I've covered hundreds of games at Yankee Stadium and have witnessed some of the oft-described penultimate events -- the night after Thurman Munson died, Game 3 of the 2001 World Series when the whole world was watching, Aaron Boone, the Bloody Sock, etc. -- and felt the press level rock from the roar of the crowd. But the stadium is about more than just the games; it's the people and the players and the rituals and the everyday moments of a special place. (For example, how can anyone forget seeing Don Zimmer do his version of the then-popular Macarena while in the dugout hours before a game?) One such episode has stuck in the memory.
When you enter the press gate, you walk down two flights of stairs to the basement. Directly ahead is the press dining room, which leads to the adjacent press working room. Yankees players arriving early often cut through the two rooms to the corridor beyond that leads to the clubhouse. On one day, I walked down the stairs with a prominent Yankees veteran (he shall remain nameless) who, before entering the dining room, patted his hand on what looked like a decades-old electrical box. I asked what that was about and the player replied, "That's headed to Monument Park; that's the [Carl] Pavano plaque." I took a second look at the box and noticed the electrical tape crisscrossed on the surface, with the words "not active" written on the tape. I looked up to see the Yankees players laughing uproariously.