Omir the Storyteller

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

In Which Omir Says Good Things About Yankee Stadium (Somebody Shoot Me Now)


I hear rumors they're going to build a new Yankee Stadium. I hope they keep the old one.

Here's why.

OK, before we start, most of you who know me know that my favorite teams are the Mariners, whoever's playing the Yankees, and whoever's playing the Athletics. (If the Athletics are playing the Yankees, well, that's sort of like the hillbilly watching his mother-in-law wrestling a bear.) But even though I am, to say the least, not a big Yankee fan, I recognize their place as the pre-eminent sports franchise in America. I can't think of another one with the name recognition, fan base, and the success as a franchise that the Yankees have had. The Cubs haven't head the success. The Dodgers never won a thing until Jackie Robinson came along. The Cowboys were just getting started when Roger Maris was hitting his 61st home run. The only teams I can think of that would even come close to the Yankees would be the Packers, who toiled for years in a sport that played a distant second fiddle to baseball, and the Montreal Canadiens, who are the equivalent of the Yankees in a country with a tenth the population.

Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig. Joe DiMaggio. Mickey Mantle. Those are names almost every American knows, whether they follow baseball or not. And they all made their names with the Yankees.

Which brings us to Yankee Stadium. Sure it's getting old, it's probably not the economic powerhouse that teams expect these days where money rules with a tighter grip than anything Tony Lazzeri ever put on a bat, but it was home to all of the Yankee's successes from the time it was built to the present. It ranks with Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and the Hall of Fame as a monument to the sport.

Why tear it down? Would you tear down the Parthenon just because it outlived the purpose for which it was built?

I have a modest suggestion: Deed Yankee Stadium to the Interior Department and assess Major League Baseball a fee for its upkeep. Make it an official National Monument. Use it to showcase the history of sport in the United States, and baseball and the Yankees in particular. Yeah, that sets a precedent -- but I would say that, again, the Yankees are unprecedented in American sports history. Yeah, it's something Major League Baseball should do, maybe as an adjunct to the Hall of Fame -- but I'm not sure they would be interested. Help to defray the upkeep and costs by staging exhibitions there. Baseball recreationists would probably love a chance to play in the house that Ruth built, and such exhibitions might give us Americans an idea of what life was like in the days before sport became Big Business.

It would just be a shame to tear it down when so much history is attached. I would like to think that fifty years from now, the ten-year-olds of today could take their grandkids to the park, sit in the seat they sat in with Grandpa, and tell tales of how they watched Derek Jeter beat out a tag at second or how Jason Giambi put one over the fence right there. I'm probably dreaming, but hey, isn't that one of the things a blog is for?


At 1:40 PM, Blogger Simon Wagstaff said...

Fan-tastic. A brilliant piece of literary musing. Tearing down the Stadium would be like putting a mustache on the Mona Lisa, jogging shorts on the statue of David, or putting trac lighting in the Sistine Chapel. Knowing your feelings towards the Yankees, I know this was a heartfelt effort, and I for one appreciate it greatly. Welcome back old friend, keep up the great work. I've missed reading your wonderful stories, and am looking forward to more. Peace, raise your voice.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Omir the Storyteller said...

Simon! Nice to see you. You have to know I was thinking of you when I was writing this. :)

There are a lot of questions that would need to be answered before a project like this could go ahead. For instance I'm sure that apart from the historical value of thst stadium, the value of the land underneath it (and the taxes on that land) has to be enormous. That's one reason why I think turning it over to the Government might make sense.

Another is, what are you going to do with it if you keep it? I suggested doing baseball exhibitions. Using it as a movie set would be another -- there will be more movies about the Yankees someday, like Pride Of The Yankees or 61*, and what better location to make them? Rock concerts, corporate events . . . I think you could easily finance keeping the facility without making it an undue strain on the taxpayers.

Keep in touch amigo.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger idio said...

Omir - I've missed you! Thank GreyHawk for posting a link to your story about the wolves at

About the stadium - yes, this makes the most sense - and makes even more sense than converting the stadium into a mega-mall like what the Twins did in Minneapolis.

The one hurdle is the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY - I can't imagine they'd go for this with out a piece of the pie or something. The folks at Cooperstown have a lot of pull within the NY State assembly (70 mi away in Albany) and also with the Feds.

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Omir the Storyteller said...

Thanks! It's nice to be remembered.

In practical terms you're probably right, and in all fairness since we're preserving the history of baseball here, the Hall of Fame should be involved somehow. I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of how such things work -- I just know it would be a shame to tear the place down.


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