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The Story of the Year

14.12.2008 19:30
The Story of the Year - Yankee Stadium - Story of the Year - Yogi Berra - Jose Molina - Baseballs - Jersey

Story of the Year, Part 1: Yankee Stadium

The Things We Forget, Part 1: Yankee Stadium The legendary venue closed down in 2008.

Teammates had filled the space in front of his locker with baseballs, jerseys, photographs and lineup cards, and he was making treasures out of ordinary objects by writing his name on them. That night, even the heroes in the room had given themselves permission to believe in the things they used to believe in, to be kids again.

The first time I visited Yankee Stadium was on a family trip from Ontario. I was a kid, 14 or so, and I don’t remember much. My only genuine memory is of a food vendor; I wanted one of those big pretzels.

“I got one,” the vendor said, “but it’s not hot.”

To me that meant it was warm, which was fine. I gave him my money. He gave me a frozen pretzel.

“I don’t want this,” I said. “You touched it,” he said. “It’s yours.”

That was the end of our negotiation. I sulked in my blue plastic seat and sucked on my particle. It remains the single worst food item I’ve ever eaten, and I was pretty upset about it at the time. But that pretzel is the only reason I remember my first time at the Stadium. It’s the only ticket stub I have from that night.

The last game at Yankee Stadium was different. Everyone who was there will keep some small part of Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008, in their head or heart for the rest of their life. They might not remember the trivia of it: that the Yankees beat the Orioles 73; that Jose Molina hit the park’s final home run; that it was over when Brian Roberts grounded to first. But they’ll remember how it felt to be there. They’ll remember it the way we remember people and places that meant something to us but now are gone as a collage of sights and sounds and smells that our brain has decided is worth keeping and that we have no power to edit or erase. The only universal truth about memories is that we’re all younger in them than we are now. Memories were.

Before the game, the Yankees brought Yogi Berra to sit in front of reporters and share his stories. Yogi is 83 years old Yankee Stadium was two when he was born and he looked all of it. A yellowed, vintage uniform didn’t help. “They say this was the kind of uniform we played in,” he said, pinching the front of the baggy jersey between thick fingers. “I don’t remember this one. We had wool uniforms, but nothing like this.” Everybody laughed. Truth is, Berra doesn’t remember himself in sepia. What we’ve seen in black and white, he remembers in color. “I think of all the teammates I had…” he said, leaving the thought unfinished because it could end only with those friends in the ground and Yankee Stadium Yankee Stadium! About to be trucked to a land fills.

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