Two New York Teams Say Goodbye to Their Fields

Fans Cope as Neither Team Makes for Postseason


Whitey Ford, left, and Don Larsen, two of the Yankees’ most revered pitchers, scoop dirt from the mound prior to the Stadium’s final game. (Bruce Gilbert/MCT)

Published: October 2, 2008

On Sept. 21, the immortal anthem “New York, New York” rang through Yankee Stadium, known as the “House That Ruth Built,” for the final time. On Sept. 28, just a borough away in Queens, the New York Mets bid farewell to their stadium as well, leaving behind the home of their only two World Series’ titles.

Yankee Stadium, built in 1923, has stood the test of time, albeit with the help of a major renovation in the1970s. It has been personified, embodying a likeability and personality just as genuine as any of the players who played there. “Yankee Stadium was like a true friend and it means so much because it is saying goodbye to a lifetime of memories, not only for me, but for millions of Yankee fans,” said Robert Wolf, FCLC ’10.

Now, Yankee Stadium will join the 34 Hall of Famers who wore the pinstripes in the annals of Yankee history. Many fans have been resistant to the idea of replacing the legendary Yankee Stadium with the towering modern structure across the street that will serve as their new home. Some see it as a sign of Major League Baseball’s increasing emphasis on commercialism. “I hear that the ticket prices will be rather high and that there will be many luxurious amenities, such as wireless Internet throughout the stadium—really, do we need wireless Internet? What happened to baseball? Do we even need a new stadium at all?” said Yankee fan, Dave de la Fuente, FCLC ’10.

The fact that the final season at the historic stadium will end without a playoff appearance is lamentable to many fans. “It’s a disappointment, but there’s also reason for optimism with the new stadium,” said Jad Rifai,FCLC ’10. The new stadium will indeed provide the Yankees with a metaphorical chance at rebirth. It is fitting that the Yankees are in the midst of a rebuilding effort, giving their younger, potential future stars a chance to make the type of unforgettable impact that their predecessors had. It is this new generation of players that will inhabit the Yankees’ new home, never forgetting the history that happened just across the street.

Shea Stadium, in its own right, holds great importance for the Mets’ loyal fans, not so much because of its structure, but because of the priceless memories left there. “As a Mets fan, I actually have no regrets about the stadium closing,” said Vladimir Cruz, FCRH ’10. “The team is getting better, and it’s time for change. The area around Shea Stadium is a bit skeptical with the ‘chop shops’ around,” added Cruz, who works for the Mets in Fan Assistance. Fans like Cruz are excited for the opportunities that the new Citifield will bring, not only to the team, but to the city. Even if fans don’t care to remember the stadium itself, they will never forget what they saw there. The unique memories made at Shea will endure, from the fans exuberant storming of the field following the 1969 championship to Mookie Wilson’s memorable ground ball against the Red Sox in 1986. Mets fans had the opportunity to watch stars like Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden burn so brightly for so short a time. They cheered players of all skill types from Benny Agbayani to Mike Piazza.

Enthusiastic fans at Shea lovingly looked toward centerfield every time the Mets hit a home run as the Big Apple emerged from its large top hat in celebration. Shea Stadium and the New York Mets were charged with the unenviable task of filling the vacancy left by the departure of the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers after the 1957 season. Fittingly enough, the Mets’ new stadium, Citifield, is designed to resemble the Brooklyn Dodgers beloved former home: Ebbets Field. The Mets’ new home is to serve as a symbolic crossroads between the history of the team and its future. It will be a throwback to days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, funded by the love and support of fans who have built a dedication to the New York Mets.

The Mets’ dreams of closing their stadium on a high note were shattered on Sept. 28 when the Mets capped off yet another disappointing late season collapse. In light of the disappointments that the team has endured over the last two years, many Mets fans will welcome the opportunity to clear the slate and start anew. Both the Yankees and Mets will have that opportunity next spring when they step on to their new fields only a few hundred feet from their former homes, but fans will never forget the indelible memories left behind.