Saturday, September 12, 2009


The way the media had been treating Derek Jeter's passing Lou Gehrig for first on the Yankees' all-time hit list, you would have thought the Captain was reaching 3000 hits. Or 4000. Maybe passing Pete Rose.

It was too much, and I've stayed on-point with that.

Now let me be very clear. It's not that I'm not proud to witness history - quite the contrary - but I thought it was too much.

I had two tickets to last night's Yankees/Orioles tilt in The Bronx and was pleased to take Sean with me. But then he didn't want to go.

Father and son had an emotional chat for a few minutes. The seven year-old was afraid of ruining dad's night by asking to leave early - which he knew he would (and I knew he would). There were a few other things but let's leave them between a confused dad and his even-more-confused boy.

I knew this was an important night for both of us, and it didn't disappoint. For us, it was dinner at Stew Leonard's in Yonkers with ice cream after (folks - screw the ballpark prices - everything cost me about $17). We scurried to the Stadium, among the raindrops but with reduced traffic (summer's over).

It's the little things that stand out to a boy (oh how I remember). He likes walking along 161st St, seeing the baseball images etched into the walls. We walked up to the Yankees Museum, which continues to get updated - a nice touch. He seems to be taking more notice of things - like the trophies, for instance. We also posed at the faux Yankees locker and I he had his picture taken. Then I joined him. You can see them in this gallery.

Somebody asked him why he was hugging me in the picture. He didn't answer. I understood.

We waited out the ran delay (about an hour and a half) by walking through the museum, and strolling the ballpark. I was proud of him. All night, there were no requests for food, no bathroom breaks, no boredom, and minimal complaining. We didn't leave until after 11:00. That's a long night for any baseball fan.

Sadly, the game wasn't over, nor would it be over until after we got home. Another rain delay added to the length.

We sat among the former members of Section 5 (Mick, Steve, newly-engaged Ed, and Jeremiah). There was a feel of excitement in the building, despite the rain, and a great roar for the starting lineups. Jeter's first time up resulted in a strike out.

His second time up resulted in history.

Blurry, but you can see the reaction of the fans.

The Yankees come out to meet Jeter.

I don't discount the magnitude of it. It is cool to see a record set in 1939 by one of the top five to ever play the sport be broken by someone who I'd like to believe Lou Gehrig would approve of. I paused at Gehrig's picture near Gate Four and pondered that on the way out.

Back the to the moment. It was euphoric, with a great roar of noise. It was also handled in the way that I prefer such things be done: with class. Jeter's fellow Yankees climbed out of the dugout to hug him (likely something that embarrassed him) but there were no fireworks. Nothing stupid. Just cheering fans and a good baseball moment. No speeches. Even some Orioles players clapping in their dugout. Perfect.

I wasn't even put off by the play-by-play calls of Michael Kay or John Sterling. That's saying something.

In Section 416, Sean hugged me tightly, proving that he understood what had happened, as I didn't need to say a word. He embraced the history with such happiness, but probably happiest that he and I saw it together.

An inning or so after the hit, wonderboy reporter Ryan Ruocco apppeared on the big screen hawking the brand-new Derek Jeter hit leader T-shirts and pennants, available at all Yankee Stadium shops. I thought that it might be a nice memento for Sean. Then I saw the prices. No thanks. He can keep his ticket stub.

Many nights I wear a pinstriped number two jersey to Yankees games - a tribute to Bobby Murcer and the number he wore during his final tenure as a player (1979-1983). For this one night, I wore it with a tip of the cap to Derek Jeter - now the all-time hits leader in the history of the New York Yankees.

No comments: