Big Ben Whitney: My Five Best Yankees Games in Person

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BRONXX, NY – Monday night was my first New York Yankees game on the season. Hopefully, they’re turning the bus away from an unexpected detour in Mediocrity City and have set the navigation to Dominationtown. In the meantime, I thought I would re-live the top 5 Yankee games I’ve seen in person. Enjoy.

October 1, 2002: Bern Baby Bern

The 2002 Yankees were a powerhouse, winning 103 games. They were upended by Garrett Anderson, David Eckstein and the upstart Angels in 4 games in the best of five ALDS.

The Yankees only win was in Game 1, a comeback win capped by a three run Bernie Williams bomb. Sure, the Yankees lost this series, and I’ve been to more important Yankees playoff games, but the Stadium literally exploded in this moment. Well, not literally, but it was shaking.

1983: Every Breath You Take and Billy Jean were topping the pop charts, Scarface and Return of the Jedi were dominating the box office

It was also memorable because my friend Josh, a die-hard fan of all Philly teams and Yankee hater, got caught up in the moment and jumped from his seat in jubilation. I may let him live that down, in about 600 more years.

September 30, 1984: Mattingly, Winfield and the Batting Title

In a meaningless final game for the Yankees, Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield played for a batting title. Winfield led Mattingly .3410 to .3395 to start the day, but Donnie Baseball won the title with four hits. Mattingly was forced on a Winfield grounder in his last AB. The Yanks pinch ran for Winfield and they both came off the field together to a standing ovation.

I also grabbed a foul ball at the same time as the grown man sitting right in front of me. He pulled it away from me violently as someone spilled (or dumped) a beer on my head. He waived the ball around in celebration while my Mommy cleaned off the beer. I was thirteen. I hope that guy’s kids hate him. Not really. Maybe just a painful boil on his ass.

I’m back there somewhere

July 24, 2004: Fistacuffs in Fenway

July 24, 2004 was my first time at Fenway. It was a late after Saturday nationally televised game. There was a rain delay, so many of the people at the game were nice and boozy by the time the game started. It was your typical Fenway Park game, with tons of runs and not much pitching.

At some point, A-Rod got beaned and ended up in a hug brawl with Jason Varitek.  I did get some slight abuse after that, wearing my Yankees hat, but mostly when I was alone and Sully, Mac, or whoever was with ten of his friends.

The Yankees ended up handing the ball to Mo with a three run lead. “What are you still doing here,” I taunted, “Mo’s in, this game is over.” Man, I miss that guy. But alas, it wasn’t to be. Mariano didn’t have it and ended up giving up a three-run walkoff to Bill Mueller. My friend Jay tried to take off his Yankees hat as we bolted out of the stadium, with abuse raining down. But I wouldn’t let him. We had to take our medicine like men.

Slapfight!

Late ’90s Old Timer’s Game: Donny Tosses me a Ball

Back in the day, my friend Jay, the same guy in the story above, would occasionally get four seats right on the Yankees’ dugout from his Dad’s company. The first time was an Old Timer’s Game in the late ’90s. I don’t remember the year or much about the game, but I remember those seats. Try as they might, the players cannot ignore you. Another friend scared the hell out of Fred Stanley by screaming “THE CHICKENNNN” the top of his lungs. The Chicken was happy to be recognized but also scared.

Mattingly tossed a warm up ball high so it bounced off the dirt in front of the dugout and landed on top. The ball rolled right to Jay, but he muffed it and it landed it my lap. I wanted to give it to him, he got these great seats and all. But it was Donny Baseball. I was pretty sure he wanted me to have it.

Jay got those seats about once a season after that. The last time we went, Jay got kicked out and jeopardized his Dad’s season tickets by dancing on the dugout. He was about to move to Europe and a security guard was encouraging him. Thanks for the memories Jay.

That looks like a whole lot of pine tar

July 24, 1983: The Pine Tar Game

Exactly 23 years to the day before the A-Rod/Varitek incident, I was at the infamous Pine Tar Game. It looked like a comfortable Yankees win and the place had cleared out some when George Brett tomahawked a Goose Gossage fastball into the right field seats.

In those days, you could move down when people left and we made it all the way to the first row on the third base line. Now I’m not even allowed to look at box seats. I was desperately hoping someone would ground one foul against the wall where I would a chance to reach out and grab it.

When Billy Martin came out for a discussion with the umps, no one could guess the reason for the delay. 1983 was a strange time when you had to converse with other humans to gather information. When Brett was called out and blew a gasket, we were all completely in the dark. We didn’t know what happened until the drive home.

Comment below with your most memorable Yankees game. And come back tomorrow for Angry Ward, who once had the same reaction as Brett when his wife told him they were out of peanut butter. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About the Author ()

Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.

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