One final walk into the place many people have called home for years. One last chance to see the Yankees play in the Cathedral. One last time to say goodbye to something that most of my generation has grown up with.
Me and Sooz drove down to the Stadium early, around 4 p.m. and it didn't hit me for a little while after we were already there that this was really it. Most of the Bleacher Creature regulars were all in the normal spot having a few drinks, and just reminiscing about the memories and having a good time hanging out. We hung out for a couple of hours before heading in, and then it hit us. This was the last time we would ever walk into Yankee Stadium.
I have to admit, I watched more of the actual building for about 4 hours than I did of anything else. I just wanted to look at everything and make sure I didn't leave anything out. I took close to 200 pictures of a place I had probably been to 500 times in my life. You get spoiled living so close to the Stadium and having season tickets that you take things for granted. Not last night. I captured it all with my mind, and my camera. I got to share it with my best friend, and a group of people that I have come to know over the past 3 seasons of sitting in the bleachers. I made a lot of friends out there, and had a lot of good times.
For me, the best part of the night was watching the players that I grew up watching come out for one final time to take the field, and of course seeing the team come out for one final time. They announced Tino and the Stadium erupted, everyone chanting 'Tino, Tino, Tino'. Then came the Paul O'Neil chant... and then the best ovation of the night. 'Centerfield, number 51, Bernie Williams, number 51', as it was always announced by Bob Shepard. The place went crazy, Bernie got the longest ovation at about 2 minutes according to ESPN. Bernie, like Tino and Paul, saluted the Bleacher Creatures specifically. We grew up with the Yankees of the 90's, cheering for them, chanting their names, and some of us collecting their baseball cards. Pettitte was called out for a curtain call last night, which was the first time I have seen a pitcher receive a curtain call. Of course, Derek Jeter was given the proper ovation and respect both at the beginning, and again in the 9th inning. When Jeter came off the field he got a standing ovation as he ran into the dugout. Mariano Rivera waited behind the mound until Jeter came out for the curtain call he earned, and he deserved.
One thing you can say about the Yankees core that came up through the farm system is that they all stick together, they all have earned the respect and admiration of the fans as well as respect from each other. Say what you will about the Yankees, but you can't take the pride, history, and respect from this organization.
The end of the game came and went, and we were all still there. Some of us taking pictures of the post-game festivities, some crying, some laughing, and some just awestruck that it was over. We stayed until they kicked us out. We stayed until we felt like we captured it all. The worst part I think was standing at the gate knowing that once we crossed the line, we could never, ever go back. It was a chapter in our lives, a chapter in sports and Yankees history, that we all closed together.
I just thought I would share a little bit of my random thoughts and random pictures. We hope you enjoy the pictures, and would love to see or hear anything you got.