As I stepped out of Byron’s family Suburban, I could feel the powerful presence of Yankee Stadium. Coming from a small town, just being in the city was exciting. Today was Byron’s birthday and he had invited Matthew, David and myself to go to this game. We were really hyped up.
I remember Byron saying to me, “Get your mitt, Coop!” At that moment, standing there with my best friend in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, decked out in my Yankee cap, I felt like a real fan. We threw the ball around for a few minutes in the parking lot before heading to the ballpark. Soon we were walking through the tunnel to the stadium. I could hear the fans shouting, smell the hot dogs, and feel the anticipation. The whole experience was intense. In the Bronx, you are a Yankee fan or you’re dirt.
It was stunning. At the end of the tunnel the magical field sparkled. We found our seats. Byron and I were excited and talked about the game. Of course, in our minds, there was no question that the Yankees would win. Byron, his dad, Matthew and David went to get drinks and hot dogs. Miles, Byron’s little brother, wanted me to stay with him, so I did. Little did I know that the rest of our crew wouldn’t return until the middle of the first inning. The concession lines are long at Yankee Stadium. We were seated very close to the bullpen where Irabu was warming up. “Hey!” I shouted leaning over the rail, and incredibly Irabu acknowledged me, before the security guards pulled me back. Byron returned with our hot dogs and we sat on the hard seats with the sun beating down on us, eating and watching the game. Soon the spirit of New York captured us, and we were jumping up and down, roaring with the rest of the crowd.
It was hot. We decided we needed a break and went back through the tunnel to the concession stands to buy cold drinks. We had earned them with all of our hard cheering. By the time we got back to our seats, the score was 10-4 Boston. It looked as if the Yanks were going to lose. Since we had a long drive home, we decided to call it a day. In spite of the inevitable loss, I knew this day would remain in my memory for a long time. We left.
As soon as we got in the car we turned on the radio to check out the score. The announcer said the Yankees had made a huge comeback. The score was now 10-9. We were so mad. We were even swearing. I think all of New York heard us. We felt like fools for leaving the game. We heard the announcer say that the Yanks had hit a home run, right to where we had been sitting! We sat through three nail-biting innings in the car listening to the radio.
At the bottom of the ninth with two runners on and two outs, Bernie Williams came to the plate. Williams is an intimidating batter for any pitcher. The count went to three and two. There was silence in the car. The whole game led up to this moment. The tension was crazy. We hung on every word. The pitch was good—the announcer said, “It’s a swing, a hit, and a line drive to center field—back-back-back. . .” But the center fielder jumped up and robbed the ball from being a home run. He didn’t catch it—he “captured it,” said the announcer and brought it in to his chest. Boston had won. Everyone in our car was yelling and swearing. People in other cars were beeping their horns. That was the moment when I realized I really hated the Boston Red Sox, and that I loved this game with all my heart.