• My Yankees Fan Cousin, Vinny

    Posted by on September 30th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    Via this blog, discussion forums, and email, I’ve been able to “meet” some really super Yankees fans. One of them is “Vinny.”

    Vinny grew up in Rhode Island and moved to the Montague, Masschusetts, area when he was 22-years old. So, he’s been in Red Sox country his entire life – which is an interesting spot for a Yankees fan. Here’s an example of that, via a story he recently shared with me:

    In 1969, the Yankees lost a big lead against the Red Sox. I knew I was going to be in for it the next day. So, I decided to count how people said something to me the next day. And, I said to them, “You are #15. You are #19.” Between school and then later softball after school, I had 29 people say something to me about that game.

    Vinny recently made his first trip to the new Yankee Stadium – to see the Yankees play Boston, of all teams, and documented his experience. It’s a cool read. Granted, for those who go to the Stadium a lot, now, there’s things in there that we already know. But, I wanted to share it here, anyway, because I thought some out there may find it as enjoyable to read as I did when I saw it.

    Here it is, straight from Vinny’s email:

    It all started on September 14th when I went looking online to buy tickets for these three games. The Yankees.com site was a complete waste of time. Every attempt at buying tickets made you enter those two nearly unreadable words then a wait for the site to give you an error message. However, if you tried to buy $250 to $300 ticket the site was happy to sell you those (with fees on top of those prices!).

    I headed to Stub Hub which was far more user friendly and professional site, showing what was available where and sorted by price. There I bought two left field bleacher tickets for Friday, two grandstand seats for Saturday, and two right field bleacher tickets for Sunday.

    Next is the face value of each of those pair of tickets and what the final Stub Hub cost was each game:

    Friday – FV – $24 – Cost – $100
    Saturday – FV – $40 – Cost – $133
    Sunday – FV – $24 -Cost – $104

    So total Face Value of $88 and Cost of $337 – Cost coming in just short of Four (!!) times the face value cost!

    Last Wednesday I made my first call to the Tuckahoe Motor Inn to reserve a room for Friday – Sunday nights. I’ve been staying there for Yankee games from 1995 to 2005. Probably stayed there well over 50 nights. (Relatively) cheap motel that is ten miles/ten minutes north of Yankee Stadium in Yonkers. You can see it from the Major Deegan Expressway (I-87) and it’s easy to get to it and then back on I-87 south.

    I was told that they don’t make reservations for the weekends (!!!!) and to call back Friday morning at 8. Called again Thursday morning hoping to make the reservation but was again told that they do not make any reservations. Called Friday morning and was told the same thing but pleaded my case and was able to make reservations.

    Generally, I like to leave my house around noon so at to get at the motel by 3 PM and then to Yankee Stadium by 4 PM for a 7 PM game to avoid all the traffic, particularly on a Friday afternoon.

    Somehow I got behind on my schedule and we left around 1 PM and did not get to the motel until nearly 4 PM. I called them around 3:30 to let them know we were on our way and in traffic as I didn’t trust them to hold the reservation.

    We left the motel around 4:45 to head to Yankee Stadium and hit a fair amount of traffic especially as we got closer to that George Washington Bridge.

    I’d last been to Yankee Stadium in 2005 and had been going regularly all the way back to 1995. As a result, a lot of things had been routinized and highly efficient. Friday I was rusty. The rust first showed when I did not get on the road until 1 PM.

    The rust next showed when I missed the first Yankee Stadium exit which brings you right into the (old) parking garage. I took the second exit, which had a lot of cars leading up to it. We were led to this new underground garage.

    Here is the new way the garages work for your $23 fee. Instead of a human taking your fee as you enter, you are issued a ticket. Then once you park inside, you have to go to a machine (of course, you spend more time in line waiting to use this machine). At this machine you put in your ticket, put in cash or a credit card, and then your ticket comes out as being paid. You then insert this ticket in another machine which lifts up a gate on your way out of the garage.

    I asked if the old garage (the one right next to the old Yankee Stadium) was still there and open. I was told it was open that night, that it was used as overflow parking and opened later than the garage I was now in.

    As we left the garage and were walking towards the new Yankee Stadium, just to our right and separated by temporary fencing, was the old Yankee Stadium. I looked in and could not picture where anything from the old Yankee Stadium would have been. Seeing nothing there really brought no emotion to me. I was looking forward to seeing the new place.

    The new place is totally better in every single way. I could not think of any one reason to miss the old place.

    The Stadium employees are far, far more helpful than they ever were in the old Stadium.

    The bleachers are no longer ghettoized. In the old Stadium the bleachers were cut off from the rest of the Stadium; if you were in the bleachers you were confined to there and could go nowhere else in the Stadium and no one from any other parts of the Stadium could enter the bleachers. Now they are just like any other section of the Stadium.

