Having been a lifelong Yankee fan, I have been lucky to witness a lot of really great events in person but one of my favorite days of the season is definitely Old Timers Day. Getting to see so many players back in the Stadium is really fun and when you realize just how much talent has been assembled, it’s pretty astounding – Yogi Berra alone has ten World Series rings. That’s better than most franchises.
There were a lot of the regulars who have been at Old Timer’s Day in recent years – Bill “Moose” Skowron, Dr. Bobby Brown, Oscar Gamble, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford but we had some newcomers make their first appearance. Namely, Bernie Williams, Joe Torre and Lou Piniella.
It was great to see Bernie and Loooooooooou. And even though I’m still a tad angry at Joe Torre for writing his book, it was still nice to see him yesterday.
Now, I’m going to admit something I’ve never admitted before, I usually tear up as soon as they start announcing the Old Timers’ names and when they finally get to Yogi – because he’s usually introduced last – the tears will start falling from my eyes.
Yesterday was a little more special because the Yankees chose to honor longtime head trainer Gene Monahan who is retiring at the end of the season after 49 years with the organization. They had him throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Old Timer’s game and then surprised him with a ceremony of his own.
The Yankees showed a tribute video on the big screen chronicling his career with the Yankees – complete with statements from players and coaches and ownership. (And yes, I cried.) Then they presented him with gifts. It was like an impromptu “Gene Monahan Day.” He looked both excited and terrified at the same time. Monahan doesn’t seem like the type of man who feels comfortable when attention is thrust upon him.
The Old Timer’s game itself was actually pretty exciting. There were some well struck balls that made it to the warning track and the one that made it out of the park was a home run to right by Tino Martinez that drove in Bernie Williams – Williams hit a double to the warning track off David Wells. Oh, and Tino’s home run was off of David Cone. Wait, is it 2001 again? That home run ended up being the difference in the game and the Bombers beat the Clippers 2-0.
Things that made me laugh during the game
- Jeff Nelson throwing as if he were called into a game in the 2000 World Series
- Jesse Barfield hit a ball to left field that rolled all the way to the wall and only made it to first – he’s had knee problems in the past so we”ll forgive him for that
- David Wells throwing behind Mickey Rivers
- Tino’s home run – because my brother called it
- David Cone’s reaction to Tino’s home run
- Goose Gossage also pitching as if it were an actual game – you could hear the ball popping into the catcher’s mitt
- The crowd booing Suzyn Waldman – one guy in my section in particular seemed really upset that she would be doing the play by play for the Old Timer’s game
- The PA guy playing “Disco Inferno” after Bernie’s double
Some final thoughts about yesterday:Â I was very happy to see Mel Stottlemyre and that he looks healthy. Same goes for Moose Skowron who has been battling lung cancer and it was good to see him as well. It’s always nice to see Jerry Coleman make the trip from San Diego to take part in the festivities. And does it ever get old clapping and cheering for Yogi Berra? I’ll answer that for you. No, it doesn’t.
My hands may be sore from clapping, my voice may be raw from cheering but I feel so honored that I get to witness a little bit of Yankee history every single year at Old Timer’s Day and I wish that every Yankee fan could get to experience it, at least one time in their lives.