Thursday, February 7, 2008

If These Walls Could Talk...

It's not the Coliseum. It's not the Tower of London. It's not even the Statue of Liberty.

Yet, even so, when I read the plan is to tear down Yankee Stadium, I still feel my stomach tighten, my eyes get a little moist, my composure shakes a bit...

My first thought is not about how I'll miss being able to go to games there or how I'll likely never get to witness history at the old Yankee Stadium, but instead, my first thought is:

What about the ghosts? Where will they go? They need a home, too.

I am not obsessed with the supernatural, but it's not a lie for me to say that I do believe in ghosts. There's just too much about baseball that can't be explained least, not in a way that sticks with me. I mean, how else do you explain the Chicago Cubs?

I think of the ghosts and I think of how, if you tear down these walls, the ghosts will have no shelter from the winter winds. We hope, of course, they'll come with us just across the street, but something in my mind tells me: ghosts don't move their haunts.

My second thought, and the one that overrides the first, that consumes it, is that tearing down Yankee Stadium is tearing down history. It's saying we don't need the history exist here anymore, the memory of it is good enough for us.

Memories will not leave us--I've said this before--not while we have our cameras, our videos, our own methods of recollection, but over time, they fade.

We can live the memories because we've been there, we've been in the solid steel and concrete of the stands, we've felt the August sun and the October moon. We can tell our children about them, our grandchildren as well, and maybe even our great-grandchildren...

...but sooner or later, we turn to dust, and then all we have are the memories. There's no place for our children (if you're as young as I am), our grandchildren or our great-grandchildren to live them.

You can tell someone about the magic of Ruth, of Gehrig, of DiMaggio, of Berra, of Mantle, of Jackson, of Jeter...but it's not the same when you're not there. There's no question about it.

There is perhaps nothing that binds us together, as Yankees fans, or is such a large part of our being as Yankee Stadium.

If baseball is America's pastime, Yankee Stadium is America's ballpark. There are other historic parks, like Wrigley and Fenway, but there is nothing like Yankee Stadium. I know I sound like the obnoxious Yankee fan when I say it, but there's no other ballpark that's played host to 26 championship teams...and in baseball, home-field advantage actually matters.

Time moves forward, and we can't change it. The facilities at Yankee Stadium are old, and there's no doubt, that at least from a sanitary and safety point of view, a new stadium is needed.

Why should we feel as though we have to tear down the old, though? Why should we feel that it's okay to tear down history? Because other teams have done it?

Yankee Stadium need not be an empty shell; keep it, keep the field, use it as a park...maybe the Little League team or that middle school team from the Bronx can use it as their home park?

What about it?

Imagine it, the eleven year-old boy with mossy hair and the scraggly, lanky body, who can barely lift the bat over his shoulder comes up to bat with two out in the bottom of the ninth, the team's best runner on second, his team down by one, the burly thirteen year-old pitcher from some other team (maybe one in Queens), sets, pitches, there's a crack of the bat that echoes through the empty stands, giving rise to the ghosts, rise to the memories...


  1. Excellent, excellent post. My feelings exactly. It's not just Yankees history it's BASEBALL history. It's Ruth, Gehrig, Ford, Mantle, Jeter flipping into the stands, etc etc etc. The Pope and the Beatles. It's the fans being close to the action and having great views even up in the third tier. And this is all taken away why? So that the Yankees can fit in a few more luxury boxes?

    Have you ever seen Ken Burns' 'Baseball' when Ebbets Field was destroyed? The destruction of Yankee Stadium is something that you won't want to watch. Boston fans will actually cheer. It will be devastating.

  2. Anon--my understanding is that the Yankees are actually trying to save the old stadium--they applied for it to have landmark status, but those in charge refused, citing the renovations in the 1970s made it too young.

    which is totally not right, imo.

  3. I prefer to think that the Tower of London is no Yankee Stadium.

  4. sorry this doesnt have to do with the post, but for your poll, wheres the WE STILL HAVE MELKY!!! option??? (i settled for WHOO though)

  5. mantlemurcer, ah but you didn't write your thesis on medieval/renaissance England... =D

  6. Rebecca, as always great post, but is it really necessary to appeal to your thesis on Medieval/Renaissance England to make your point? Please don't misunderstand me, I generally enjoy your posts and your contributions to various blogs in Yankee Land, but(imho)the discussions following your postings would be better served without reminding your readers of the fact that you're writing a thesis when someone questions your points (e.g., your response to mantlemurcer). Your not the only one to have written a thesis on Medieval England or attend grad school. ;-)