They say you never forget your firsts in life. Your first car. Your first kiss. Your first baseball game. While the first baseball game I ever attended was a Mets game, I will never forget the first New York Yankees game I ever attended, and I would imagine that Yankees fans won’t forget that game too. That game was May 17, 1998.
My father was a Mets fan, however, he was a baseball fan first and foremost and always wanted the Yankees to do well to make it more interesting in New York during the season. He was the one who really instilled the interest and love for baseball that I have today. He had become friendly with a neighbor of ours in our old apartment building and he had extra tickets for the game that day. Of course, we were interested.
I remember being excited on the ride in, wearing my Derek Jeter t-shirt and a jacket. I wasn’t thrilled about the Beanie Baby promotion that day, but hey, free stuff is free stuff. I remember walking through the tunnel and finally getting to our aisle. My dad said my eyes were three times the size they usually were. It didn’t matter how many times on television you see the old Yankee Stadium, being there was different, even if we were in the Row L in the Upper Deck.
In the car, we had talked about how my father had never seen a no-hitter. The Mets never pitched one to this point and we decided that he was a jinx of some sort. My mother and I even kicked him out of the room for the final two innings of Dwight Gooden‘s no-hitter in 1996.
David Wells was just on his game that day. I remember looking up at the scoreboard in the fifth and saying to my dad that he hadn’t given up a hit yet. Then went the sixth and the seventh and no-hits. It got to the eighth and we were both wondering how Joe Torre left Chuck Knoblauch in at second base. This was at the peak of his throwing issues (just ask Keith Olbermann”s mother).
Sure enough, Ron Coomer hits one on the ground to second base that Knoblauch made a great play on to get the second out of the eighth.
Finally the ninth inning came. There was so much electricity in the air. Jon Shave flew out to right. One out. Javier Valentin struck out. Two out. The light-hitting Pat Meares came up and hits one to right. The ball lands in Paul O’Neill‘s glove. Perfect game. The jinx is gone.
I remember going to school Monday and all my friends were talking about it and it was just really cool to have been at that game. My first Yankee game.
My father passed away this past July, and even though he’s gone, memories like this are what keep him alive. I still have his love for the game and will always remember my first Yankee game because it was, well, perfect.