    There also seemed to be a lot more leg room than there was in the old Stadium. I’ve never had a problem with the old Stadium seats width-wise so I really did not notice these seats being wider. However, I’d assume that they might since the typical American has got a lot wider than the typical American in the mid-seventies when the old Stadium had last been remodeled.

    The new place seemed like it was somewhat similar to the old place except it was much better in every single way.

    Prior to the game, I heard someone call my name and turned around to see “Jim C” there to meet and greet meet. We spent some time discussing some mutual past Yankee-related experiences until Jim left to have supper with his family in a section of the Stadium that provides supper along with the ticket price.

    The new center field screen is simply amazing with its color and the detail it displays. Next to it are three other screens that display video and information. What you see from the combination of all of them are:

    1) All scores from other games, the pitchers, which team is batting, the inning, and how many outs
    2) About 15 offensive stats for the batter while he is up
    3) Various pitching stats for each relief pitcher
    4) Both teams’ lineups with batting averages are constantly in view
    5) Type of pitch, speed of pitch, and pitcher pitch count
    6) The screen to the right of the large screen showed all the words that were being spoken on the large screen

    For the benefit of those sitting in the bleachers who have obstructed views due to the Sports bar/restaurant in center field, there are three TVs on the bottom of the structure. I used them to look at some replays of controversial plays that were not shown on the big screen.

    The new Stadium also has the same wrap around graphics that had been at the old Stadium for its last several years. Really livens up the place color-wise.

    Friday night was beautiful. Felt like a warm July night rather than a September 24th night.

    You are allowed to bring in one bag of a certain size per person. Mine was not even looked at on the way in. And the Stub Hub tickets I printed on my printer worked fine.

    We were sitting in front of the large speakers in the bleachers. They were loud but I’m used to having my ears blasted on a regular basis.

    It was strange hearing Bob Shepherd announce Derek Jeter’s at bats.

    Some people finally arrived as late as the 5th inning while some actually left as early as the 5th inning!

    I was surprised to see that the grounds crew YMCA thing was still going on. I thought it’d been stopped but was happy to see it still going on. I like it and the crowd still goes wild over it.

    There had been hardly any fans in the stands just prior to the game but they became totally full early in the game. There was a large percentage (70% to 80%) who stayed to the end of the game, which was impressive given that the Yankees had been down 10-1 earlier in the game. And the crowd that remained was into it until the last pitch of the game.

    I actually remember few of the over 60 Yankee Stadium games I’ve attended (most remembered was the famous May 2000 Roger/Pedro game) but I do think I will remember this six home run Yankee game. We had a great view from our vantage point in the left field bleachers to recognize quite early on that each of those balls hit were going to end up as home runs. None of them were coming right at us (No more Manny!) and were all from center to right. So, we could see the arc early and see where the ball was going to end up.

    Another sign of the new Yankee Stadium personnel change in attitude was that after the game the security and police were not hurrying you to leave. At the old place I was constantly used to hearing, “Sir! You have to leave!”

    At the old place (and this was the only way the old place was better) the players/managers/coaches and others associated with the game would walk out of the Stadium and then either to the visiting players buses or just beyond those buses into the parking lot where their cars were located. We’d always spend an hour outside after the game watching all these people coming out to see what they looked like in real life and getting an occasional autograph (Pedro Martinez, Derek Jeter, David Cone, Jason Giambi). By the time we’d finish with that there were hardly any cars left in the parking garage and we’d just drive out.

    Now the players et al cars are all parked inside the Stadium. While we were walking around the Stadium to get to our car, we say a lot of people gathered around a Yankee Stadium exit. Turned out this is where their cars now emerge. There were not as many people there as there were in the old days. We stayed for about 10 minutes. But since there really was not much to see we went on our way.

    Along the way to the car, we stopped to see what both the various sidewalk vendors and stores were selling. Both were selling shirts that were highly derogatory towards the Red Sox.

    By the time we got to the garage, we were one of the few cars left and drove right out.

    We got back to our cheap motel in Yonkers. I was surprised to see the depths to which they’d actually renovated it. And it still was relatively inexpensive compared to other options. It cost $90 (full cost) for each of Friday/Saturday and $80 for Sunday night.

    Saturday started off with more rust.

    I always want to leave the motel so that I get to Yankee Stadium three hours before the game. Somehow I thought my clock was an hour fast and my iPod time was correct. So, when Ben asked “aren’t we leaving late because it was 2:10″ I said, “what do you mean it’s 2:10??!!”. So, not only had I somewhat lost track of time but I was thinking it was an hour earlier.

    We hustled out of there and got on the road and, therefore, encountered more traffic than we would have if we had left earlier. But we did take the correct Yankee Stadium exit and got to go into the old garage.

    However, while we were in line to pay $23 for our parking, there was a woman ahead of us who was there for awhile. Turned out it would not accept her credit card. When we finally got up to it, I tried my credit card once before giving up and giving it cash.

    I absolutely love all the open spaces in the concourse areas. There is an incredible amount of food choices available in them on every level of the Stadium.

