It was June 8, 1969, my father, grandfather, uncle and I headed to Yankee Stadium for Mickey Mantle Day. I was eight years old and it was my first time at the ball park. I’ll never forget it.
As we approached the stadium we passed the street vendors. They had all kinds of Yankee goodies. It didn’t matter if they were authentic or not, I just had to have a Yankee pennant. My father obliged.
I looked up and there it was. It was the most beautiful structure I had ever seen. The facade that circled the top of the stadium was magnificent. I remember thinking that if I wasn’t about to enter heaven, this at least must be close to it.
We made our way to our seats on the second deck. My eyes nearly popped out of my head at my first sight of the field. There they were, all of the
Yankee stars I had pretended to be when I played stick ball in New Jersey. They were taking infield practice and shagging fly balls.
Everyone was there to honor “The Mick.” In the outfield I spied a banner that proclaimed: “three (Babe Ruth) plus four (Lou Gehrig) equals seven (Mickey Mantle). Near the end of the first game of the doubleheader the crowd began to chant for Mantle.
Finally, in between games, the stadium crew set up for the ceremony. Everyone stood and cheered when he came out. Eloquently, he thanked everyone and explained how baseball had been good to him.
I don’t know if there is an official record for standing ovations, but my father said Mantle’s lasted for twenty minutes. Think about it, a capacity crowd cheering continuously for one man. My father cried. My grandfather cried. My uncle drank his beer.
My only regret is that we left before the end of the second game. We listened on the radio in the car as the Yankees put up a big inning. My grandfather, uncle and father are gone now. But I will always have this beautiful memory thanks to the Yankees.