My 2012 Season
When I was a child, maybe every other year or so, my mother would get us tickets on a bus trip to Yankee Stadium. Trips to see that late 1980s Yankees team, the definition of mediocrity, are one of my favorite memories from youth. We sat way up near the top in the outfield, got to the game in time for batting practice and stayed until the end. One time I crept down for batting practice and got a "hey kid" from Steve Sax. Was the highlight of my baseball youth until the late former Orioles bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks told me to have an aneurism at Fenway Park my junior year in high school.
Two decades later, my work involves Major League Baseball it isn't uncommon for me to make two trips to different ballparks in the same week. I've been fortunate in some of the games I've attended in the past - David Cone's perfect game, the clincher of the 2001 ALCS, Cal Ripken's last game at Yankee Stadium, the game where Billy Martin decided to use pitcher Rick Rhoden as his designated hitter (he batted 8th, ahead of Rafael Santana, and Rhoden was 0-1 with a sac fly) - but this year I was spoiled.
My first game of the year was working opening day at Citi Field. I got to walk through the field before the gates open, got a picture of the new walls at Citi Field and sent them off to the handful of Mets' fan friends I have. The following week I worked the opener at Fenway - which, from a work standpoint, was a difficult day. It was my third trip to Fenway that year (had two offseason meetings up there). As a life-long Yankee fan, I don't think I've fully digested the fact that my main working relationship in baseball is with the Red Sox. I think their staff thinks I'm a Mets fan. It's still a surreal feeling when I go through the "authorized personnel only" doors at Fenway.
A month later, during a warm early May Saturday afternoon, I took my two-year old daughter to her first game. Being a younger child, she's an observer - she learns by watching - and she's also very outspoken and uses humor to get attention. I got her to sit in a seat for a couple of innings at Fenway before I finally had to take her out to Yawkee Way to play with the kids activities there. On the way home (we left after the game was official) we stopped and got ice cream and got off the T to play at that playground in that station before Newton. Megan still talks about the day and asks to go again - a great feeling for a dad. Later in the month, my wife and both kids and I went to a Sox game (highlighted by Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt singing the national anthem). Such talent those two have. I also took my father-in-law to his first Yankee game - a win over the Orioles.
I attended the Fenway 100th anniversary game (which I blogged about before). Now that a few months have passed, I get chills thinking that Johnny Pesky and Carl Beane passed away during the season, two major parts of that ceremony. Even the Yankees (who never wear retro-uniforms) were in the 1912 road grays. Mariano Rivera got the final outs - fitting that any memorable game is closed by Mo, whether it's a Yankee memory or any memory. The last player to ever where #42 as their regular number. It fits him. And that would be the last time I saw him in person that year.
We started a tradition which I hope continues - my father, brother and I spent father's day at Nationals Park for the interleague series between the Yanks and Nationals. Friday night we were in the luxury seats and on TV much of the game. I gave Nick Swisher and "O-H" and got an "I-O" back, and got to speak with him for a couple minutes during batting practice. I know he had a rough post-season, but I'm a fan for life. What a great guy.
By the time the regular season was over, I had been to nearly a couple dozen games. Saw the Yanks 7 times, 5 times on the road (they were 6-1 when I saw them in the regular season). Just missed seeing Santana's perfect game (was at Citi Field 3 times that week). Watched the Red Sox flounder as teams like the Orioles and A's came into Boston and surprised them.
Maybe the best game I saw was the post-season. Game 3 of the ALDS (little did I know at the time the Yankees would win only one more game after that all season, while losing 5). Raul Ibanez's 2 HR game. The New Yankee Stadium isn't like the old one. The moated fans are quiet and isolated. The upper deck (where I sat) was alive.
Now the season is nearly over. Even though the World Series teams will be clients of my company, I won't need to travel to assist. This was a memorable year. I took many pictures, filled out a couple scorecards, had a Shake Shack custard shake, watched the Phillies put up 16 runs on the Mets and shared games with most of my immediate family and close friends. I watched my Yankee team look great mid-season, lose Rivera, Pettitte and Jeter to injury during the year at different times, and still managed to get to the ALCS. A memorable season with Mike Trout having one of the best rookie seasons ever, Miggy Cabrera winning the Triple Crown and R.A. Dickey bringing some excitement in an otherwise dull season for the Mets. I don't know if I can keep up this kind of schedule for the 2012 season. I always say that. Then it's three months into the offseason and I can't wait to go back again and again and again.