    At the old Yankee Stadium, I used to do a lot of reading in between innings and during pitching changes. Sometimes I’d get a whole book read during a series. This time because of all the interesting things that they put on the screens, I got no reading done. In between innings, under various themes, there are a ton of shots of individual fans at the game. It never gets old to see when they notice that we are now all seeing them on that huge screen.

    One segment they showed was of all the food choices in the Stadium. I think 1995 may have the last time I actually bought something inside the Stadium to eat. But because of the earlier day misreading of the time, we did not have the time to eat outside the Stadium prior to going in. I knew I would not make it to the end of the game without eating so I decided I just had to have those garlic french fries that they’d told us about the prior night.

    So, we walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked until we finally got to where they were sold. We had started from our seats over right field to down to around the dugout area. Cost of two sodas, one garlic french fries, and one regular french fries? $30!! It was convenient that even these relatively cheap seats are equipped with cup holders at ground level in front of you.

    Our seats were just about on the third base line. Ben, who was sitting to my right, said that the foul pole cut home plate in half. I was just to the left of the foul pole and could fully see home plate and the batter. We were so high up, however, that we were several feet ABOVE the foul pole! The view from our seats, from being so high up, seemed similar to the blimp shots that they show on TV.

    It was funny seeing this sign near us that said, “be alert for bats and balls” as if a bat could travel over 500 feet!

    We were, however, cut off from seeing the entire field. From about center field to right field, we could not see any of the warning track and for some distance in front of the warning track. So, the three home runs that went into right field just disappeared from our view.

    The entire Stadium seems to have excellent sounding speakers everywhere.

    When we first went to our seating area, we were met by this maniacal woman who told us that drinking was not allowed there. I told her that’d not be a problem since I’d not had a drink in 36 years. Then we got back after obtaining the $30 food, she insisted on seeing our tickets before letting us in the area. Then we observed her screaming at various fans who brought alcoholic beverages into the section. Note, that there were no signs about them being prohibited. At one point she went screaming and chasing after someone, making the fans in front of us all get up to let her through. Somehow she got three more security people to show up to aid her in the pursuit of some miscreant.

    A fan in front of me went to the security supervisor to complain about her and the supervisor said that she was a nut case that they’d move. Shortly after, she was stationed elsewhere and then disappeared for the rest of the game. After the game I went up to another woman in security and asked if they were unionized. She told me that they were. And, then I said that is why you cannot get rid of that woman. And she agreed with that.

    There is this new booth called Guest Services. I went down there to find out about the Bronx Zoo. There were 7 young people waiting to help me. The first guy I went to did not know the answer as to whether the Bronx Zoo was open on Sundays but he called over a woman who came over and went to a computer to tell me it was open and when it was open.

    You actually saw many people in the concourses holding ups signs saying, “Can I help you?”

    Another difference between the old and new Yankee Stadium is that the old had no regular seats in front of the bleacher seats. In both left and right field there are regular seats in front of the bleacher seats.

    For some reason the uppers lights behind home plate were never turned on for any of the three games.

    As the afternoon turned into night, it turned into another beautiful summer like night with it being quite comfortable wearing shorts and a short sleeves shirt.

    For Swisher’s second at bat, some girl announced his name, which was a nice touch.

    Kevin Kearns definitely has a strong arm.

    When Romulo Sanchez came out to relieve, I was wondering who he was and once he was announced I wondered if we were seeing his major league debut. Turns out he’s pitched a total of 31 innings for the Pirates in 2007 and 2008 and had pitched 3+ innings as a Yankee in May against the Red Sox. So, he now has 4.1 innings as a Yankee pitched. I was really hoping I’d get to see the major league debut of Andrew Brackman but that did not happen.

    By the bottom of the 7th, with the Yankees losing 6-0, not many people had left. However, by the end of the 7th people starting pouring out. And then many more streamed out after the 8th inning. However, for both this game and the prior, it felt great to be among the lively faithful remnant who stayed until the end.

    This was the second game in a row, though, where all the Yankees in the dugout were up and leaning at the top of the dugout while the Red Sox players in their dugout looked disinterested.

    After the game we headed for New York City for our usual trip to New York City after the Saturday game was over.

    The theme of the night turned into traffic, more traffic, and yet more traffic! Tons of traffic just getting to the entrance ramp of 87 South and then an unusual amount of traffic once we got on the FDR South. We finally made it to Ground Zero and saw what has transpired there since we’d last been there five years ago. After leaving there and again hitting tons of traffic and driving around for a long time looking for a parking space, we finally got to St Mark’s Place. There were not as many places left there as there had been in the past so we did not stay long before heading to Time Square, which we finally got to around 11:30 PM. We attempted to see ESPN Zone but found out that location and several other ESPN Zone locations in the country had been closed since last June. I guess they took the business out of the space but they must still have to pay the rent due to a lease. Times Square was its usual filled with people from when we arrived until we left around 1:30 AM.

