It was October of 1981, I was 9 years old and like many other kids my age, I had dreams of being a professional baseball player one day. On a particular Wednesday afternoon, I was walking home from school and upon entering the house, my dad asked “do you want to go to a baseball game tonight?” I was a little taken back and confused, baseball season was all but over, where are we going to go? “To Yankee Stadium,” he said. It turned out a friend of his was a season ticket owner that had placed payment on the seats he was entitled to purchase in advance, should the Yankee’s make the post-season. Unfortunately for Dad’s friend, he had to leave town to attend a funeral and was unable to make it to this game.
Well, fast forward a few hours and we arrived at the Stadium by subway. I had been to a a few ballgames in my young life, but this was different. There was an energy in the air like nothing I had ever seen before. Everything was different and everything you heard and saw let you know that this was the World Series from the beverage cups to the hats that the ticket ushers wore. This was the real deal and part of baseball history.
Game 2 was the L.A. Dodgers at the New York Yankees and these two teams employed players that would go on to be legends, some still active in the league today as coaches and managers. Pitching for the Yankee’s that evening was Tommy John. Other notable names in the lineup were Lou Piniella, Graig Nettles, Dave Winfield, Willie Randolph and Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson. On the other end of the field were equally as notable with Ron Cey, Steve Yeager, Steve Garvey, Dusty Baker and Fernando Valenzuela, though he didn’t pitch until the following night.
The stadium was packed with over 56,000 extremely passionate fans cheering on the Bronx Bombers, it was loud, it was exciting and something I will never forget. Throughout the stadium, there were signs, horns, cowbells, confetti, streamers and banners. There was extra security and police on hand, everything in sight said “World Series” and as surreal of an experience as it was, no one was hurt and nothing ever got out of hand. It was the pure essence of the game, the final matchup that would bring an end to a season that was scarred mid-season with a players strike.
The game itself was only part of the experience. The real thrill was being a part of it all and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. This was the most excitement and energy I have ever felt in one place before, and although the home team lost the Series in six games, it was still a part of baseball history. It was a chance in my young life to see a great sporting event in a historic venue that once housed such legends as Lou Gherig, Joe DiMaggio, Roger Maris and Babe Ruth. What a thrill it was!