I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Harvey Frommer's wonderful book "Remembering Yankee Stadium - An Oral and Narrative History of the House That Ruth Built" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). I have been saving this post for today, right before the final series at Yankee Stadium this weekend.
"Where else could I have viewed the transformation of Yankee fans from the jacket-and-tie cognoscenti of the 1950's to today's bleacher creatures?"The book is organized by decade, starting with the Twenties. The Yanks won their first World Series in 1923, the year the Stadium was opened. The history of building of the Stadium is captivating. When the Yanks decided that they'd move from the Polo Grounds to a new stadium to be built in the Bronx, John McGraw, then manager of the Giants quipped:
"They are going up to Goatville. And before long they will be lost sight of. A New York team should be based on Manhattan Island."
One of the best things about this book, aside from the wonderful pictures, are the accounts and stories from various people interviewed, from fans to celebrities to the players themselves. They lend a perspective that adds an element to the storytelling.
One of the accounts recalled the distances from home plate, going from right to left: 296, 344, 407, 461 (center). Wrap your brain around those distances and can you imagine the home run totals if the players back then played in the smallparks of today? A righthanded hitter like DiMaggio would have 100 more home runs if he played today!
A second-inning Jackie Robinson line drive off the glove of Andy Carey at third was picked up by Gil McDougal. Out at first.
"By the sixth inning of that last game, all you heard was hammers. When the game finally ended, people jumped out of the stands trying to get anything that was not nailed down. They even took the stuff that was: second base, sod, signs, advertising paraphernalia, chairs. Using tools my father had brought along, my friend Jerry and I took the chairs we had been sitting on. But we saw people carrying off rows of seats."Can you just see that?!?!
The first shot of a very young Steinbrenner, circa 1976, with the newly renovated field/stadium in the background. Talk about a reign of success/terror. Say what you will but he turned a $10 million purchase in 1973 into a multi-billion dollar empire today.
"Swung on and drilled to right field, going back Sanders, on the track, at the wall. SEE YA! SEE YA! SEE YA! A home run for Derek Jeter! He is Mr. November! Oh, what a home run by Derek Jeter!"Then there's Pedro walking off the hill in 2003 to the hate, scorn, jubilation of the fans. Turnabout is fair play, with 2004, the bloody sock, ARod's slap, Damon's beard.
Finally a look ahead to TNYS, being built.