    On Sunday, with an 8 PM game, we headed to the Bronx Zoo. All I knew about it was that it’d existed but knew nothing else. In all the series I’d been to at Yankee Stadium. I’ve never gone and never even thought of going. Cost $13 to park and $16 per adult for general admission (Total Experience tickets cost more). What a great experience. We were there for about four hours and thought there was much more to see. Want to go back again. My favorites were the sea lions, monkeys, some birds, reptiles, rodents.

    In the past, we had always eaten breakfast in a place right around the corner from Yankee Stadium. It was inexpensive and they gave you your food about 5 minutes after you ordered it. Then they went upscale and we stopped going there and started going to a place across the street. We got to the Stadium Sunday night at 6 PM and needed to eat. So, we ended up at the old place. It was twice as big as it had been and was packed with people. We asked if they’d serve us breakfast food and they said yes so we went in. Big mistake! The food really was not that good and look at these prices!

    glass of milk 5.00
    2 glasses of orange juice 10.50
    2 french toast, 2 eggs, sausage 11.95
    2 french toast, 2 eggs 8.75
    2 french fries 11.50
    1 plain bagel 2.75
    1 bagel with cream cheese 4.95

    Total with tax and tip?? $72.26!!!

    And to add insult to injury, they were blasting music at live music levels while we were there so we had to shout to hear one another. I don’t mind loud music when I’m hearing it live because I’m there to hear the music and not to talk to anyone. And then on top of it, it was the mindless, repetitive Hip Hop music that was being played. And, just as I was leaving they started playing rock music. A bad decision all around to go there as it turned out to be far from an optimal experience on many levels!

    There will be NO Billy’s Sports Bar in my future!

    Our backpacks were given the most close inspection of any of the games before we went in but we each passed with flying colors. There is a size limit on bags brought into the Stadium; they have to fit some kind of slot that they have there. It’s overall far more relaxed than it had been after 9/11.

    We found out that you can bring unopened water bottles into the Stadium (along with any food). So, you can pay $1 for a water bottle outside the Stadium and bring it in or you can pay $5 for the exact same bottle!

    After we got into the Stadium I saw an elderly black woman who I’d met earlier in the last decade in the bleachers at the old Yankee Stadium. I went up to her and talked to her and was shocked to find out that she’s turning 80 this November. So, if you see “Evie H” in the bleachers, say hello to her. A blessed fellow Yankee fan.

    Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave fame?) sang the National Anthem and he thoroughly butchered many of the words and lines. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone do a better job of butchering it.

    Before the game, each Yankee appeared on the big screen thanking Yankee fans for their support this year. This was the last regular season home game.

    This was definitely the coolest night by far. I started off the game with a warm long sleeve undershirt plus flannel shirt. Then later added my Yankees sweatshirt. And finally topped it off with a rain coat once the rain started.

    I never visited Monument Park at any of the games. And I never visited it at the old Stadium. There seemed to be a lot of long lines to get into it and they cut off the lines early, leaving a lot of people unhappy. There is a museum there also? I think I saw a sign for it on the way out but never made it there either.

    We did see the blimp above us.

    During the singing of God Bless America, I heard some guy behind me yell, “Take off your hat, Commie!” I don’t think it was directed at me because on top of my hat I had my Yankee sweatshirt hood plus my raincoat hood.

    What the shouter fails to recognize is that it’s only the “Commie” citizens and Nazi citizens who have to take off their hats so as to conform. Here in America many people have died so that citizens can have the freedom to decide if they agree that taking their hats off is a form of honoring anything.

    It was an odd game in that all in the same game we saw:

    1) a pitcher (Chamberlain) catching a pop up
    2) a catcher (Posada) tagging out a runner at first base during a rundown
    3) both closers losing saves
    4) three stolen bases of third base in one inning – the ninth

    The first people started leaving the Stadium at the end of the first half of the 7th when the Yankees were losing 1-0. A fair amount followed them at the bottom of the 7th with the Yankees leading 2-1.

    During the game there was a lot of 2 strike clapping. On some of the occasions I was the first one to start doing so. The revered Bleacher “Nazi” Creatures really don’t seem to add too much to the game as they were sitting on their hands while I was on my feet for 2 strike clapping. Also, throughout the bleachers too many fans were giving their attention to taunting Red Sox fans rather than what was going on on the field.

    Swisher is a huge fan favorite. More so than Teixeira.

    For the roll call at the start of the games, Swisher salutes the fans, Gardner gives a muscle pose, and Granderson puts his hand over his heart. The infielders all give a perfunctory wave of the glove.

    With the Yankees up in the bottom of the 8th and still leading 2-1, there were many pockets of empty seats all over the Stadium.

    Then this totally weird rain started. We could see it above us at the level of the lights but we could also see the wind swirling it all around us so that none of it actually touched us until it later did finally start coming straight down on us. But it never really amounted to more than a drizzle.

