Monday, June 27, 2011

Yankees Old Timers' Day an instant classic

No one puts on a show like the New York Yankees, but yesterday they outdid even themselves.

I was thrilled to be a part of the crowd cheering for the old timers on what turned out to be a terrific summer day
(maybe a little too hot to be sitting out in the sun for five hours like I was, but fun nonetheless). It’s still strange for me to think of my favorite players Tino Martinez and Bernie Williams as old timers. But I felt a familiar surge of excitement when Tino whacked a ball into the right field seats, looking like the Tino of old, right after Bernie doubled to the thrill of the crowd that came to welcome him for his first Old Timers’ game back at the stadium.

But my favorite moments came during the pre-game ceremonies. Watching Joe Torre tear up at the sustained standing ovation he received from the Yankees faithful brought tears to my eyes too. It was the first real chance we got to thank Torre for the dynasty that he helped give to the city of New York. Torre was at the stadium for George Steinbrenner’s memorial last year, but that was a solemn day in honor of the Boss. Now, we finally had a chance to give Torre his due. I’m glad that the icy relations between Torre and the Yankees thawed enough to allow us this opportunity.

I also got teary during the extended celebration of Gene Monahan’s career as the Yankees trainer. In throwing out the first pitch, Monahan fired a strike to an emotional Jorge Posada, who donned the catcher’s gear one more time just for his trainer. Monahan is retiring this year, but he will not be going away empty handed. Between the truck, the trip to the Alps, the lawn mower and turf supplies, and the new dog, I would imagine Monahan is going to be just as busy during retirement as he is right now. It was a classy going-away party for the classiest guy.

For me, the day was even more special because I had more than 1,000 of my fellow Syracuse alum there to celebrate with me. We swapped college stories over chicken fajitas and ice cream and cheered all the old timers, both young and old. It was a glorious day in every way and an instant classic for a team known best for its traditions.

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