Notwithstanding the sour end to the 2008 season, Yankee fans knew that the year was going to be bittersweet anyway, what with the Stadium being shuttered and a new one to open across the street in 2009. Yankee Stadium opened in 1923 and, over the next 85 years, gathered a plethora of memories for the team’s fans. What other stadium could boast of being the venue for the exploits of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and others? Its hallowed ground has had its fair share of ecstasies and agonies, and fans were understandably nostalgic about its closure. Long time sports writer Harvey Frommer has put together a book that the stadium would indeed be proud of. Awash with rare photographs, the book is organized in chronological order and offers pithy narratives of both bygone eras as well as of more recent times.
Two photographs in particular stand out from among the many riveting ones. On Opening Day in 1941, brothers Joe and Dom (who played for the Red Sox) DiMaggio flanked Ted Williams, the Boston hitter who was Joe’s equal in many ways. There is an element of bravado and innocence in the photograph that underscores not only the rivalry between the two teams but also a more innocent bygone era. As he attempted to and succeeded in beating Babe Ruth’s season home record in 1961, Roger Maris was growing increasingly weary of the undivided attention that he got. There is a color photograph of Maris sitting in the dugout but facing away from home plate that captures all the fatigue that the player felt.
Crisp narratives of each historic decade, photographs that speak volumes, and poignant sound bites from erstwhile players all make this a compelling book even if you are not a Yankee fan. Frommer has put together a book that is an apt farewell to a grand old institution that has been an integral part of a long and successful tradition.