    Many more fans left between the 8th and 9th innings.

    Then fans started pouring out when the Red Sox tied it 2-2 in the top of the ninth.

    Then even more joined them when the Red Sox took a 3-2 lead in the ninth.

    By the bottom of the ninth inning, only the faithful were left in the Stadium.

    Then after the Yankees tied it 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, ever more left. For a few innings many sections of the Stadium were almost completely empty.

    By the top of the 10th, there were hardly any people in the 9 sections directly behind home plate. The left and right field bleachers had, by far, the highest percentage of people still in their seats.

    After the top of the 10th inning was over, even more people left.

    However, somehow, by the bottom of the 10th, I looked around and saw a lot of people in seats who had not been in them for the previous innings or two.

    The last inning was extremely exciting. We were all standing up in the bleachers. It was so exciting that even though I only had about 5 hours of sleep the night before, I was thoroughly tuned into each and every pitch to each Yankee until it finally ended with a walk off walk.

    After the end of the game, this young guy asked me to take a picture of him and his 8 or so friends. I told them that they were the faithful who had been rewarded with a Yankee victory after all the band wagoners had gone home!

    After the game, Ben and I made a deal with one of the street vendors for Ben to get one of those derogatory Red Sox t-shirts (he lives and works near Boston and encounters tons of Red Sox fans daily in his work) and I got an Italian Yankee shirt.

    After we finally got to the parking garage after 1 AM, there were hardly any cars left in there and we first struggled to find out where we supposed to go to drive out and then once we were at the gate we could not get our ticket to lift the gate. Turned out that there were four ways you could insert the ticket and I’d only tried two of those four ways. We finally got out and were on a speedy way back to the motel in 10 minutes since there was hardly any traffic on the road at that point.

    The Yankees lost two of three but Friday night was an exciting game with the six Yankee home runs and then Sunday was a real treat with a totally thrilling last four innings of the game.

    We both look forward to going back last year for a rust-free trip!

    Comments on My Yankees Fan Cousin, Vinny

    1. Raf
      September 30th, 2010 | 3:07 pm

      Very nice read. I enjoyed his account of his time @ YS. I wonder if he would consider taking the train (either the 4 or the Hudson Line) to Yankee Stadium, especially if he’s going to combine other sights with the game?

      Given the location it’s amazing, at least to me, as to how big the Bronx Zoo is.

    2. October 1st, 2010 | 1:00 pm

      Vinny’s an interesting guy – and a great, great, Yankees fan. Here’s how it all got started, per him:

      I was in 3rd grade in 1960, around nine years old, when I was constantly asked if I was a Yankee or a Red Sox fan. My only prior baseball experiences were remembering my father watching the 1959 White Sox/Dodgers World Series (the only time he watched baseball) and watching a little bit of a Red Sox game and, for some unknown reason, gleefully going outside to tell my father and cousin that Ted Williams had struck out! (Born to NOT be a Red Sox fan??!!)

      So, I did not know what I was. My father was no influence here. I felt tension as I was continually being asked and I did not know. I had nothing to base it on. Finally, one day I just blurted out, “Yankees!” It was based on nothing but the tension was relieved. I now had an answer to give. A few other major things in my life have resulted from similar impulsive decisions.

      I will take you through the years following where my life and the Yankees intersect.

      1960 – Watched some of the World Series. I was watching game 7 with David Izzo and his grandmother. I saw Tony Kubek get hit in the throat with that ground ball. 37 years later I still have a vivid picture of him holding his throat. David and I were getting so excited during the game that his grandmother told us to go outside so she could watch in peace by herself. We obeyed. Later we came back in. I asked who won. She said the Yankees. David and I were jumping up and down, hugging one another. Then she told us the truth. What a blow!!!

      We went back outside. The 1960 baseball cards had included decals of teams. For some reason David had a Pittsburgh Pirates one on his bicycle. In probably my gruffest voice I’d ever used I said, “Get that thing off!”

      1961 — This was the year I started following the Yankees by listening to them on the radio. And what a year to really start following the Yankees! I remember the Memorial Day game when the Yankees hit SEVEN (7) home runs against those hapless Red Sox! I went to my first game ever that year. In July. At Fenway Park. Against the Yankees. The night before Johnny Blanchard had pinch hit a grand slam to win it for the Yankees. He hit a pinch hit three run home run to win MY game!

      All my life I’ve lived far from New York which has always made it difficult to listen to games. During the summer we went to a summer house in the beaches of Rhode Island. Right across the ocean was New York. The games came in clear as a bell; something I’d never experienced before. What a treat to be able to listen to the games with such clarity!

      All those home runs. Following Mickey and Roger trying to catch the Babe. It was a year when the Yankee fans stopped booing Mickey Mantle and truly embraced him as their own.

