Many Yankees fans happen to know someone who was at Game Six of the 2009 World Series. In fact, maybe it was themselves? But, many others don’t know someone who was there – and perhaps have missed out on a chance to get a first-hand account of what it was like to be there.
While I did not get to attend the game, I do know someone who was there – Keith Uklist – and here’s his story of what it was like to be there on that magic night.
My thanks to Keith for his willingness to put this into words and for allowing me to share it with you all. It’s a great read.
Being a lifetime Yankee fan, my expectations were as high as my anxiety level as I headed out of work in Downtown Manhattan to meet my friend and head up to the Bronx for Game Six. We left extra early because we wanted to get to the Stadium and have a pre-game dinner at the Stadium’s upscale steakhouse NYY Steak.
The subway ride was typical New York…crowded 4 train the whole way but mostly normal commuters…not a lot of fans at 4 p.m. We arrived around 4:45 to find a moderate crowd waiting for the gates to open.
NYY Steak is usually a first-come-first-served facility but apparently for the World Series it becomes reservation only. My friend and I tried to finagle our way in past security only to be turned away and told to go through the now open Gate 6. At least I got to meet Kurt Russell who was completely decked out in Yankee garb…very cool.
By the time we got up to the restaurant there was already a wait-list of about 10 people to get one of the five bar tables that are left open for walk-ins. Need less to say, and despite the hostess’ prediction of a 45 minute wait, it did not look good. The bar itself was already packed and four deep as we decided to try to wait it out. After an excruciating 90 minute wait, I was finally able to convince the bar table waitress that it would be worth her while to get us a table by promising to spend an ungodly amount of money accompanied by a tremendous tip. We had a table within 10 minutes…
Even in the restaurant the scene was electric…visiting dignitaries as Paul O’Neill (really nice guy) and Entourage’s Jeremy Piven (not so nice) added to the eclectic mix of Wall Streeters and construction workers. People of all walks were showing up in droves to unite in solidarity at an outrageously steep price (both for dinner and seats).
Dinner was fantastic…both for the food and the company…but enough about that.
We arrived at our seats to find one occupied (of course) but the gentleman vacated without incident. As the pitches started flying from Andy Pettitte’s battle-proven hand the tension was reaching a fever-pitch. Started off well enough with Rollins grounding out to Jeter…but when Victorino got on with an infield single the crowd was noticeably hushed. Not for long…Utley’s infield shot to Cano led to a tremendous double play that sent the entire stadium into a frenzy.
I have to admit that around this point I had turned to my friend to comment on next year’s prospects, espousing that I believed that the Yankees could not keep both Damon and Matsui, and based on the post-season play so far that I would have to go with Damon and they should let Matty get away. Uh, ok…let’s see how that plays out…
I’ll skip the play-by play for the rest of the first…Jeter, Damon and Tex sat down pretty quickly and it looked like Pedro could possibly cash those checks his ego had written.
With the exception of a walk and advance on a wild pitch, Pettitte retired the side and Pedro took the mound. A-Rod walks…and Matsui steps up and slams one to right…2 RBIs. The stadium EXPLODES! Do you think he heard what I said last inning? If that’s his response, you can thank me later.
High fives all around…hugs and kissing babies…unbelievable how much Yankee fans can appreciate each other…especially at moments like this. Everyone is in ecstasy…Matsui chants are reverberating through the stands…Godzilla fills the big screen. Takes a little while for everyone to calm down and by that point Posada strikes out, Cano lines out and Swisher flies out…2-0 Yanks. Good start.
Pettitte’s back and allows Ruiz to score on a sac fly by Rollins…here we go again…but hope springs eternal. 2-1 Yanks.
Pedro…Gardner strikes out…Jeter singles, Damon walks, Tex hit by pitch…A –Rod takes the plate and…strikes out looking! What?!?! Fans get a little incredulous…fickle-much?
Here comes Matsui again…singles to center and both Jeter and Damon score…
Massive eruption from the stands! The bleachers are literally writhing! It looks like a Chinese New Year’s dragon…undulating with exuberance…waves of bliss visibly emanating like heat off of a desert highway.
Posada flies out to left…great…4-1 Yanks.
Damon pulls a calf muscle (Really? Seriously?) and Hairston takes his place in left.
Utley strikes out, Howard lines out , Werth walks and moves to second on a passed ball by Posada (can you tell I’m not a fan?). Ibanez walks and Feliz grounds out to third. Pettitte is doing a great job for an old guy and the crowd is showing their appreciation. Chants of An-dy Pett-itte are loud enough for people watching in Brooklyn can hear them.
Cano, Swisher, Gardner…sit back down but by this point the fans can smell victory…and no one is sitting down.
