Me at the Old Yankee Stadium

A Yankee Reflective

Jose 8 Comments

I walked into my classroom with a pinstriped white shirt, and a brand new Yankees tie I got shipped to me a few weeks before, with navy blue pants, and black shoes. I knew I’d get criticism for it, mainly from a group of students who preferred the now-two time championship Boston Red Sox, my favorite team’s most storied rivals, and a team that espoused some of the greatest Dominican baseball players of all time. Ortiz, Ramirez, and Martinez. These same students were born in 1996, the very first championship I got to celebrate. It bothered me a little to see so many adamant native New Yorkers choose the Red Sox, knowing that at the least they could have at least chosen the Mets, who most Yankees fans don’t really mind, but would never trade for their favorite team. Then again, this anti-NY sentiment comes with the territory: all empires must come to an end, at least to give way for a rebirth.

I first became a Yankees fan around 14 years ago, when my cousin Richard introduced me to some Yankee baseball card he got signed. I believe Don Mattingly came to the now-defunct Milliken Boys Club and signed his card. I heard all these names: Velarde, Williams, and Mattingly, and while the New York Knicks dominated sports, I also found myself attaching myself to the Yankees during baseball season. 1995, Mattingly’s last season, and many people around my neighborhood said, “Man, it’d be messed up if we won a championship without him.”

1996, 1998, 1999, 2000. My principal in high school got tired of giving us days off to let us celebrate downtown at the parade. For my generation of Yankee fans, we almost felt entitled to one because we were so priviledged to have that many consecutive championships with al those charismatic players like Jeter, O’Neill, Cone, Wells, Pettite, and Rivera, and jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring moments like Boone’s homerun, Doc Gooden’s no-hitter, the Davids’ perfect games, Scott Brosius’ MVP performance in the World Series, and cool Joe Torre, personally and professionally. That core of Yankees from ’96-’00 gift-wrapped all of the great history that this colossal franchise developed for those of us who hadn’t seen a Yankee championship since 1978 or hadn’t been born in time to see that history.

Now, looking back at the 2001 World Series, how the stadium erupted during games 4 and 5, with the 9/11 atmosphere surrounding the stadium, I realized right then and there it was time to rebuild. Despite all the evidence, like the World Series loss to the Florida Marlins in ’03, the American League Championship Series loss to the Red Sox in ’04 (in game 3, the score was 19-8; last time the Red Sox made it to the World Series before then, 1918, more eeriness), and the three first-round exits in the playoffs from ’05 – ’07, the Yankees management chose to buy up instead of invest. Some purchases made sense at the time, like Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, and Carl Pavano. But whether it was curious injuries, playoff calamity, lack of strong pitching, or maybe Yankee Stadium telling the team that it couldn’t give anymore, the Yankees could never replicate those previous fortunes.

This must be what the death of an empire must feel like. Today, I walk around with disheveled Yankees fans, multi-color NY caps floating around, long jerseys with numbers like 2, 3, 13, 20, and 55 , and even longer faces, knowing what we’ve become accustomed to is no longer ours: October baseball. Yankee fans have officially become humbled, witnessing the collapse of the greatest baseball stadium of all time while the team collapses as well.

Here’s one Yankee fan who hopes that maybe the new Yankee Stadium can bring some new magic in …

jose, wondering how it’s gonna be next year …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Jose VilsonA Yankee Reflective

Comments 8

  1. Jonathan

    And this is how the Yankees have done it the last two big times around.

    From 1976 – 1981, 6 years, 5 playoffs, 4 times in the World Series, and won it all twice. Reggie. Ron Guidry. Willie Randolph. Graig Nettles. Thurmon Munson. White. Chris Chambliss. Lou Piniella. Mickey Rivers was on a couple of those teams. They added Winfield. Catfish Hunter. Ed Figueroa. Mike Torrez. Remember Sparky Lyle?

    And then. And then. They replaced their older stars with established players, traded away prospects, and while they finished regularly above .500, they were out of the post-season for over a decade.

    And they were not always over .500.