      In late September the Yankees were playing the Tigers in a crucial series. It was a Friday night and the first game. My father, my Godfather, and myself were sitting outside, listening to it on the radio. My Godfather was one of those big-time Yankee haters. In the 9th inning the Yankees went ahead to win. On the key play my Godfather grabbed my Yankees cards and threw them, muttering something about those Yankees. After that game, the Yankees just ran away with the pennant!

      I can still picture the moment in September when I opened my pack of cards and there was a Mickey Mantle. The card with him with the rosy cheeks. The one which if I still had today is worth $425.00 in mint condition.

      By the way, if you came near me, and you had a Mickey Mantle card, somehow I got it from you. From someone I got the 1956 Mickey Mantle (now worth $1,400). From someone else I got the 1955 Bowman Mickey Mantle (now worth $900). I do have a picture to prove I had these cards and others. I used to staple my Yankee cards to a bulletin board in my bedroom.

      1962 — Prior to the season, the movie Safe at Home came out. I was nearly jumping out of my skin as we were going to see it. Why? Because Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris are in it!! I remember leaving disappointed. But I recorded it from either HBO or Cinemax several years ago and watched it again. I loved it!! It was so great seeing Roger and Mickey in their youth, just talking. I highly recommend all seeing it!

      I remember we had this fabulous rookie by the name of Tom Tresh. He goes on to become a favorite of many Yankee fans. He starts at shortstop because our regular one, Tony Kubek, is fulfilling his military commitment (Cold War days!). Tony Kubek comes back mid-season and Tom Tresh goes to left field. I was listening on the radio to Kubek’s first at bat. HOME RUN!!!

      I was at a house in the Boston area for the World Series and thus watched with Red Sox fans. I remember gasping when McCovey hit that line drive. The Yankee fan (me) celebrated while the Red Sox fan in the room sulked!!

      1963 — I remember going out to my backyard before school and throwing a ball against a wall we had and making some kind of game for hits and outs according to how I caught it. It was always the Yankees playing the Red Sox. The games were always close. It was always went down to the last at bat. And the Yankees always won every game!

      The World Series. I decided to keep a scrapbook. We received three newspapers a day so I had a lot of articles to put in. Wrong choice of years. Every game it got worse as we lost another and then another. First game Koufax sets a strikeout record against us! I could not believe while I was walking home form school and listening to my radio that they actually interrupted a World Series game to announce some trivial world event like some guy by the name of Krushchev no longer being in power!

      We’re now down 3 games to none and it is game four. Frank Howard hits the home run to put the Dodgers up 1-0. Mickey Mantle hits a tremendous monster home run to tie the game. Then, Joe Pepitone makes the crucial error in the ninth inning on Clete Boyer’s throw which leads to the Yankees losing 2-1. The Series is over. Not only have we lost but we have been swept. I am stunned!! We never lose! At least not in my Yankee rooting lifetime.

      I’m so stunned I just walk out of the house and start walking down the street. I start experiencing this feeling that I’ve never experienced before. Several years later, I realize that this is the first time in my life I ever experienced depression.

      1964 — One of my favorite all-time Yankee seasons.

      I read about how to keep score. I start keeping score of a lot of Yankee games. I also start keeping their season batting and pitching stats after each game. I was glad when I later learned how to use a slide rule so I didn’t have to do all the division by hand any longer.

      I believe that it was this season that I fell in love with my all-time favorite announcer, Phil Rizzuto!

      I remember when this rookie by the name of Mel Stottlemyre came up. I had this feeling he was going to be special. I learned how to spell his name the first day he came up. And he was special! I will never forget his first year stats: 9-3, 2.33 ERA. No Stottlemyre, no pennant! The line on him was he had ice water in his veins.

      In August I went to see the Yankees at Fenway. It was the first game of a day night double header. Al Downing pitched a protypical Al Downing game. He mows them down, inning after inning. He has a 2-0 lead. Then late in the game, he walks two, Dick Stuart comes up, and BOOOM! hits a three run home run which proves to be the game winner.

      But Stottlemyre starts at night and it is the first game of an incredible season ending Yankee streak which wins the pennant. It was similar to the 1995 25-6 finish.

      In one of his later games, Paul Ferrarra and I are listening to the game in my cellar. Mel Stottlemyre is up with the bases loaded against the Red Sox. He hits an inside the park grand slam home run! Paul and I are jumping up and down, hugging one another in our glee!

      It was also during this time that the famous Yogi Berra/Phil Linz harmonica incident took place on the team bus!

      It’s September and Robert Petrucelli attempts to taunt me about the Yankees. But before he can get a few words out, I cut him off by saying something and finished with, “and the Yankees are going to win ten in a row!” They then win ten in a row!!!

      For most of the season, the Yankees have chased both the Orioles and the White Sox. It is not until the final weekend that they finally clinch it. It ws even more wild in the National League. It was the year of the great Phillies collapses and during the last weekend four teams — the Phillies, Cardinals, Reds, and someone whom I’ve forgotten all have a shot at the pennant.

