Hal wastes his wages The Bambino in the Bronx

“We’re relying on you to take the memories from this stadium and add them to the new memories that come to the new Yankee Stadium, and continue to pass them on from generation to generation.”

Yankee Shortstop Derek Jeter – Sept. 21, 2008

Nah, I wasn’t there for the last game at Yankee Stadium. Despite whatever misconceptions people may have about the glamorous life of a Hudson Current columnist, this job doesn’t quite open doors like that.

But luckily, schlepping pints at a local hole-in-the-wall got me tickets to last Wednesday’s game (thanks Joe!) and I was able to make the most of it, taking the wife and our 5-month-old son.

I hadn’t been all season, what with the wee one and all, but when he was born back in April I knew I wanted to get him there this year. After all, it was any good father’s obligation to take his infant child to the South Bronx in an open-air arena with 55,000 other mouth-breathers – most of them drinking beer and screaming obscenities while one man recklessly hurls bags of Cracker Jacks into the crowd as another precariously balances a tureen full of steamy franks on his knee inches away from the baby’s head.

Never mind the fact that large men are constantly launching leather-bound projectiles into the stands. Hell, that’s just good parenting…

Despite the potential risks, this was a pilgrimage that had to be carried out. And upon receiving his share of immunizations against whatever the South Bronx might have to offer, I got the boy in under the wire – waiting until the last week of Yankee Stadium’s baseball operations to welcome him into the fold.

Normally a drive to Yankee Stadium is a masochistic endeavor, but the thought of putting the kid on the D train still gave me the willies. So we left early enough and got there just after the park opened, crossing the threshold around 5:15 p.m.

Here’s a little known fact about the stadium, and I quote, “Children who are less than 30 inches tall do not require a ticket to enter,” so I strapped him into the Baby Bjorn and we churned through the turnstile together for the first and final time.

The boy was visibly excited, and while I’d like to think he knew the significance of the hallowed grounds in which he found himself, more likely he was simply overcome by the abundance of stimuli.

Either way, he had a grin on his face rivaled only by mine as we worked our way past a gracious usher for a priceless photo op on the Yankee dugout. Eventually we found our way to our seats, posing for posterity and providing our son with the evidence he’ll need years from now when it might actually mean something to him.

About 10 minutes before the first pitch, a distinct aroma made itself known among all the rest. Believe me, baseball fans – you haven’t lived the full experience until you’ve changed a diaper in the ladies room at Yankee Stadium.

We stayed through the YMCA and up to the seventh inning stretch, realizing we had stretched our own luck as far as we should. It was well past the boy’s bedtime and the Beer Man kept waking him up every time he barked through our section, so we made our move. From the parking lot we heard the roar of the crowd as the Yanks sluggish offense got into gear, but I had already gotten all the highlights I needed.

The following Sunday as the final game was to be played at the stadium, I thought it might be nice to head down to the bar and soak in the pomp and circumstance. But after a few innings of the Stadler and Waldorf barroom antagonists incessantly droning on about who sucks and why, I opted to head home for the duration.

Whatever opinion you may have of the 2008 Yankees, any self-respecting sports fan would have recognized the significance of the moment and exhibited a modicum of reverence.

But in looking back, I’m grateful for having been driven from my barstool because in the end it gave me the opportunity to share one last Yankee Stadium moment with my boy. As Mariano Rivera took the mound I felt compelled to wake him up, put his cap on and watch the end of an era. As Jeter made his impromptu speech, I realized I was right where I needed to be at that moment.

Sure, he’s 5 months old. Those memories have likely since been replaced by his most recent meal of pureed carrots or the fact that I left him to cry himself to sleep last night. But someday he’ll be able to say he saw it all, someday he’ll be able to say he saw it there, and someday he’ll be able to say he saw it with me.

Christopher M. Halleron, freelance writer/bitter bartender, writes a biweekly humor column for The Hudson Current and websites in the New York Metro area. He spends a lot of his time either in front of or behind the bar in Hoboken, New Jersey where his tolerance for liquor grows stronger as his tolerance for society is eroded on a daily basis. Feel free to drop him a line at c_halleron@yahoo.com.


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