Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Close to Heaven

I sent this text message to my pastor tonight:

You have died and gone to heaven. Well done thy good and faithful servant. To be absent from the body is to be present at Yankee Stadium for the 2008 All Star game.

Being a man of the cloth he probably did not appreciate my text message. But being a baseball fan who grew up in the early sixties, he knows he is as close to heaven tonight as he will get as far as sporting events go. Somebody gave him tickets to this special happening and he and his wife and a couple of friends are at the epicenter of baseball tonight.

I think it takes a baseball fan close to my age and older to really appreciate the history of Yankee Stadium. For you younger folks, let me explain.

When I was a young boy we got three channels on our television. And they were fuzzy. We had to literally go outside to point the antenna in the direction of Columbus or Macon according to what channel we were watching to even watch a show.

Baseball came on television on Saturday afternoon. Period. During the summer we played Little League on Saturday mornings and headed to somebody’s house to watch the Game of the Week in the afternoon with Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese calling the games. The game almost always featured the Yankees and some other American League team. When the World Series came on in October, a television was brought into the school and the teachers would stop classes so everyone could watch the game. The Yankees were not only on television every Saturday but they were almost always in the World Series.

Names like Mantle, Berra, Skowron, Ford, Richardson, Kubec, Boyer and Maris were household names. And because we were such Yankee fans, other former Yankee greats like Dimaggio, Gehrig and Ruth also became household names.

The center of it all was Yankee Stadium.

Several years ago I attended a baseball game at Yankee Stadium with one of my sons and a nephew. They could never understand what I felt that night so I didn’t even try to explain. But my childhood passed before me as I watched a baseball game from the “House that Ruth Built.” To say the least, it was a very special night to be able to experience the place where my boyhood heroes used to play the game.

For you who are not baseball fans, Yankee Stadium will be demolished after this season. The place where so much baseball history took place is about to be no more. One of my best friends and I are planning a trip to Yankee Stadium to experience it one last time. We grew up together watching our Yankees on television and we plan on watching them together at Yankee Stadium before the year is out.

Tonight, the largest group of Baseball Hall of Famers ever assembled joined the 2008 All Stars at Yankee Stadium for one last hurrah in baseball heaven. To say it was a spectacular event would be an understatement.

And my pastor is there.

God must surely be with him.

I think he is as close to heaven as he will get before he gets to the real place.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget Tresh. You are so right, the Yankees will always hold a special place. Those who never heard Dizzy Dean call a game have no idea what an experience they missed. Bryant Denny Stadium and Yankee Stadium, his earthly pilgrimege is complete.

Anonymous said...

Same requirements for both heavens. Only by the grace of God do you get to either place.

Anonymous said...

Bruce,what an experience! I felt like a 12 year old sitting there in Yankee Stadium! I also went to the All Star parade and the leading car had Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra! Forget the rest. It could have only been better if Mantle had been there!