Like most ancient ballparks, Yankee Stadium is actually kind of a dump. Narrow aisles, cramped concourse walkways, not-very-good food; imagine the Aragon Ballroom as a sports venue and you’d have a good idea. A lot of people bemoan its date with the wrecking ball, but a lot of those people seem to have the wrong reasons for doing so.
Besides certain clowns roaming the stands and the psychotic man-love spewing from the bleachers, the most notable feature of Yankee Stadium is not its tenants’ 26 World Series victories but rather the near countless references to those 26 World Series victories plastered around the ballpark. Vendors sell t-shirts flaunting the statistic; fans make signs reiterating it; even the bridge over 157th St. finds it worth repeating.
Unrivaled and unprecedented domination of the sport aside, how much of a claim is the average fan allowed to lay upon a team’s history – even when said history predates that fan? How much does a 30-year-old from Brooklyn have to do with the 1927 Yankees? What could Lou Gehrig possibly mean to a 19-year-old who grew up on Derek Jeter? All things considered, those boasts of 26-Time World Champions couldn’t really have full significance to someone under the age of 83.
Obviously this doesn’t just apply to the Yankees; even around town we have 25-year-old Cub fans wearing hats with 1908 embroidered on the back and 30-year-old Sox fans wearing Nellie Fox jerseys. Fox was a fine player and history tells us the 1908 Cubs were a mighty, mighty club, but if you weren’t there to see it how could you possibly find those things worth commemorating? If we see high school kids wearing 2005 World Series gear in 2030, how should we react?
As the Good Guys make their final trip ever to Yankee Stadium, we can probably expect a lot of waxing nostalgic and nods to history. They’ll talk about the Ruth-Gehrig-DiMaggio-Mantle legacy, and they’ll talk about Murderers’ Row, and they’ll talk about Don Larsen and maybe even a nod to Wee Willie Keeler of the 1903 New York Highlanders.
But you have to ask yourself: how much could most people actually, truly, honestly care about any of it? And in purely contextual terms, the answer becomes a shrug and a “not much.”