Thoughts about our National Pastime and occasional thoughts for the Good and Welfare of the Reader (and maybe the writer)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Remembering Yankee Stadium

I am off to Fort Myers tomorrow to see the Twins and the Yankees and I don't feel like writing about steroids, how much money the $teinbrenners spent during the off season, or whether Ian Kennedy or Phil Hughes will be first to live up to his potential. That last point, by the way, would re-direct me into writing about how Jason Johnson and Ricky Nolasco and how Joe Girardi is not the best pitcher handling manager.

On the Twins side, I could write about how they are the mirror image of the Yankees, more or less standing pat and relying their home grown guys, Mauer and Morneau, to make them competitive in the tough AL Central. Or, I could write about they averted contraction when a judge made up a new law.

But what I got to thinking about was Yankee Stadium -- the old one where I saw my very first baseball game or the new one, built for a Wall Street that no longer exists.

Writing about he new one is tempting. We have all gotten used to the Obama Sandwich by now -- starting with an earnest opening expression of a problem and ending with a detail-deficient solution. In the middle he delivers a populist attack on an obvious easy target that has little to do with the solution, but stirs the audience. The first corporate executive to sign up for a dugout to dugout first row seat at $2,500 (81 games x $2,500 = $202,500) or, for one of the luxury suites that will go from $600,000 to $800,000 can count on starring in the next one of those Obamagrams.

So instead, let's take a minute Remembering Yankee Stadium. That, by the way, is the title of a superb history of the Stadium written by my good friend Harvey Frommer. Harvey is a prolific author who has focused, in recent years, on the Yankees. But, he is broader than that, having written about 40 sports books ranging from assisting with Nolan Ryan's autobiography to several oral histories, compiled with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer (who happens to be a high school classmate of mine).

RYS is his latest and it belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who calls himself a Yankee fan or who has ever experienced The House that Ruth Built. It combines both narrative and oral history (I contributed a short essay about my first trip to the Stadium -- you will find it on page 78). Harvey has a wide set of contacts and reaches out in all directions to get people to talk to him.

There is a great quote from Frank Howard, recalling his first look at the home team locker room; from Gene Conley, remembering an all-star game where he met Babe Ruth; from a former Yankee bat boy, Mario Cuomo and, of course, Rudy Giuliani. No book about the Yankees would be complete with some Giuliani.

Besides that, it is one of the best looking books you will ever see. The layout, intersperses those real quotes from real people with the narrative and, in between, some truly terrific photos. I like the ones of the fans in the early days when guys wore suits and ties to go to the ballgame.

Oh well. As it turns out, Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers is a nice spring training venue and up I-75, Legend Field, where the Yankees play is one of the best in Florida. Since I may never be able to afford a seat at the New Yankee Stadium, I am grateful to have a month of spring training games every year and memories of the original.

No comments:

Post a Comment