Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
So they opened the new Yankee Stadium yesterday. It’s big, it’s beautiful – but it’s not quite there. Can you walk across the street and bring the history of the old Yankee Stadium? Of course not. Can you walk across the street and bring the ghosts of yesteryear (or even 10 years ago)? Probably not.
But hey, they’ve got more urinals, a bigger Jumbotron and you can buy sushi!!! If you can afford it. Like Madison Square Garden before it, the Yankee crowd has become more of a corporate crowd. It’s not as bad as the Garden has become, but only because you can fit three times as many people at the Stadium as at the Garden. So, although they’ve priced out many people (and that’s before the absurd parking, program and food prices), it will give the façade (no pun intended) of being in the pre-1974 Stadium. But no matter what they do, they can’t bring back the glory of the old Stadium (unless and until they win a few (not just one) World Series).
WHERE THE GREATS ONCE PLAYED
And don’t ever forget that, until now, you could take your kid, as your father took you, as his father took him, to the real Yankee Stadium and say the following: “Son, see out there in rightfield, that’s where Babe Ruth once played.” Or, “Son, see out there in centerfield, that’s where Joe Dimaggio and Mickey Mantle once roamed.” Or, “Son, see over there at first base, that’s where Lou Gehrig used to stand.”
So, you have a young kid now or you’ll have one born in the next few years and in two or five or ten or fifteen years from now you will take your child to the new Yankee Stadium and you will say, “Son [or Daughter], you know about the history of the Yankees, about Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and Joe Dimaggio and Mickey Mantle, you know all about them, right? Well, they once played, they once played, they once played … across the street.” Good grief.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, BAT DAY?
As if to make matters worse, much has been made of the fact that there are many less “promotion” days this year, presumably because of the recession (depression?). Well, with the list out now and still with a few promotion days where the promotion is “TBD” (to be determined), there’s no Bat Day. No Bat Day? This is Yankee Stadium?
But even Bat Day ain’t what it used to be. Once upon a time, when, you know, kids actually USED wood bats, everybody would beg, borrow or steal to get into the old Yankee Stadium to get a bat. Then they would go home, get the bat laminated and place it on their mantel over the fireplace to hang forever. Right? WRONG. Back in the 1960s into the 70s, kids actually got a bat at Bat Day and took it home and played baseball with it. You know, on the street, in the park, in the Little League. I grew up in the Inwood section of upper Manhattan and went to Bat Day every year and don’t know anybody who “saved’ their bat. Of course, none of us could really afford new bats. That’s why we went to Bat Day.
Nowadays, of course, and, frankly, for the last 25 years or so, with the advent of aluminum bats (pathetic), hardly anybody uses their wood bats. With the re-emergence of wood in some leagues, maybe kids (of Little League age) would actually take the bats and use them. But, of course, there isn’t even a Bat Day to date this year. Maybe somebody with a brain at Yankee Stadium can fix that.
DOES THE NEW YANKEE STADIUM REMIND OLD-TIMERS OF THE 1923-1973 YANKEE STADIUM?
You bet it does. But, what does that really mean? It’s kind of a phony feeling, frankly. What are you going to tell your kids? “Yeah, this is what it was like.” What does that mean? I don’t think the ghosts of Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio and Mantle are coming across the street. I’m not even sure that the ghosts of Martinez, O’Neill, Williams and Brosius are coming across the street.
And, as a life-long Yankee fan, I hope I’m wrong.
HOW ABOUT THOSE OBSTRUCTED SEATS?
Can you believe that, in the 21st Century, they can actually build a Stadium with obstructed seats? Well, believe it, cause that’s what happened. With the greatest architects and the greatest planners and the greatest contractors, they actually have hundreds (thousands?) of seats where you can’t see a lot of the field. But, hey, they’re cheap, so maybe poor people can come to the Stadium. Yeah, maybe they can actually watch the game – from somewhere else. Unbelievable.
WHAT GOOD IS A BIGGER, BETTER JUMBOTRON IF THEY DON’T SHOW ALL THE REPLAYS?
For years, big-time Yankee fans have complained that the Yankees would never show replays of plays that were bad for the Yankees — the great catch by an opponent, the pitch right down the middle that’s called against the Yankees, the bang-bang play that hurts the Yankees, the long home run by an opponent. It’s one of the least enjoyable (and most aggravating) things about actually going to a game at Yankee Stadium. So maybe, this year, the Yankees will decide to show replays for both sides so, you know, baseball fans can see the baseball play again. It’s beautiful that you can see a bigger, clearer picture – but how valuable is it if the Yankees continue to censor what’s actually being shown to a captive audience? We’ll see.
WHO’S THROWING OUT THE FIRST BALL?
It would be great if the Yankees could trot out, one final time, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra for the first ball on the real Opening Day. Maybe Whitey can’t throw it and maybe Yogi can’t catch it anymore, but, hopefully, they can both be on the field if healthy enough. Also, it would be great if Bob Sheppard (is he “retired” or not?) could at least announce, even from a distance, the starting line-ups, if nothing else.
Those two things would remind people of the glory days as much as (or more than) anything else.
SO, WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US?
Well, it leaves us with an over-priced (tickets, parking, programs, food) stadium that purports to be just like the old Yankee Stadium. Can the new one ever take the place of the old one? Of course not. Will it have a heart, a pulse, an excitement that equals that of the old Yankee Stadium? Well, yeah, it will – when the Yankees unfurl another World Series banner or two. And not before.
We’ll see how it goes.
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.