So, I’m browsing thru Twitter yesterday afternoon and I encounter an abundance of tweets/remarks regarding OLD TIMERS DAY, at Yankee Stadium. This year’s event was especially poignant, because Joe Torre was making his return after a four year absence.
It’s enough to give you goose bumps, huh?
And, yeah, I get it …..
The vaunted New York Yankees have the richest and most publicized history in baseball. A collection of the most notable talents who’ve ever played the game have donned the pinstripes.
While legends such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Joe Dimaggio have been gone years – if not decades, the Yankees still have a rich heritage to celebrate. And, CELEBRATE they do …. every single summer.
We can name ‘em …..
Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage are included among the Hall Of Famers who make the annual pilgrimage to Old Timers Day. They’re also joined by notables, such as David Cone, Oscar Gamble, Ron Guidry, Graig Nettles, Mickey Rivers, Roy White, Chris Chambliss and many, MANY others.
50+ to be exact …..
Widows of former Yankees greats are part of the group, as well. And, rightfully so.
Indeed, the wives of Bobby Murcer, Thurman Munson, Billy Martin and Elston Howard were fitting contributors to yesterday’s ceremonies. These ladies likely feel the same pride their late-husbands had in being part of the Yankees story.
With seeing this yearly rendition of a diverse but striking family reunion by former members of the Bronx Bombers past editions, I am inspired to ask if the concept is impractical in Baltimore? And, don’t fight me with “rich history” daggers, either.
The Baltimore Orioles organization boasts a half dozen LEGENDS who have been immortalized in Cooperstown, with Orioles caps affixed upon their plaques. And, all of them are still alive !!!!
How much longer will you be able to say that?
Life is fragile; that famous ’71 four-man staff of 20 game winners possesses just a lone living member today. That’s how easy your living, breathing history can disappear.
Yet, there are so many names and personalities with distinct ties to the Orioles family. They might not be enshrined among baseball’s greatest talents. But, many of them merit a measurable tie to our collective hearts.
Tell me how special it would be to run into John Lowenstein, Lee May, Wayne Garland, Joe Nolan or Jesse Jefferson at the harbor on the night before the ceremony? How about seeing Bobby Grich, Storm Davis, Jeffrey Hammonds or Sammy Stewart around town?
There is only one way to lose one’s tie to its own tradition, and that’s to lose one’s tie to its own tradition.
Alas, the Yankees do just another thing better …..
Don’t tell me about fairness or how this particular discussion has nothing to do with the 2011 edition of the Orioles. It has EVERYTHING to do with this impressionable roster of players.
I will guarantee that Nick Swisher, CC Sabathia, Brett Gardner and Phil Hughes are moved by the traditions associated with Old Timer’s Day. Sure, they’re primarily inspired by financial security, but these guys loved baseball before they ever loved money.
Is Baltimore invested in its own history? Is there no desire carry on tradition? Is there no obligation to the Orioles past?
LEGENDS are not limited to Yankees pinstripes.
But, give ‘em credit. Among the greed, selfishness and exuberant excess of money’s attachment to the modern game, the Yankees still take a day to celebrate the purity of the organization’s intersection with the men who built it.
Such a devotion has no financial value. But, it’s every bit as important as the next big free agent addition.