Baseball―America’s beloved national pastime, complete with history, tradition, and folklore dating back to the summer of 1839―has inhabited my heart since the age of three. I partook in Little League, attempting to emulate players like Ryne Sandberg and Roger Clemens; obviously failing, but the passion remained. Through the years I’ve visited eight ballparks, witnessed milestones, record-breakers, and World Series. I’ve bought my share of peanuts and Cracker Jacks, but one particular night there would be no “root, root, root for the home team,” because there wasn’t one. This was the 2008 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium.
Last minute, my buddy Andrew and I decided to go. Exploring secondhand ticket websites proved worthless. Sellers outrageously overcharged, so the game plan quickly became clear: seek out “un-licensed ticket brokers” on 161st street. A risk in many ways, but figured we’d get tickets or worst case scenario: watch it on television at Stan’s Sports Bar across from the Stadium while downing a few brews.
The recipe for success when traveling from Staten Island to the Bronx was and always will be― train-ferry-train. You save gas, tolls, and parking fees, avoid bumper to bumper on I-87, and most importantly, can enjoy a beverage or two sans the designated driver.
Upon arrival, plan “A” came to fruition. We located a “broker” near an entrance gate and within two minutes, negotiated a reasonable price (Never pay initial asking price. Think of it like buying a car.)
We entered to a serenade of the National Anthem as the Stealth Bomber flew overhead, rocking the entire stadium. Amongst the “Bleacher Creatures” we sat and to my surprise each seat came equipped with a special All-Star insignia seat cushion; pleasing me since I no longer needed to purchase a souvenir. I sat down, perused the crowd, cheered Jeter and Mariano, booed the Sox, and smiled. It was time to play ball…
It’s only fitting Yankee Stadium’s final year of existence provided one of the most memorable/longest All-Star games in history. This was the house that Ruth Built; the place where “Mr. October” was raised and “Holy Cows” were praised. This magical stadium didn’t want the game to end and neither did we. The 2002 debacle assured there would be no tie so my favorite Yogi-ism applied: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
15 innings, 5 hours, 3 Dan Uggla errors, a 2-run homer by J.D. Drew, and a walk-off sacrifice fly later, the game was over. The American League won and Yankee Stadium’s grand finale was complete. The experience of that night is something I will cherish forever.