      We get the Cardinals in the World Series.

      I won’t forget many events from that World Series.

      Game three on Saturday. Tie game in the bottom of the ninth. Watching with David Izzo and my father. Mickey Mantle leading off. My father asks us what he is going to do. Emotional David says, “Home Run!” Cautious Vinny say, “Double!” Mickey deposits that Barney Shultz knuckler for a game winning home run!

      David and I are walking to church to go to confession when I spot Anthony D’Itri on the streets, a fellow Yankee fan. I start screaming out, “Mickey Mantle! The Yankees won!”

      Game four on Sunday. I have to watch in the cellar instead of on the big tv because we have company. Al Downing has a 3-0 lead. The bases get loaded. Ken Boyer hits a grand slam home run. We lose 4-3. Series tied at 2-2.

      Game five is on Monday, Columbus Day. We are down in the ninth. Joe Pepitone hits a rocket that goes off Bob Gibson’s hip. Gibson, being the superb athlete that he was, is on it like a cat and throws out Pepitone by an eyelash. Could not have been any closer! The next batter, Tom Tresh, hit a home run to tie the game. If Pepitone had been safe we win the game on the Tresh home run! Tim McCarver hits a three run home run to win the game in the 10th. Little did I know at that time that more than 20 years later, Tim McCarver would come back to torment me over and over and over as a totally obnoxious announcer!

      Game six, behind the fine pitching of Jim Bouton and a grand slam by Joe Pepitone, we pummel the Cardinals to tie the World Series at three each.

      Game seven. We have to pitch rookie Mel Stottlemyre in his third game and on only two days rest. He just does not have it. They have Gibson. It is 7-3 going to the ninth inning. Gibson is tiring as Boyer and someone else hit solo home runs to make it 7-5 but that is it. We lose the World Series for the second year in a row.

      Then a stunner. Yogi Berra is fired as the Yankee manager and we hire the Cardinals manager, Johnny Keane.

      Oh, one more reason why 1964 was so special. There was this musical group from England that was oh, so magical. They had some kind of bug-like name. Maybe you’ve heard of them. How can it better. Having the Beatles enter your life and the Yankees have such a sterling finish to a season to win the pennant? I know, I know! Win the World Series!

      1965 — A shocker!

      We start off poorly and it is a major (well really minor) celebration when we reach .500. We finish way out of first place.

      I make my first ever trip to Yankee Stadium in April. Am I excited? We lose. Tony Oliva impresses me to no end with one line drive home run down the right field line and another line drive home run down the left field line! A Hall of Fame shoo in if his knees ever held out.

      On the second to the last day of the season my parents go to visit my sister in Boston and Robert Petrucelli and I go to Fenway Park to see the Yankees and the Red Sox. My father stops at Fenway a few hours before the game to buy our tickets. The tickets were second row from the field and two seats from the Yankee dugout! Of course I had my camera!

      It was also the day that Bob introduced me to how to get baseball players autographs. After the game I got Mel’s autograph!! It was his 20th victory that day! (20-9 that year) I still have that ball. On that ball I also have Jimmy Walker’s autograph. Jimmy who, you say. Jimmy who, indeed!! Jimmy Walker was a guard for the Providence College Friars. During his senior year he was an All American, the leading scorer in the country with a 30 point scoring average, and the number one pick in the NBA draft. He signed for the then unheard sum for back then of $300,000. He was the pre-Magic big guard as he was 6’5″. He ended up having a few all-star seasons. He is also the father of current NBA player Jalen Rose. They’ve never met or spoken to one another.

      At the basketball game, I handed the ball to Jimmy Walker, and said, “Please, sign under Stottlemyre.” He said, “What? Please sign on the dotted line?”
      I got the autograph under Stottemyre!

      The day I got Mel’s autograph, I also got Rich Beck’s autograph. I was screaming to Bob, “I GOT RICH BECK’S AUTOGRAPH!!!” He said, “Rich who?”

      Well Rich Beck had debuted on September 14, 1965, started three games, pitched 21 innings in those games, had one shutout, and was 2-1, 2.14. Another year, another Stottlemyre, right??!!

      He never pitched in the majors again! It was that Cold War thing again and after he fulfilled his military commitment the magic was no longer there for him.

      It was also in 1965 that my 9th grade English teacher, Mr. Abosambra, said in front of the entire class, “Vinny, can you do a book report on something other than baseball?” What else is there in life but baseball?

      There was also an event in my life in 1965 related to baseball. On New Year’s Day I was quite despondent because I was feeling so oppressed from all the pressure I had put myself under to perform in school. I’m having my first ever thoughts of suicide, telling myself what is life worth living for? Shortly after I’m in my closet organizing my baseball magazines. And all of it comes to me! Baseball!! Baseball is worth living for!!

      1966 — How can it get any worse??? We come in last. Behind the Red Sox for the first time in my life!!!

