Some people might find the pomp and circumstance of Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium annoying. I am not one of those people.
Despite the already sweltering heat at 11am, I arrived bright and early for Sunday’s Old Timers’ Day festivities because it’s one of my favorite days of the baseball season, one I look forward to every year. I take pictures of every single former New York Yankees player introduced and cheer wildly for all my old favorites, including Tino Martinez and Bernie Williams, who got the loudest ovations. I was kind of hoping Tino would hit one out again this year, but it didn’t happen. Maybe because he wasn’t facing David Cone, who grooved him a pitch in last year’s game and has no problem taking partial credit for that homer.
The Clippers beat up on the Bombers to a 6-2 score, but it was all in good fun. The game was close heading into the last inning, but Sterling Hitchcock got slapped around a little bit and this being an Old Timers’ Day, there was no relief in sight. Some of my favorite moments: Mick the Quick still hustling, with Rivers nearly beating out a grounder to short to start the game, Tino’s infield popup that nobody bothered to try to catch, Homer Bush, ever the good sport, donning the catcher’s gear and bumping into the home-plate umpire in futile pursuit of a foul ball. I was also glad to see Bernie have a good day, driving a ball out to Rickey Henderson in centerfield for a sacrifice fly and hitting a line drive for his second ribbie in his next at-bat. I also got a kick out of seeing Tanyon Sturtze come off the mound to catch a popup, something current pitchers are reluctant to do, as part of a 1-2-3 inning and then head out to right field to replace Paul O’Neill.
The bonus of the day was that one of my favorite current Yankees, Phil Hughes, pitched a fantastic game. I was beginning to feel like I was Phil’s jinx after the 1st inning when he gave up those two runs. He has gotten hammered in a couple of previous starts I attended. After that rough first frame, I vowed that I would never attend another one of his starts if he lost, just in case I was in fact his jinx (yes, I can be ridiculously superstitious when it comes to baseball). But luckily for me, I mean for Hughes, he took the bull by the horns and pitched an outstanding game, surviving what must have been brutal on-the-field conditions to throw shutout ball the rest of the way.
So my favorite youngster pitched a hell of a game after my favorite old timers had the time of their lives. It was a good day all around, despite the heat. But after sweating through two baseball games this weekend, I may avoid the stadium for a while, at least until this heat wave breaks.