Goodbye to Yankee Stadium

Laura and Kristeen help Yanks close House That Ruth Built

For 85 years (1923 - 2008) Yankee Stadium represented the best of baseball and played an important role in our family. On Sunday September 21, 2008 Laura Vingara and her friend, Kristeen, were a part of history when they attended the final game played at the House that Ruth Built.

Everything about Sunday's final game at Yankee Stadium was just right. Andy Pettitte got the win, Jose Molina hit the last homer and the great Mariano Rivera recorded the final three outs of the Yankees' 7-3 win over the Orioles.

Read Laura's highlights of the night she witnessed the the end of an era.

A night to remember
by Laura Vingara

Yankee Stadium – it was awesome –   it couldn't’t have been a better night. The weather was perfect.  The air was warm and the lights were bright, the field looked perfect, the flag above the stadium blew out occasionally letting you see the beauty of the red, white and blue. There was something in the air that you just could’t help but feel. I got to go to the game with my friend Kristeen, a long time season ticket holder of 29 years. Her Dad, Herman didn't want to go to the game since it was a night game. I was all too thrilled to take his ticket, which by the way is some ticket. This was no ordinary ticket - larger then the normal with silver lettering embossing the date of the “Final Game”, just holding it you knew it was a very special ticket. I was so thrilled to be a part of such a great night in history. The evening was spectacular.

Kristeen and I went to the Court Deli, keeping up her tradition of a pre-game sandwich. It was a mouth watering hot pastrami on rye, with a kosher pickle, and crispy fries on the side. I must say I haven’t had a sandwich like that since I was kid in the Bronx. Duh – I was just a “bigger kid” but I was in the Bronx!

After we ate we were able to walk around, Kristeen my tour guide was gracious and patient with me as I shopped and took in the surrounding sights of the Bronx. There were tons of t-shirts for sale some of course included “I was there Final Game 9-21-0” - but not as much memorabilia as I would have expected. So determined to find the “perfect” item to take home, we decided it was time to head inside the stadium. Inside the stadium store there wasn't too much to buy that was different then the regular MLB – Yankee wear, so we decided to head to our seats. I did make Kristeen pose for a few pictures “under” her sign to the loge section. We sat on the second tier on the first base side of the field.

We watched and cheered as the old time players too the field in their appropriate positions – Mickey Mantle’s son, Billy Martin’s son, Bernie Williams, Whitey Ford, Don Larsen, Bobby Richardson, Wade Boggs, Scott Brosius, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Reggie Jackson, Chris Chambliss, Moose Skowran, Goose Gossage, David Wells, David Cone, Ron Guidry and then a teary eyed Yogi Berra. The crowd was great. You could see mixed emotions on everyone’s face, parents with their little kids sharing the history, season ticket holders like Kristeen, who can’t imagine not going to the old Yankee Stadium as she told me about how her father had given them $3.00 per game for them to spend it anyway they wanted, but mostly they got junk food”.Kristeen told me about how her mom would “drive her to stadium from Teaneck, NJ – dropping her off hours before the game and her dad would come later in time to see the game. She said the first time she came to a game she didn't know the field was “green”, since they only had a black and white TV at home.

Watching the game, I tried to soak it all in. Trying to look at all the details in everything, I wanted to capture it all, in my heart and my scrapbook album. I took lots of photos, trying to capture the feel in the air. I thought about all the greats that played on the field. Each time the ball was thrown toward home you were treated to a mini fireworks show as thousands of flashes lit the seats. One by on the innings came and went, the evening would soon end, but the legacy would remain. The Yankees won their last game at home, truly a way to exit in style. After the game, the players took to the field, Derek Jeter – thanked the Yankee fans – for making it all happen. The players walked around waving their caps to the fans. We stayed just to watch them walk and wave past our seats on their way towards home. It was time to take one last look around and head out. As we walked down the ramp fans including us, touched the walls, hugged the walls and took time to say goodbye to the past. With one last pat of the walls we were outside the stadium. By the way, I never did find that perfect item for sale on the streets or the gift shops, I had it all along and it didn't’t come with a price tag, because you can’t put a price on Yankee or Bronx Pride. Way to go Bronx Bombers! – Thanks for the memories...

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