Sunday, July 11, 2004

On the meaning of Yankee Tradition

Those of us that grow up in a two team city or near one are used to having ridiculous arguements with people you run into on the street, subway, on the way to work, etc. I remember, in the spring of 1987, running an errand for dad and walking into the corporate headquaters of the state's medicaid program, which at that time was located on the 27th floor (right D?) of tower 1 of the World Trade. I wore my team colors then daily, and the security guard, throwing a glance up at my Yanks lid, said "Yo Yankees, what's that last thing youse done?", I replied (after spying his Mets world series win pin) "Twenty more World Series than youse have!". That was just the cost of doing business, you expected to get poked at and (depending on how many friends you were with and how well armed you were) were always prepared to poke right back.
I never expected, though, to have to do the same thing outside of the continental 48. I was sitting, with my then fiance, at a street side bar located on the main drag in Puerto Vallarta (Mexico), again wearing my Yanks cap, when some guy walking down the street wearing a Dodgers shirt said (altogether now) "What have you guys done in the last hundred years?", to which I rapidly replied "Thirty three AL pennants and twenty two world series! When you win another 18 or so we can talk!". A bit agressive, I know, since I was neither surrounded by friends nor particularly well armed, but 6 Coronas into my early afternoon, I wasn't about to take any crap.
But it takes a day like yesterday for the reality of Yankee tradition to come to take hold, not as something you carry with you as a weapon and shield, but as a group acheivement, built throught the sweat and labor of a group of men, constantly reshuffled but always working for the same goal, to win. DJ and I (and the little one when he's in town) have our own tradition of going to the Stadium for Old Timers day and watching our idols come out to be cheered and lauded for their individual and collaborative acheivements. Yesterday was the 58th annual commemoration of Old Timers, I never cease to be amazed at the number and variety of players that are invited and have lent themselves to Yankee history. The following is the roster of players from yesterday's ceremonies- Dave Lapoint, Jay Johnstone, Kevin Maas, Steve Balboni, Rich Monteleone, Dooley Womack, Brian Doyle, Al Downing, Oscar Gamble, Ryan Duren, Luis Sojo, Rick Cerrone, Cliff Johnson, Mickey Rivers, Gene Michael, Jim Abbott, Jim Leyritz, Hector Lopez, Tom Tresh, Charlie Silviera, Bob Turley, Luis Arroyo, John Blanchard, Joe Pepitone, Roy White, Clete Boyer, Mel Stottlemyre, Willie Randolph, Goose Gossage, Craig Nettles, Bobby Murcer, Don Larsen, Mosse Skrowron, Hank Bauer, Ron Guidry, Don Mattingly, Reggie Jackson, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto. 'Nuff said.
If somebody asks you about Yankee tradition, refer them to the above list of players (just a small group of the living players that have helped this team win.
I want to relate the most emotional portion of the ceremonies, but I'm off to grab the ferry to the game. El Duque back on the mound....hurray or horror?

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