    Those teams, with Mattingly, Jack Clark, Jesse Barfield, Winfield, Ricky… at the end of the 80s they had nothing. I was at the game, mid-summer 1990, when they announced that Steinbrenner had been banned. I was at the Stadium around 30 times that season, and that was the loudest the crowd got all season.

    Yup, so instead of rebuilding they toss around cash to keep the playoff run alive. They’ve done it before.

    Jonathan, who can’t believe he used to get to 30 games a season.

  2. Norm

    In 1978 when the Yanks won the series I told my Ap I wanted to change my trip from the Museum of Nat. Hist to the Indian Museum ( the closest to the parade.)

    He said ok and I took my 6th grade class to the parade route where we waited for the Yankees to pass.

    Paper came down from teh buildings and my kids were rolling around in it and having a blast.

    It was quick – 3 or 4 trucks or so and it was over. They kept playing for a while and them we went to Battery Park for lunch.

    In 1998 on the day of the Yankee parade, one of the students on that trip had just gotten out of jail and came to visit me. He remembered that day 20 years before so vividly. I had forgotten all about it.

    Norms last blog post..Claims Of Age Discrimination At Graphic Communication High School Prevail

  3. Bronx2020

    Jose — am watching the whole hoopla now. One of the things that have gone in the CONS column in regards to be wanting to go into teaching is that it might be more difficult for me to cut out of work to go to opening day….. it’s still one of the most troubling items in that column.

    LETS GO YANKEES!

    CLAP CLAP, CLAP-CLAP-CLAP

    I’ve been a massive, unrepentant Yankee fans since 1983, and suffered through the 80s, when the Yanks had teams which, at times, were not simply not the best, but among the worst. I always find it interesting to talk to Yankee fans who know nothing but winning and good times.

    It blows my mind that you’re teaching kids who were born in 1996.

    I feel old now.

    Thanks.

    Bronx2020s last blog post..Teach For America info Webinar — live!

  4. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Jonathan, you’re right, but remember that 96 came with an equal signing and prospects. Same, I believe, with 78. They built the teams and bought people up at the right time, versus just buying up as many people as possible without developing the back-end. Notice also that the home-grown players have gotten more love overall than the bought-up players (free-agency period). Yes, the 80s were grim, but they needed the 80s so they can rebuild during the 90s. 30 games?! Wow!

    Norm, I empathize with you. I actually took my kids to the Stadium this year for a tour, and for many of them it was their first time going. Think they’ll ever forget that experience? Never.

    Bx2020, you’re right: it will be hard going to opening day, but that’s why you got 10 personal days. Not to mention that you can just give a test the morning after so you’re not doing that much work. We all have strategies to prepare for day-before and morning-after special events stuff.

  5. brran1

    I’ve always said that I was gonna make it to Yankee Stadium one day based on the historical aspect of it alone. But it seems as if every time I’m in the Boogie Down, I’m either passing through on my way to somewhere else or just nowhere near it.

    One chapter closes, and another opens up (right next door no less).

    I’d hate on the new building b/c it’s replacing one where history was made, but my inner (future) Civil Engineer won’t allow me to do such.

    brran1s last blog post..Just a Quick Update

  6. The Jaded NYer

    Although I’m a first and foremost a fan of that “other” team, I am still a NYer through and through, and I went to many a Yankee game (side effect of being married to a Yankee fan) and I know how to give props where props are do… Yankees are a great team and the stadium is a historic place; The House That Ruth Built and all that good stuff.

    I remember one particular game after 9/11 where they did this tribute/memorial presentation… later on in the game the umpire threw Torre out of the game and the entire crowd started chanting “a$$hole” AHHHHH, sweet memories…

    Very sad to see it go…

    The Jaded NYers last blog post..Damn, She’s My Daughter Alright…And Other Musings

  7. Post
    Author
    Jose

    While I agree with the premise, Clyde, this was more me reflecting on Yankee Stadium itself. Trust, living in NYC, I know the politics behind it, and that’s what makes it worse.

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