Monday, September 22, 2008

A Grand Finale

The final game and it's pre- and post-game ceremonies were a perfect send off to the Stadium. Kudos to ESPN and YES for a fantastic job all around. The day started out with ESPN Classic. We caught parts of Boomer and Coney's perfect games, Brosius' heroics in game 5 of '01, and Boone's big blast in '03.

We watched, with great envy, the fans pouring in from 1:00 on, stopping at the monuments, walking on the warning track, and the best of all, leaving their hand prints on the outfield wall.

ESPN's team of Karl Ravich, John Kruk, Steve Berthiaume, and Steve Phillips reminisced and talked to a number of former Yankees and some celebrities too. Getting John Sterling to do his body shaking, "thaaaaaaaaaaaa Yankees win" was classic.

At about 6:00 the ceremonies began with a great surprise. A pre-recorded message from Bob Sheppard, who then introduced the two emcees for the night, Sterling and Michael Kay.

The ceremony began oddly, using actors to re-create the 1923 opening day lineup. We think it was no coincidence that they were in the deepest part of center field so no one could see their faces.

Next was a salute to the players and managers who had plaques in Monument Park. More actors to represent Joe DiMaggio, Red Ruffing, Lefty Gomez, and Casey Stengel (the actor looked eerily like the Ol' Professor from the distance).

Each position on the field was saluted with a video montage and then an introduction of the past players from that position.

LF - Dave Winfield, Roy White

SS - Cora Rizzuto representing the Scooter,

3B - Graig Nettles, Scott Brosius

RF - Reggie Jackson, Paul O'Neill, Randy Maris representing his Dad

2B - Willie Randolph, who provided one of the highlights by sliding into second base, Bobby Richardson

1B - Moose Skowron, Tino Martinez

C - Yogi Berra, Joe Girardi, Michael Munson representing his Dad, Cheryl Howard representing her Dad

P - Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Helen Hunter representing her husband, David Wells, David Cone

CF - David Mantle representing his Dad, Kay, Todd, and Tori Murcer representing their husband and Dad, and then the biggest moment of the night. Bernie Williams, donning the Pinstripes for the first time in 2 years, returning to Yankee Stadium. Bern Baby Bernie received a raucous standing ovation for 2 minutes.

Notably absent was the inclusion of Roger Clemens in the pitching montage. And there was no real salute to the managers, which left out Joe Torre, Ralph Houk, and Buck Showalter.

The starting lineups were then introduced with each player joining the greats at their position. It also provided comic relief since Johnny Damon didn't realize what was going on and didn't have his cleats on. He quickly ran back to the clubhouse, put them on, and raced out to the field, the wrong field at that. They told him to go to left field even though he was playing center field, which only confused him further.

After the lineups were introduced, Derek Jeter, joined by his parents and sister, was presented with a Waterford crystal bat and ball, by Hal and Jennifer Steinbrenner (Swindal), to commemorate him becoming the all-time hits leader at Yankee Stadium.

The Babe's 92-yr old daughter, Julia Ruth Stevens, through out the first pitch to Jorge Posada, and then it was game time.

The Yankees won 7-3, more on that later, and then there were more festivities. Derek Jeter and his team gathered on the mound, and the Captain spoke to the fans. Thanks to Peter Abraham for the transcription of the speech,

“Every member of this organization, past and present, has been calling this place home for 85 years, There’s a lot of tradition, a lot of history and a lot of memories. Now the great thing about memories is you’re able to pass it along from generation to generation.

“Although things are going to change next year. We’re going to move across the street. There are a few things that New York Yankees that never change. That’s pride, tradition and most of all we have the greatest fans in the world.

We want you to take the memories from this stadium, add them to the new memories that come at the new Yankee Stadium and continue to pass them along from generation to generation. So on behalf of the entire organization, we want to take this moment to salute you, the greatest fans in the world.”

The players then took a lap around the Stadium, waving to the fans, who like them, didn't want to go home. Players did interviews with the media and scooped up dirt from the batter's box, the mound, and the bullpen, and took photos (would love to have the Bernie, Tino, Derek, Jorge, Mo, Andy photo).

Finally everyone went home and went to sleep. They had already lived a dream.

No comments:

Post a Comment