This time it was 1951 and I was attending wholeheartedly
My first Yankee game; the Yanks were in the midst
Of winning five Championships in a row. I was in my
Third year as a fan of my Bronx home team and loving it.
I was at the game, in person, live, amazed that the Stadium
Had so many colors; I’d seen only home games on my TV
And in those days, everything was in black and white,
Which was all I needed (not knowing any better)
Since the hometown uniforms were a pristine white
With black lettering and those clean, crisp, classy pinstripes.
And here I was, sitting in the bleachers, sixty cents a ticket,
Having trouble seeing the batters a distance away, but
Having no difficulty seeing the rookie right fielder, Mickey Mantle,
And the old center fielder, Joltin’ Joe Di Maggio.
I don’t remember much of the details of the game;
I recall the Yankees beat the Tigers, who featured
George Kell and Vic Wertz, both strong hitters;
I can imagine filling myself with hot dogs and hearing
Loud noises coming from the vendors and the fans there
To show their love for the Yankee Clipper in his final year.
It’s okay that I can’t bring back to my consciousness
The details of the game; the point is, I was there;
For the first time, I bonded with my fellow Yankee fans
In ways that I cannot explain but I can feel.
And I saw real baseball, so much better than the images
Fed to me by my RCA TV: those colors (rich green grass,
Golden infield, pristine white foul lines and bases —
At least for a few minutes until the game began),
Watching batting practice a full hour prior to the game, the
Uniforms — and the sounds: the anthem, the
Home plate ump, still the fans and vendors increasing volume by the inning.
And the deep, trained voice of the public address announcer
(“Now batting for the New York Yankees, Number 5, Joe Di Maggio,
Number 5). the smells of food and cigars; it was not just a game that I would
Always remember. It was an event, a milestone in my young life —
And when it ended and we walked out of the House that Ruth Built,
Baseball had cemented itself into my heart indelibly.
The center fielder retired at the end of the season, after the Yanks
Won their third straight World Series, beating the Giants,
With rookie Willie Mays and playoff hero Bobby Thompson,
Four games to two; that Series was impressive
But the best game of the season was the only one that I attended.