Top of the 5th…Francisco strikes out…Ruiz walks and Rollins hit into another outstanding double play. Can you say road kill?
Pedro leaves, apparently the paternity suit has been decided…Durbin comes in to pitch and Jeter abruptly sends the ball to center field for a double. Hairston lays down a beautiful bunt that sends the Yanks captain to third and up steps Teixeira who singles bringing Jeter home. A-Rod walks, again, moving Tex to center and Durbin is gone, replaced by Happ. Hideki takes the box and slams a double to center scoring both Tex and Rodriguez. Gotta love the Phils’ bullpen, always good for a few add-on runs.
Posada and Cano strike out swinging…seriously…can I step in and play for either one of them?
7-1 Yanks…no one is quiet and no one is sitting down….I would be surprised in the city of Philadelphia has not spontaneously combusted by now from the massive amounts of psychic energy being generated by Bomber fans in the Bronx. Can someone call Geno’s or Tony Luke’s and see if the ceiling has collapsed?
But fear not Fanatics…we do like to keep things interesting. Pettitte, still pitching a fantastic game, forces Victorino to ground out to short. Utley walks and is brought in by a crushing left-field, first-pitch homer by Howard. Whoops! A pitcher’s mound conference commences and everyone thinks Andy is done but Skip shows faith and it pays off with a next batter strike out. Werth sits down and the crowd is showing massive amounts of love for Andy. Even after Ibanez doubles to right…the crowd is cradling the veteran hurler in their ample bosom. As he walks off, with a tip of his hat, and is replaced by Joba Chamberlain, the fans give him a standing ovation and extra-long chorus of An-dy Pett-itte…
Joba closes out the top of the inning and we move on…
A few more pitching changes for Philly (six in all, I think???) and Marte replaces Joba in the seventh. No more runs come in for either side but that in no way diminishes the electricity in the air and the jubilation in all of our hearts. The Stadium is still rocking and no one is leaving (except for the four guys sitting in front of us…are you kidding me???).
When the familiar strains of Enter Sandman hit the air in the top of the eighth with two outs left…the atmosphere explodes! I read today that the three astronauts on the International Space Station all turned to each other at the same time and exclaimed (“Did you hear that? Rivera must be taking the mound!”)
Mo finished the inning with a Werth strike-out and Feliz pop-up to Posada.
Uneventful bottom of the inning did not quell the excitement in the least and by the time Matt Stairs wobbles up to the plate (nice of him to take a break from the pro-bowling tour to join us…I mean, seriously I’ve seen golfers in better shape than this guy! He’s a pro-athlete?!?) you cannot hear yourself think. Although it wouldn’t matter…everyone was thinking the same thing anyway…three more outs to go!
Stairs lines out…Ruiz walks…Rollins flies out and Ruiz takes second…Victorino steps up and fights hard to stay alive…so many foul tips…it was hilarious to watch everyone try to catch the last pitch of the season on their cameras…having to delete the previous shot after each swing. Finally Vic grounds out to Cano and the Bronx is burning once again. As the players rush the mound the fans begin hugging and high-fives…
The crew immediately starts to build the podium for the trophy presentation off of second base and the Yanks, led by a flag-waving Chamberlain round the warning track high-fiving fans and rejoicing with each other. The first of a seemingly endless string of Sinatra’s New York, New York begins to play and it is literally impossible not to sing along (for the first 6 times anyway). The trophy is presented to Hank Steinbrenner…and then comes Girardi, Pettitte and a few more players to thank the fans. Very classy. The MVP was presented to Matsui and through his translator he expresses his love and admiration for his teammates and the fans and is understandably a bit cryptic in his response to queries about his future with the organization. The fans show him a tremendous amount of love and support. Walking out of the stadium for the last time this season was surreal…a surging crowd of crazed fans all showing love for each other as much as for their team. Dancing in the streets, cheap $10 knock-off t-shirts and half-naked guys with bloated beer-bellies…high-fives all around. Gotta love New York.
It continues all the way back down to Times Square…walking to port Authority to get the car getting random high-fives, cat-calls and back-slaps from people on each corner.
And so the season ends and the celebration begins…next stop the parade. Luckily I can watch from my office on the 2nd floor in our building on Broadway.
One thing I do have to say is that I was summarily impressed with the amount of respect shown by Yankee fans throughout the game, and entire series for that matter.
Not once during the entire day did I hear any disparaging comments made to any of the Phillies’ fan in attendance. I truly believe that Yankee fans are the epitome of class. We love our team and show support without needing to denigrate anyone else. The fans and players were gracious and magnanimous in victory just as we would have been in defeat and I am proud to count myself as one of their number.