Closing Down the Cathedral

Hallowed ground. The cathedral of baseball. Call it what you will; Yankee Stadium cannot be replaced. Sure, they’ll build a newer stadium across 161st Street and call it New Yankee Stadium, but it will not be the same.

Yankee Stadium is not merely another baseball park. No, it’s engrained in baseball history and heritage. Its mark on baseball lore is undeniable.

It’s haunted by ghosts — ghosts so deeply entrenched in the history of the sport that it’s impossible to separate fact from fiction, myth from reality.

This stadium has seen so much. “If these walls could talk” takes on an epic new meaning when talking about Yankee Stadium. It’s hard to imagine the New York Yankees calling another park home.

But, so the cliché goes, all good things must come to an end. The same is true for baseball stadiums.

The history of Yankee Stadium is well documented. The fourth stadium the Yankees called home, Yankee Stadium, was built within sight of the Polo Grounds, the Manhattan stadium where the Yankees played until the New York Giants, the stadium’s primary tenant, asked the Yankees to find a new home.

They did, and on opening day 1923, Babe Ruth launched a home run, the first of many at the new Yankee Stadium.

“I’d give a year of my life if I can hit a home run in the first game in this new park,” Ruth is quoted as saying before the game. No one ever accused Ruth of not having a flair for the dramatic.

“I hit the first home run at Yankee Stadium; God only knows who will hit the last,” the Bambino is quoted as saying.

That would be the slightly less-heralded Yankee Jose Molina.

The list of notable events that have taken place on this baseball diamond is numerous — too many to count, in fact. Perhaps, the list begins with Babe Ruth’s 60th home run on Oct. 8, 1927. Maybe it’s Don Larsen’s perfect game on Oct. 8, 1956, which remains the only World Series no-hitter. Or Roger Maris’ then-record-setting 61st home run on Oct. 1, 1961, a record that some fans still recognize as the single series home run record.

In a scene that proves the man upstairs has a sense of humor, David Cone, on July 18, 1999, threw a perfect game. That same day, Larsen threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Yogi Berra, the man who caught Larsen in the 1956 World Series.

Coincidence? Regardless, it only adds to the mystique surrounding Yankee Stadium.

Frankly, it could be any number of other no-hitters, World Series Championships or dramatic home runs by the countless heroes that have played for the New York Yankees since they called The Big Apple Home starting in 1903.

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About Todd DeFeo 1651 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is the owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and Railfanning.org.