Monday, July 4, 2011

The Fourth at the Ballpark

Over the years, I've managed to take in several Fourth of July ballgames. For the most part, memories of the on-field play have faded. But some moments stand out.

In the early '70, ballpark promotions were more quaint than today. I remember one Independence Day when the Flying Wallendas of circus and high-wire fame were the star attraction at Milwaukee County Stadium (probably more than the Brewers were to many at the game that day). It was impressive to see them walk across a wire strung across the field.

The Wallendas performed their death-defying stunts with out a hitch. I can't remember a thing about the game. At least there's something about the day I remember.

The most iconic moment in baseball's July Fourth history is Lou Gehrig's farewell speech in 1939. It was a day that cemented the "Iron Horse's" reputation as a classy, indomitable player. By luck I was at the re-enactment of the event. I am pretty sure it must have been 1999, the 60th anniversary of the speech. The ceremony was emotional for fans and players.

On the other end of the spectrum, was my sojourn to Yankee Stadium last year. My wife, Lynn, and I were guests in the Legends Suites. It was unlike any other ballgame I've attended. I've been to stadium clubs and restaurants for dinner, but none compared to this day.

Entering the suites area was like being greeted at a resort. A line of employees welcomed us, showed us our seats (a couple of rows from the field near third base) and then explained how the buffet worked. Trust me, the buffet worked fine. The food was superior and there was even plenty for Lynn, a vegetarian, to eat.

And all the food was included in the price of the ticket (I still don't think I could actually pay so much myself). In addition there was all the soft drinks, water and ballpark food you could eat.

And I do remember the game well. It was a rare blown save by Mariano Rivera, although the Yankees did beat the Toronto Blue Jays in extra innings.

Oh, and Lynn even was tossed a ball by the Jay's third-base coach. You can't top that for a baseball memory.

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