I was a few weeks shy of my 9th birthday when I finally attended my first Yankee game(s).
At the time, I was extremely frustrated with my father for waiting so long to take me to Yankee Stadium. I assumed it was because I was a girl and that if his first born child had been male, he’d have been to a few games by then.
My dad made up for it in a big way by taking me to a single admission doubleheader in August 1983. The Yankees were scheduled to play the Toronto Blue Jays and on top of being able to see two games in one day, my dad also invited Joe, the boy I had a crush on to go with us, along with two of my other friends, Billy and John.
As a young girl, I led a double life, so to speak. I did girly things like play with Barbies, watch soap operas, swoon over bands like Duran Duran and gossip about the boys during lunch with my girlfriends but I also would trade baseball cards, play wiffle ball, hang out in tree houses and play kickball with the boys during recess.
We had passed Yankee Stadium many times while taking trips into the city or out to Long Island to visit relatives so it wasn’t like I hadn’t seen it before. It always seemed so enormous to me and when I walked inside for the first time it was even bigger than I had imagined. 8-year-old Stacey was in total awe.
I soaked in as much as I could as we made our way to our seats. The grass seemed so much greener in person than it did on TV, almost smaragdine in color. And the blue outfield walls were much more vibrant in person. The scoreboard was massive and home plate seemed so far away from our seats.
I did not want to sit down, I wanted to explore the Stadium.
I remember what I wore that day because it was my favorite outfit to wear that summer. It was a white top and shorts outfit that had blocks of pastel pink, yellow and blue on it — it such an 80′s outfit. At the time, I didn’t realize how much of a hassle it was for my dad to bring four 8-year-olds to the Stadium alone. Now, I know. I don’t have children of my own but I’ve seen other fellow Yankee fans struggling with theirs at games and I have to give my dad some credit for doing that for me.
Our seats were in the first row of the second to last section in left field at field level (Section 34). In those days, the wall extended all the way back to the seats – there was no space for balls to fall into, no plexiglass, no fold up chairs – so if anything were to be hit our way, we’d probably catch it. Well, not me, because as much as I loved watching sports as a little girl, I wasn’t allowed to participate in most of them – particularly baseball and softball – because I had eye issues (previous surgery) and my hand/eye coordination was pretty poor. That made playing the outfield in kickball during recess quite the adventure sometimes.
I remember having my first Yankee Stadium hot dog, my first bag of peanuts and I recall playing with a mustard packet during the first game of the doubleheader. I was using both thumbs to squeeze it over and over again with the mustard going from one side to the other inside the plastic until it couldn’t take anymore, burst open and splattered all over my father who unfortunately was wearing white from head to toe. He yelled at me and I was so embarrassed that he did that in front of the boy I liked.
Anyway, without further adieu, here is the first New York Yankees lineup I saw in action:
|Willie Randolph 2B||5||2||3||0||0||0||.279||.719||GDP|
|Graig Nettles 3B||5||1||1||0||0||2||.256||.799|
|Dave Winfield LF||5||3||3||2||0||1||.273||.844||2B|
|Oscar Gamble DH||4||1||2||3||0||0||.304||.952||HR,HBP|
|Butch Wynegar C||5||0||2||2||0||0||.309||.846|
|Steve Kemp RF||5||0||0||0||0||0||.258||.748|
|Don Mattingly 1B||4||0||2||0||0||1||.333||.857||2B|
|Jerry Mumphrey CF||2||1||0||0||2||0||.264||.736|
|Andre Robertson SS||3||0||0||0||0||0||.259||.626||SH|
A few of the names are very recognizable to people now – Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Willie Randolph, and Graig Nettles – and others aren’t as recognizable, unless those people are diehard baseball fans like us.
Mattingly had only been up a little while at that point, Randolph and Nettles were mainstays from the bygone Bronx Zoo era and Winfield was Winfield.
The Yankees were fortunate in that first game. Their starter, Ron Guidry, pitched a complete game which is a luxury during a doubleheader.
Remember those days, when complete games were not a rare occurrence?
I was a little disappointed that I didn’t see any home runs in that first game. It wasn’t that the Yankees didn’t hit any, we just made an ill-timed bathroom and food break in the third inning of the first game and we missed Gamble’s home run — at that point my dad probably was regretting bringing that many kids to a game with no one to help him out.
Luckily for us, we saw some home runs during game two.
Here’s the lineup for that game:
|Willie Randolph 2B||4||1||1||0||1||0||.278||.717|
|Graig Nettles 3B||5||1||2||0||0||3||.258||.802||2B|
|Larry Milbourne 3B||0||0||0||0||0||0||.217||.518|
|Dave Winfield LF||4||2||1||1||1||1||.273||.850||HR|
|Ken Griffey 1B||3||2||3||4||2||0||.339||.860||HR|
|Don Baylor DH||5||2||2||1||0||1||.299||.856||HR,SB|
|Don Mattingly RF||5||2||2||1||0||0||.336||.870||2·2B|
|Jerry Mumphrey CF||3||1||0||0||2||0||.261||.733|
|Rick Cerone C||5||0||2||1||0||0||.205||.548|
|Andre Robertson SS||3||0||0||1||0||2||.256||.619||SF|
You’ll notice a few changes. Namely, Ken Griffey, Don Baylor and Rick Cerone being inserted in place of Mattingly, Oscar Gamble and Butch Wynegar. And no, you’re not seeing things, Don Mattingly was moved into right field for the second game.
That lineup scored 11 runs off of Toronto pitching with Winfield, Griffey and Baylor all going deep – Griffey and Baylor went back-to-back in the bottom of the first. Griffey hit a grand slam to right and Baylor hit a solo shot to left and no, we didn’t catch it. It wasn’t that close to us.
The most amusing thing about that whole day was that I thought the Yankees had won both of those games simply because I was there. What an inflated sense of self for a little girl of 8-years-old to have but there seemed to be some truth to it for a while.
I had a 10-game winning streak to open my game going experience. That streak ended during a game against the Red Sox in September 1984. I, unfortunately, had developed a fever around the fifth inning just as Boston was in the midst of scoring three runs to go ahead 4-1. (Maybe the run scoring made me ill?)
My Uncle George had gotten us the tickets in the loge level, above the visitor’s dugout and as I sat there in a blue and white Strawberry Shortcake polo shirt, blue jeans and my white Nike sneakers with the red swoosh and blue stripe along the rubber sole (think Forrest Gump), my condition deteriorated.
I did not want to leave because even as a kid, I felt like I needed to stay until the last out but it was impossible to do so, as I was growing weaker and weaker by the second.
We ended up listening to the Yankees lose the game during the car ride home – they lost 4-3 – and I, of course, blamed myself for the debacle and I didn’t sit in the loge of the Stadium again until sometime in the early 1990′s.
Children can be so silly.
Who am I kidding? I will still wear outfits I deem to be good luck to games, will sit in certain seats and in certain order with the people I’m with and I’m nearly 39-years-old. Some habits never change and some superstitions never die.
If you remember your first game, look it up, take a gander at the lineup and talk about it in the comments. If you are one of those people who attended a game when you were so little that you don’t actually remember it – I have a friend who claims to have been in her mom’s womb during Dave Righetti‘s no-hitter earlier that year – talk about the first game you remember attending.