Dan Dechenaux’s Memorable Yankees Moment


 

Writing a post on my favorite personal New York Yankees moment seemed easy at first. But every time I started one I thought of another that was better.

In the old days, it would have been a matter of  yanking the paper out of the typewriter and rolling in a new one. But today, it’s just the magical copy and paste. But this is without a doubt my most memorable and emotional Yankee experience. So if I am going to be true to the assignment, this must be it. For those of you who read it the first time around, look at this like an old- fashioned double- header. A second go ’round without a separate price of admission.

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 payers 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 Mantle 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 thanks to the Yankees, I will always have this beautiful memory.

Tags: Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Mickey Mantle Mickey Mantle Day New York Yankees

  • Jim Harper

    I feel you! I just turned 65 and I still remember everything Mantle. Like most kids he was my idol. I am thankful in a way that the media was much different than today when players cannot sneeze without it being reported. I respect what the media of the day did in order to protect Mick despite the many incidents he was party to. Even knowing now does not damage the love I had for him. If Mantle had played in todays era, with all the advantages that conditioning and sports medicine has to offer that he probably would have hit over 800 home runs. In my mind he was the greatest to ever play the game.