The House that Money Built

If you’ve been following the last couple of posts, you know that we’ve been talking about our New York City trip in 2004. When planning that trip, Ginny stated that we had to see Yankee Stadium (the old stadium, pre-2009), but she had to do some major persuading to get Dan to go. Neither of us is a Yankee fan—in fact, we’re far from it. Ginny’s argument, however, was that the stadium was such a major part of baseball history, that we couldn’t possibly go to NYC on a baseball trip and ignore the “house that Ruth built,” especially since a new stadium was on the horizon. And the team was in town that week. So we coughed up the $45+ a seat on the left field side (who can afford box seats behind home plate, except the overpaid players themselves?) and ordered the tickets.

That week, when we got into the stadium, we were immediately funneled into a line to see Monument Park. We didn’t know exactly what to expect, except that it was hyped as the must-see baseball site in New York. We knew those particular players were not buried there, but it didn’t seem so “great” to us. To us, it seemed small and unimposing. The area was about the length of a school bus, situated down the left field side of the stadium and consisted of slabs of granite with players’ names. We’re sure that a true Yankee fan would be awed by this. In fact, there was a type of reverent silence, or whispers usually reserved for church, from those moving along the little path. Ginny took the prerequisite pictures; after all, this was baseball history. And we left to get food.

We thought the price of the tickets outrageous. By the time we had gotten a souvenir program, three hot dogs, two beers, a bag of peanuts and two ice cream bars, we were out another $60. How did families do it? We know now how the housing crisis happened—too many families had to mortgage their house to come to one game!

When we finally found our seats—waaaaayyyy passed third base about 30 rows back—we settled in for an evening of baseball. Surprise! First of all, we were so far from home plate, we couldn’t hear the crack of the bat. What kind of game is it if you can’t hear the crack of the bat! Why do people bother coming to a game when all they can see is a tiny person waving around a tinier stick? And all we could hear were conversations around us, particularly the one behind us. It was more like a soap opera out here.

One of the two men seated behind us was on the phone most of the game, thanking the person on the other end for his wonderful birthday present. “Yeah, these are the greatest seats. I can’t believe you got them for me. Thank you so much.” His tone was like one of a father to his daughter, kind and parently. Of course, when he said these were great seats, we looked at each other with “are you kidding me!” eyes and snorted our derision. The next call asked, “Who helped you get the tickets, anyway? These are so good, you had to have somebody help you out.” How cute, we thought, a young daughter maybe getting Mommy to buy the tickets for her to give to Daddy. In between calls, he also made calls to the beer vendor, but not on his phone. By the fifth inning, his responses on the phone were beginning to show the warm glow of the beer. “You were so thoughtful, getting these tickets. When I get home, I can show you how grateful I am.” That statement was a bit lurid for a daughter. What was really going on here? In the seventh inning, the call included, “Wait till I get home. I’m really going to give you a good time as a thank you.” The tone was so sleazy, we finally figured out that the “daughter” was either a girlfriend or wife who he treated as a sexual child, which was made even more disgusting by the fact that every time an attractive—and some not quite so attractive—woman passed by him, he would nudge his buddy and say, “I’d do her.” This was topped off by his racist comments about the Japanese players on the team. Ginny desperately wanted to turn around and let him have a feminist tirade (as she had done before in other places, much to Dan’s chagrin), but he was a New Yorker, drunk and muscled. She knew Dan couldn’t outrun him.

Our experience at Yankee Stadium can be summed up with the first phrase Ginny wrote in the scorebook: “Is this hell on earth?”

But our adventure to the stadium did not end there. After the game, we followed the crowds back to the subway to make our way a hundred blocks or so to our hotel. There we encountered a man trying to break into a public phone coin box. He was quite audacious about it. Some 50 people or so were all milling around with him standing smack in the middle of the platform trying to jimmy the lock with a bent wire coat-hanger. Never before had we seen someone so oblivious to those around him AND how blithely the populous allowed him to go about his business freely. The gentleman worked diligently for some time, but finally gave up and walked away unmolested. The subway train arrived and we all got on. It was New York City after all.

Beyond the disappointments with Yankee Stadium and the Brooklyn Cyclones, we had an exciting time in New York City and are anxious to return. Maybe not to those stadiums, but certainly to Staten Island and the theaters and the museums and the restaurants and the shopping and….NYC really does have an infinite charm.


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