Sunday, August 31, 2008

Matt's Yankee Stadium Memories: Part III

In a way, it is perhaps better for the memory of Yankee Stadium that the final season go out with a whimper, rather than a bang. Fans can then focus not on the daily grind of the present team, but on the past glory the stadium symbolizes. For me, this includes my series that remembers the games I've attended in the House that Ruth built. My dad, an avid reader of Immaculate Inning, pointed out that there were two games I've already passed over, from those dark days on the boundary of memory and vague impression. We then also discovered that I completely blew it in my last entry.

It was probably because of how mediocre the early-90s Yankees were, but my father doesn't remember much about those early games either. He insists we attended two other games, in addition to the Bat Day game in 1991. At one of them, the only thing my dad remembered was that Tim Leary faced Ron Darling, because he remembered saying to me "This is what the Yankees have come to- former Mets facing off!" Indeed, the former Mets pitchers faced off on May 16, 1992. The Yankees lost 6-3, thanks to a 5-run fifth inning that included RBIs from Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco.

At the other game, we sat behind the first base dugout, about twenty rows back. Neither of us can remember any details about the game, so we can't pinpoint it. The only tangible memory is a ball I took home from the game-- no, not a heroically caught foul ball, but instead dropped by another kid as he ran up the stairs during batting practice. I watched the ball bounce towards me and the kid kept going. "Pick it up!" my dad whispered at me. I would have given the ball back, but the kid never returned.

As I went through my apartment, and my dad went through my room at home, looking to see if I had any memorabilia from that mysterious game. We never found anything, but instead I found this:

And I immediately thought of all the honest readers I've misled here at the Immaculate Inning. You see, I knew that my FBLA club had gotten rain check tickets to a Yankees game that occured late in my senior year of high school. I thought for sure the opposing team had been the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I was mistaken; the game occured a month later and was against the Baltimore Orioles. I admit that somehow, the details of that Rays game never matched up, but I did remember multiple home runs to right field, where I was sitting, including one from Jason Giambi. What mislead me was that the Rays game also featured a Giambi home run.

In the game I really attended, the no-name pitcher was not the Rays' Travis Harper, but the Yankees' starting pitcher, Mike Thurman. In his first season in the Yankees' orginization, after several years with Montreal, Thurman made two spot starts for the 2002 Yankees, in some of the final major league action of his career. In this game they didn't get too much from Thurman, who coughed up a three run lead in the fifth inning, and was quickly replaced by Ramiro Mendoza. The Yankees then put the game away in the sixth against Scott Erickson, including that Jason Giambi home run that landed one section to my right. The Yankees then homered twice more in the inning; Robin Ventura was the one that put one directly over my head into the mezzanine.

I suppose that the lesson is that even the best stories can be derailed by inaccurate memories. Rob Neyer wrote a whole book based on that, although I wasn't playing in the games, I just saw them. Or I think I saw them, anyway... at any rate I sincerely apologize for misleading you, the noble reader. In the next few weeks, as Yankee Stadium comes to a close, I will be offering my memories of my final two games in the House that Ruth Built. These came within the last five years and my memory is considerably less fallible. Stay tuned!

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