My Favorite Yankees Playoff Memory

I’ve been to many Yankees playoff games, both home and away, over the years.

Old Yankee Stadium

Some of the amazing World Series games that I’ve been fortunate enough to see in person were game 2 of the 2000 World Series (Clemens throwing the bat at Piazza), game 5 of the 2001 World Series (dramatic extra inning win for the second night in a row), and game 6 of the 2009 World Series (my only clinch game).

But the game that really sticks out for me is game 2 of the 1995 ALDS against the Mariners.

I was so excited just to see Don Mattingly in the playoffs, and I knew it might be the last time I saw him in pinstripes.

I went to the game with my older brother, and we got some seats out in the lower deck in right field. Andy Pettitte was the starter against Andy Benes. It was cold and drizzling, but the Stadium was so electric as the teams exchanged runs.

As we hit the extra innings, I was nervous like crazy, but also felt good about the Yankees bats. I was hoping Donnie Baseball would hit a homerun to end things. When the clock passed midnight, I knew I was going to be calling in sick to work.

And then the real rains came. Pouring down. I was worried that they might delay until the next day. But they kept on playing.

I can still feel that explosive feeling in my chest when Jim Leyritz connected in the bottom of the fifteenth with a two-run walk-off homerun. I was soaked and ecstatic.

The winning pitcher for that game… Mariano Rivera.

Gary Collins Rests in Peace at the Old Yankee Stadium

My Dad, Gary Collins, passed on his love for the Yankees to me from the time I was a little kid. Same with my brother.

That’s him looking like Eddie Munster as a kid.

Gary Collins as a kid

So, when he died on June 12, 2002, my brother and I decided to spread his ashes in places he loved.

One of those was the old Yankee Stadium.

We went on a Stadium tour with little baggies of his ashes stashed in strategic places. He was laid to rest in the home dugout, the warning track, Monument Park, all over the place.

This wasn’t so long after 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax scare, and we were sprinkling an unusual powder around the Stadium, so we were a little afraid that we’d get arrested, but we escaped without trouble.

For the many games we went to at the Stadium after that, it was a plus that we could have some drinks with our Dad and visit him as we cheered on the Yanks.

This made it all extra emotional to see the old Stadium coming down.

Old Yankee Stadium Being Torn Down

But it’s great to see kids playing there these days on that hallowed ground.

I gave our Yankees a mention in my eulogy to him

“Just a few days ago, I came to terms with the fact that I would never again have a mid-day chat with him about up and coming guys on the Yankees.

This past week, we would have been talking about how Nick Johnson is coming along, and how great it was that this kid Marcus Thames jacked out a homerun on his first-ever Major League pitch.”

Among the things we included with him to be cremated were an autographed baseball from David Wells (one of his favorite players around that time), a Yankees World Series 1998 baseball cap, and the 2002 Yankees media guide that I’d bought him that year for Father’s Day and was never able to give him.

We also got a Yankee related tribute for him with an ad in the outfield at Mickey Mantle Field in Commerce, OK.

In memory of John Gary Collins

You can see it out in right field below.

Grenade in the outfield

I look forward to my next visit to the Stadium, so I can peek over to where he still gets to be at the ballpark every day.

My First Trip to Old Yankee Stadium

old-yankee-stadium

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia User Kjetil_r

It was fun reading Shawn’s post about his first Yankees “home” game. It inspired me to write my own. One of the downsides of growing up in Utah is that there’s no professional baseball. The closest major league stadium is in Denver – 500 miles away. Before the Rockies became a team in 1993, the closest baseball stadium for me was in Los Angeles. [Read more…]

Final Game at Yankee Stadium

I went to the last game at “old” Yankee Stadium with my brother.

Shawn and Mike at the Last Game at Yankee Stadium

The New York Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles on September 21, 2008.

I am so glad I captured some footage outside and inside the game, including the last time New York, NY was played there.

The Yankees beat Baltimore 7-3 at that game.

I'll Never Forget the Roar of the Crowd at the end of the last game at Yankee Stadium

Video: Final Game at Yankee Stadium

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