Growing up I never believed anything could be better than sitting in Yankee Stadium watching an already legendary team, attempting to win another World Series. What young boy had never dreamed of watching the New York Yankees play in the World Series? That was until one brisk fall night in 1998 when I took my father to his first ever World Series game, and I realized life had more to throw at me than a Mariano Rivera fastball.
My dad grew up north of New York City on a farm, was a determined hard worker and a devout Yankees fan. He never attended many games in his life, maybe a little intimidated by the Bronx traffic, or was always too busy working two jobs to make ends meet. I grew up loving the Yankees because of him and was fortunate enough as a kid to go to a few games on trips with friends. In 1998 I was a young 20 something, just starting a career, moving into a new apartment, and thought I was living the dream. At this point I was more worried about watching the Yankee game under the “neon moon” than I was watching them in my parents living room. I had become friends with a successful guy named Dave through volunteer work we both did, and Dave’s company had Yankee season tickets to die for. He was a generous guy and had given me tickets before, and tickets four rows behind first base made me think I was really living the dream. Dave called me early one morning and told me he had two tickets available for game two of the World Series and I immediately answered yes, I want them. He said wait, unfortunately for the World Series seats, you have to pay for them, which of course I agreed to, even though at the time they were probably a half a weeks paycheck. I didn’t care, it didn’t matter, all day I was nervously excited to tell my dad I was taking him to the World Series. It was an unexpected gesture for my dad, I think he thought I would take a friend, but I knew inside the only person I wanted to be there with was him.
The ride into the Bronx was spent on me trying to avoid the topic of how much money I spent on the tickets. My dad was understandably worried about my young hard partying ways and my freedom with throwing around money I really didn’t have. It didn’t matter to me, for a reason I wouldn’t know until later, this was a night I wanted with him. We arrived and parked on River Street which I had done before, and I think he was a little impressed I knew my way around and I wasn’t his little boy anymore. We went in plenty early to take in the sights and sounds of the World Series. Walking down to field level was a dream, the usher just kept going down closer and closer to the field, I knew my father had never gotten this close, and I eagerly watched his reaction.
Everything is better for a World Series game, the tickets are more colorful, the stadium lights are brighter, and the grass IS greener. Yankee Stadium is a special place, but it was even more special when we saw the World Series logo painted behind home plate. We sat down early, four rows behind first base, and a waiter took our drink order. My father bought us two beers, the first two we had ever shared together. We watched in amazement as Derek Jeter and Tino Martinez had a pre game catch right in front of us, my father commented on how much bigger the players seemed in person than on television. The Yankees took the field against the San Diego Padres, seeking their 24th World Series Championship, on a beautiful night in New York City that would not let us down.
Orlando Hernandez started for the Yankees that night and I was more content on seeing my father watch the Yankees win than I was on my own enjoyment of the game. His eyes were as wide as a child’s on Christmas morning, as he clung onto every pitch. The Yankees came out slugging and were up 7-0 by the end of the third inning, making a great night even more magical. We watched as Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada homered and got to see what would be the swan song of Scott Brosius’s career. The Yankees were great that night, but the beauty of an Autumn night in the Bronx was better. October 18, 1998 the New York Yankees would beat the San Diego Padres 9-3 and would go on to sweep the Series and win their 24th World Series.
My father and I drove home like many other nights, getting lost trying to get out of stadium traffic, yelling at each other about which way to go, but the memory would live on forever. My father passed away a couple of years later, still a young man, and we never got the chance to go to another Yankee game together. I would never change that night for anything and I realized why I needed to be there with him, I started to realize that it was our field of dreams, it was our World Series.