New York Yankees Old Timers’ Day
One of my favorite traditions in sports was renewed today. It was the 65th annual Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium – a day when a team with tradition like no other honors their past greats in a style no other could match.
Old Timers’ Day represents one of the big reasons why I love the Yankees as much as I do. I love the class with which they operate. I love that in a day like today the Yankees take the time to bring back players from the forties, fifties, sixties and straight up through today. To see each baseline adorned with past Yankees, both the hall of famers and the less remembered, is something truly special. It’s a statement from the Yankees that says that they won’t forget what made this team what it is today.
Highlights of this year’s Old Timers’ Day was the return of Bernie Williams and Joe Torre to the stadium. Bernie took the field to immense applause, though that reaction was dwarfed by the several minutes of applause that followed Torre’s appearance on the field. It was a great sight to see two members of the Yankees, who’s time in pinstripes ended less than gracefully, back in the Stadium. Yogi Berra, the last Old Timer to take the field today, was, as always, greeted with one of the largest ovations of the day. I always love this part of Old Timers’ Day. The four foot, six inch (I’m not positive those numbers are entirely accurate) catcher is such a huge part of the Yankees past and present. He is always welcomed by the fans in a huge way. Which is a credit to the Yankees, who makes the team’s history a part of its operation today. I mean, how many people in the stadium today actually witnessed Berra play? The prime of this ten time World Series champion’s career was roughly 55 years ago! But that doesn’t so much matter. He’s a beloved Yankee, so we cheer him.
After all the names had been called the Yankees took time to honor the team’s long time trainer Gene Monahan. The beloved member of the Yankee clubhouse, who will retire at the end of this season, has spent almost fifty years in baseball, one of the only constants in the tumultuous reign of George Steinbrenner. In true Yankee style, the boys in pinstripes pulled out all the stops and presented Monahan with numerous gifts, including a brand new Ford F-150. You’ve gotta love this. I mean come on, how many organizations honor their trainer? I love it.
After all the ceremony ended, it was time for the Old Timers’ Day game. In a lukewarmly contested ball game Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez were, just like the old days, the difference. With one out Bernie hit a booming double to left that split the gap and rolled all the way to the wall. He cruised it into second, taking advantage of one of the outfielders stopping for oxygen. Two batters later David Cone grooved one to Tino who blasted it six rows deep in the right field stands. This is when I started to think that maybe Yankee Stadium is too much of a home run palace. Regardless of that fact however, it was a great moment in Old Timers’ Day history.
All in all it was a great day for the Yankees. A great tradition renewed and some great Yankees remembered. The day was capped off by a Yankee win. Nick Swisher, who loves Old Timers’ Day more than most players, homered, as did will be Old Timer Jorge Posada. Mariano Rivera struck out the side to finish the game, keeping the Yankees in first place over the Sox. Another great Old Timers’ Day at the stadium.