weekend anymore, and my stepmom was around to do things with as well. Yankee games were few and far between. When I went to college, they basically stopped. I was in DC, and watched whatever games I could on tv. For the first time, I had friends who were Red Sox fans. I remember watching in 2003, as Aaron Boone became a hero, yelling in jubilation as my friends down the hall screamed obscenities in their Boston accents. It was wonderful, but oh how I wished I could be there!
Fast forward and now I’m a surprising die-hard Yankee fan. My Dad and my tomboy sister have become casual fans, while me, the daughter often invoking the nickname “princess”, checks stats, follows blogs daily and flies down to spring training. It’s weird, and surprising to many people when I throw stats out or mention players in the farm system, but I love it and there’s no going back. That first trip to the Stadium in 1994 and the subsequent trips with my Dad and my sister formed and cemented an uncomprimising love for baseball. Maybe it would have happened if I had gone to another Stadium, but I doubt it. The roar of that crowd and the ghosts that walk with you there can not be duplicated. The memories I made there cemented my love of the game. And I will miss it, greatly.