We just had to make one more trip before the end of the regular season and what better place to be than at Yankee Stadium to bid the Captain goodbye in his final game in the Bronx. Obviously, tickets were hard to come by but it was certainly worth the effort (and the money). Throw in the fact that the game was being played in the greatest city in the world then you have the ultimate road trip!
We arrived on Wednesday and checked into the Hotel Refinery, an upscale boutique hotel located on W 38th Street off the Avenue of the Americas. It’s a great location near things like Rockefeller Center, NYC Library, Empire State Building, Times Square, etc, etc, etc. In other words, it where you want to be. As soon as we checked in we turned on the Yankees who where playing a day game and with the weather report for Thursday calling for torrential rain we thought we might be watching Derek’s last game in pinstripes a day early and on television.
When we got up Thursday morning the first thing we did was look out the window it see if the rains had indeed come. Well, they had, but not nearly as bad as were first predicted. So we were hopeful, though we might get wet we thought the game would be played. We spent the day checking out some sights, had lunch at the famous Grand Central Oyster Bar and shopped for some Yankee and Jeter gear. All the time the rain getting lighter and lighter and we were getting stoked for a night that we knew would be special, we just didn’t know quite how special!
As we arrived at the Stadium the first thing I saw were the clouds starting to break and the pained look that came over the guy selling rain ponchos. As we entered this beautiful ballpark, they were beginning to take the tarp off the infield while the players were warming up in the outfield grass. The rain had been officially canceled! Everyone would get to say goodbye to Derek Jeter. You could really feel the excitement in the air. It was half celebration and half sorrow for that we would never see number 2 again. For many in attendance they grew up with him and never knew another Yankee shortstop.
When “De-rek Je-ter” led the team out to take the field for the final time, the crowd who had been waiting to yell all night finally had their first opportunity, and did they make the most of it! The game started inauspiciously with the first two Orioles hitting solo home runs. But in the bottom of the first, Jeter’s double off the wall knocked in a run to help tie it up. Was that his last hit? Was it his last RBI? No one knew!!
Both pitchers settled down until the bottom of the 7th when the Yanks, with the help of some sloppy fielding by the O’s, scored 3 runs to take a 5-2 lead. Jeter got another RBI with a fielders choice. (Was that his last RBI?) So it was set, Yanks hold on to the lead, they remove Derek from shortstop with two outs in the top of the 9th to a thunderous ovation, the one everyone had been waiting for all night. Perfect!!!
Except the Orioles who were still fighting for home field advantage in the playoffs didn’t read the script. David Robertson who had filled in for the great Mariano Rivera so well this season gave up three runs in what seemed to 2 minutes. Our plan was ruined. Everyone was shocked! How could this perfect scenario not happen?? But we did notice that Derek was due to bat third in the bottom of the 9th. Maybe, just maybe!! Nah, that only happens in the movies, bad movies. Well it did happen and the place erupted like I have never experienced before and probably never will again.
Most everyone has seen what happened after the game. The tributes, the affections from his teamates, Derek doing his best not cry by hiding his face in a towel as he walked around the infield one last time. It was unbelievable. But unless you were there, actually there, surrounded by 50,000 people who are feeling the same passions and excitement as you and who you can share it with, you didn’t get the full effect.
Look for my 2015 baseball vacation tours to come out in the next 4 to 6 weeks and experience it live with other fans who love the game of baseball like you do. Also, if you have any ideas on what stadiums and cities you would like to see, drop me a line and we can put together a package especially for you.
Enjoy the Post season,