Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Not-so-OLD Timers Day

In case you haven't yet heard, this is The Final Season for Yankee Stadium. Everything's being done to make sure you haven't forgotten this fact, as well as the storied history of the most beloved hated franchise in baseball history. Kinda depressing seeing some of these names, most of which don't seem, idunno, OLD enough to be playing yet. Crap, I hate realizing that I am older than my mind tells me.

The New York Yankees announced today that 15 first-time Old-Timers will attend the 62nd annual Old-Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 2.

Among the newcomers are seven members of the 1996 World Championship club, including Yankees Special Assistant to the General Manager Tino Martinez, Pat Kelly, Jimmy Key, Graeme Lloyd, Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson and Tim Raines. Baseball's all-time stolen base leader Rickey Henderson will also make his first Old-Timers' Day appearance at Yankee Stadium, along with current pitching coach Dave Eiland, former manager Buck Showalter and former coach Jeff Torborg. The first-timers are rounded out by Don Baylor, Tony Fernandez, Wayne Tolleson and current YES Network broadcaster Al Leiter.
I sure hope they have Rickey Henderson mic'd up as there's few things as funny as Rickey talking Rickey.

I also thought Mendoza and Nelson were still playing. Personally, I am giddy that they actually found Wayne Tolleson, the last guy to wear #2 before Cap'n Jetes. Wayne Tolleson was reportedly surprised that anyone remembered him, too.

Of course, poor Buck will be there. He was set to guide the Dynasty but was removed after the 1995 season. Buck should get a huge ovation.

Any doubt Leiter will want to pitch the whole game, racking up 86 pitches thru 3 innings?

Personal Old Timers Day story:
Back in 1986, my Dad attended Mantle & Ford's Yankee Fantasy Camp. He befriended a number of the former players, from Hank Bauer to Moose Skowron and many others. We had a family friend who had great tix behind the plate, right where the net ends. He always gave us the Old Timers Day tickets. So at one game in the mid-90's, we're there early, watching the Old Timers and whatnot. Hank Bauer walks by and my Dad calls him over. We moved to the front row (again, this was early, before the games) to chat with Hank. Hank proceeded to tell jokes and take out his denture plate for laughs. My Dad told me to take a look at his ring. Hank holds out his hand and takes the ring off***, handing it to me. It's a World Series ring. But not just any, as Hank told me. It was one of the twelve made for the players who were part of each of the five straight Yankees World Series titles from 1949-1953. Let's just say that it was pretty damn cool. At which point, Hank's ass explodes with gas, loud as could be, and he just started laughing and said "woooboy, what was THAT?" I gave him the ring back with tears in my eyes, part laughter, part nausea.

***UPDATE: My brother reminded me that it was his offering Hank a turkey sandwich in return for trying on the ring that got Hank to take off the ring. He's right. I simply forgot about that. If you knew Hank and you know my brother, you realize how apropos that exchange actually was. Did I tell you my brother is in sales?

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