Sports Scene: A salute to the fallen: so long, Yankee Stadium

By Nick Pitts
September 25, 2008

It’s not common that someone would take a match to their favorite photo album.

Surely an art museum would never trash a fine piece of art.

Why, then, does America demolish its greatest stadiums?

By now it is common knowledge that the New York Yankees will open the 2009 season in a brand new stadium. All season long it was growing in the shadows of Yankees Stadium. The entire baseball world, with the end of every inning played, understood the inevitable.

And then, it happened.

On that fateful night, Sept. 21 to be exact, the Yankees played their final game in the house that Babe Ruth built.

Even worse news for New Yorkers is that thanks to the asbestos content of the old building, the demolition will be piece by piece, instead of an implosion.

Not until spring of 2010 does the city expect the demolition to be complete, a slow and painful death, for sure.

But I’m almost certain that Philadelphians don’t exactly feel sorry for New York’s loss.

After having already said goodbye to the famous Veteran’s Stadium, the place where Santa got plastered with snowballs and Mike Schmidt lead the Phillies to their last World Series win, Chairman of Comcast-Spectacore Ed Snider announced that the Spectrum will also close its doors after the 2008-2009 seasons.

Now there is a building with some history. Sure, it will never be regarded as highly as Yankees Stadium, but to me, that place is childhood and so much more.

When the Spectrum goes down, so does the very last championship in Philly. Not since the 1983 Sixers has a Philadelphia team gone the distance.

With the Vet now a parking lot, the only thing this city will have left are memories of their great championship teams.

Every time I step foot into the spectrum I feel like I can hear the echo of an older generation basking in the confetti as famous play-by-play announcer Gene Hart declared the Flyers the Stanley Cup champs.

The newer, the bigger, the gaudier. No matter how hard they may try, the atmosphere of an old stadium will never be recreated. “Old” cannot be rebuilt.

Why do we blow up our history? In the Yankees case, it seems as though George Steinbrenner wanted to write himself a chapter or two in the pinstripes’ ever growing book. After days of searching, I couldn’t come up with any logical reason, other than Steinbrenner and the city of New York are heartless.

If you needed any more proof, you can venture down to Coney Island, home of America’s first true amusement parks. Or what’s left of it.

This country could learn a valuable lesson from the Italians. People travel to Rome just to see the beloved Coliseum, perhaps the most amazing stadium ever built. Imagine the pure profit in tickets to see the structure. Two millennia after it’s seen its last death match, it’s still making money!

Ruth’s house may not have ever seen any fights to the death, but there was some great baseball played there. I am one of the many that has never gotten the chance to see the inside of the stadium and I’d absolutely buy a ticket just to walk around its crumbling walls.

Being old should not be an excuse to tear down something valuable. I’d take the falling cement chips in my drink at the Vet over a shiny new monstrosity any day.

I almost forgot to mention that Shea Stadium will be tore down at the close of this season as well. All part of a failed master plan to lure the 2012 Olympics to New York City, where some genius figured if they built a new billion dollar stadium and torn down the old Shea, that the city would have a shot at the prestigious Olympic games.

When Shea goes down, I might cheer, kind of like I stood up and cheered at the end of “A New Hope” when the rebels blew up the Death Star.

I am not a Yankees fan. As a matter of fact, I can’t even stand New York. But for what it’s worth, I will miss Yankees Stadium, because it meant that much to baseball, and all of sports for that matter.

Nick Pitts

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