Yankee Stadium is one of the most iconic images of old school American baseball. Some of the greatest names that ever played dressed in those locker rooms and sweated on that field. It’s big and obnoxious and the site of some of the most unholy moments in baseball – especially for Red Sox fans like myself. Just looking at images of Yankee Stadium can make you want to retch when thinking about the 2003 ALCS.
But I have to admit, Yankee Stadium is a magical place. Tearing down the park is like turning over the graves at Gettysburg. It is a historic battlefield. Ghosts walk those grounds. In fact, I think New Yorkers should try to register the site as a National Battlefield. I checked this morning and there are more than 250 Historical Landmarks listed in New York City. I can’t believe Yankee Stadium is not one of them.
The plan is to build a stadium that replicates the one that exists today. It will seat about three thousand fewer fans and have the same dimensions as the current stadium. But it loses the history.
As a Boston fan, I take pride in our rivalry with New York. The city is undisputedly a “better” metropolis than Boston. It has fashion week. Wall Street. The MOMA. The New York Stock Exchange. Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty. Six times the amount of people. Frank Sinatra even wrote a song about it. New York casts a big shadow over Boston – that’s why we’re always pushing for some time in the sun.
New Englanders are a hard working, trash talking, hardcore, hard-assed people fueled by decades of disappointment and second citizen status. That’s why it means so much more to us when we beat New Yorkers at anything – even if it only means beating them on the field.
But with plans to tear down the Stadium, it feels like they are taking down more than just concrete and steel beams. I am going to miss hating Yankee Stadium. And hating the new one won’t count. There’s not the same emotional baggage associated with it. I am hoping the demolishing of the old stadium does not smooth over some of the longstanding bitterness between the two teams. I wouldn’t respect New Yorkers as much for it.
But perhaps more importantly, I hope this does not set a precedence for dismantling history. If they can tear down Yankee Stadium it means one day Fenway will be on the chopping block. They will say it is run down. They will say it is cost savings to build a new one. They will say it will benefit the team – that it will benefit the city. But I don’t buy it.
There is something special about sitting in those tight seats with partially obstructed views. There is something quite special about wondering who sat in those seats before me and considering who might be haunting our own stadium. So I am buying a ticket to New York this week so I can pay proper homage to the ballpark that plagued much of my childhood and a full eight decades of my grandparents’ lives. I would like to pay my respects to the stadium and the ghosts in residence with a beer and a tip of my Boston cap.