The first baseball game I ever attended was Game 6 of the 1996 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves. I had some knowledge of the meaning of the game, being only 8 years old at the time, but living through the experience retroactively, I’ve concluded that the electricity I felt that night at Yankee Stadium is something I will never experience again.
It’s not a regular game. It is intense, it is drama-filled, it is engaging. Everyone is there to watch the game and are on the edge of their seats. They moan at bad calls, no matter how small, and cheer exuberantly at the favorable ones, even those that seem insignificant. The sheer power of people jumping made the stadium feel like it was going to collapse upon itself. You feel elation with every small victory and defeat with every error.
Moving forward and attending more World Series games, out of the shadow of what was my first big league experience, the following World Series games were more routine and demanding than my first one. In 1999 I knew what I was in for and didn’t have the same excitement. I got to Roger Clemens pitch, and Chad Curtis catch the last out as Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada celebrated on the mound. It was a game that I was expecting. Right in the middle of the Yankee dynasty. The crowd had great expectations and they were fulfilled. The underdog mentality of 1996 was gone, and with it, that much loved electricity.
The following year I went to Game 1 of the World Series between the New York Mets and New York Yankees. That was very special. The traffic was unbearable and we left 4 hours before the game started. The rivalry made that game special. The game itself was an instant classic and went 13 innings. I remember Timo Perez getting thrown out at home. I remember rooting hard and cheering, knowing the situation and the mixed crowd. It felt like my voice was needed that much more.
By 2003, the Yankees were facing Josh Beckett and the Florida Marlins. Every ounce of Magic of being the underdog at this point was gone. We were expecting to win, it was a given. The stadium didn’t have the same electricity, but the intensity was still there. There were still the audible groans, the complete devoted attention, and the desire. David Wells pitched and I remember the Bleacher Creatures chanting his name in the bottom of the first inning. It was not as memorable as the clinching games, but I’m aware of my luck to be at four such games.
All in all, going to the World Series is nothing like going to a regular season game. Every pitch is paid attention to by 60,000 fans. Every strike call is debated. Every person in the building is paying attention, anxious, hopeful, and yelling when the moment calls for it. It’s an intensity that can’t be matched by a regular season game. The game, the night, the atmosphere is special and needs to be experienced firsthand by every baseball fan. My words alone do not do it justice.