      But I do enjoy the season nonetheless. I’m keeping score like crazy and keeping all those averages. Every new player is going to turn the season around.

      Fred Talbot
      Roger Repoz
      Steve Whitaker

      On September 11, 1966 I see John Miller hit a home run against the Red Sox in Fenway in his first major league at bat. Another new savior! He hits one more home run in his major league career which totals 61 at bats.

      There was a play during a double header against the Orioles in which Frank Robinson makes a key play. In later years I turn it into a trivia question which stumps all. I even win a prize from Behind the Bombers by stumping the Bomber Brain with it!

      My Yankee Stadium game this year is against the Orioles. It was Frank Robinson’s triple crown year and he beat us in that game. Paul Ferrarra, now an Orioles fan, is with me.

      1967 — The Year of the Impossible Dream for the Red Sox. Since I live in the heart of Red Sox country and read three daily newspapers and read every single baseball article in them, I cannot miss this phenomenon.

      But Yankee fanatic that I am, I am arguing with David Biancucci, that most hated of Red Sox fans, in August that the Yankees are better than the Red Sox. They win the pennant and we finish ninth.

      It must have been a year earlier on an extremely hot, humid August day when we are playing baseball and David says something to me that causes me to explode. I have one of my only three post-puberty fist fights. All those years of listening to his anti-Yankee harangues were exorcised.

      For my birthday in April my sister has me come to visit her in Boston. We first go to see the Yankees and Red Sox play. Then later that night she takes me to hear my first live music ever. Among who we saw were the Four Tops and Chuck Berry. Later when my father asked me how I liked it, I said, “Well, they weren’t the Beatles.”

      My sister took me back to Fenway Park for the Saturday and Sunday games so I saw an entire Yankee/Red Sox series at Fenway Park. She had no interest in the games, reading a book during all the games. Just a sister’s way of showing her love for a brother.

      As an attractive young female in the Boston area she had visits by Tony Conigliaro and Dalton Jones (Red Sox players) to her apartment and told me of meeting Earl Wilson (Tigers/Red Sox) and Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.

      In August, I go to Yankee Stadium to see them play the Red Sox. My father takes me and Al Zannella and Clem Soscia. Al Downing pitches. He pitches the entire game. Carl Yastrzemski beats us by hitting a home run in the 11th to win the game, 2-1.

      Trivia question. What is the commonality between my Yankee Stadium visits of 1965, 1966, and 1967?

      I’m watching the last Red Sox game of the year wherein they beat the Twins to win the pennant but I am still listening to the last Yankees game of the season because this Red Sox/Twins games is really just a sideshow to the important baseball game of the day!

      Did I tell you yet that when I used to watch the Yankee/Red Sox games on Red Sox tv, I’d also have one radio on one side of me turned to the Red Sox radio broadcast and another radio on the other side tuned to the Yankee broadcast? I’m a multi-tasker from way back!

      So, I root for the Cardinals in the World Series because I can never root for those hated Red Sox. After too much fooling around the Cardinals finally win.

      1968 — We are starting our march back to respectability.

      The three main things I remember from that year were

      a) Stan Bahnsen having his wonderful Rookie of the Year Season. And he delighted me not once but twice by seeing him end two complete game wins at Fenway Park by defeating the hated Red Sox by striking out the hated Carl Yastrzemski in the final out of each game!!!

      b) Playing basketball in front of David Izzo’s house and listening to a Yankee double-header against the Tigers in August. Rocky Colavito comes in to relieve in one of the games and ends up winning it!!

      c) Memorial Day, a bunch of us go to the local Little League field to play baseball. Maybe the last time I’ve played hardball. Of course I have my radio with me. Mickey Mantle goes five for five!!

      1969

      Mickey Mantle had been my idol from when I became a Yankee/baseball fan until about the end of his career. I had my bedroom closet door dedicated to him: pictures galore. I never wanted to miss a Mickey Mantle at bat.

      The first chink came when I was outside the Yankee bus at Fenway park holding this huge sign, “THE MICK IS THE GREATEST!” while he was sitting in the window seat in the back of the bus. He just looked straight ahead. Now, I have a little better understanding of what it is like for players to be subject to that type of adulation (not that I ever have!). But then I read Jim Bouton’s Ball Four and I realized I had no interest in patterning my character after Mickey Mantle’s.

      Then — Well, I graduate high school. My hair ends up not being cut for a year and one-half. I’m marching in protest marches. I’m getting arrested. My passion for music overtakes my passion for baseball and I end up being the manager for a rock band (the next Beatles, of course!)

      But these are all stories for another time and probably NOT HERE!!

    3. October 1st, 2010 | 1:17 pm

      That was a very detailed, interesting post. The one thing that really shocked me was that Vinny hadn’t been to a game at the Stadium since 2005! What’s up with that?

    4. October 1st, 2010 | 1:26 pm

      You have to ask him. ;-) I think you know Vinny from those Yankees discussion emails, no?

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.