Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE
I was born in the Bronx. I grew up fifteen blocks from Yankee Stadium and twenty two blocks from the old Polo Grounds. This year the House that Ruth built is going to be torn down and replaced by a 1.3 billion dollar new Yankee Stadium. The Feld Mens’ Annual Trip (my brother, his two sons Jon and Kenny, and me and my two sons, Brad and Daniel) are going to the old Yankee Stadium. We are going to the Yankee Stadium for the sake of nostalgia and the celebration of my bother Charlie’s and my youth.
I have many Yankee Stadium stories. One unforgettable story happened in 1948 when I was ten years old and my brother was six.
Every Saturday morning when the Yankees were in town the Herald Tribune Fresh Air Fund distributed a limited number of tickets to the Saturday afternoon baseball game at local police stations throughout the city. The tickets were distributed on Tuesday afternoons. As soon as school ended, my friends and I would run over to the Tremont Avenue police station as fast as we could to pick up our tickets. Most of the times we were successful in getting to the police station because we were able to run the seventeen blocks to the station faster than most of the other kids in the neighborhood.
When Charlie was six years old he begged me week after week to take him to Yankee Stadium on Saturday morning to interview a Yankee player and to see a Yankee game in person. The ten inch black and white TV we had in the apartment was nothing like the real deal.
I had a difficult time saying yes because taking him to a Saturday Yankee game had a few problems. First, he couldn’t run as fast as we could to the police station on Tuesday. Second, the policeman wouldn’t give a six year old a ticket to the Yankee game. Third, and most important my mother would not let me a ten year old, take Charlie, a six year old, to Yankee Stadium to see a baseball game.
However, Charlie’s persistence was compelling. He talked my mother into letting me take him. This was the major barrier. It was an easy subway ride from Mt. Eden Avenue to 161st Street and River Avenue. Kids his age got into the subway free accompanied by an adult. I figured we could figure that out. When we got to the subway station I would ask an adult to take him in for me. It cost me 5 cents and we would be on our way.
I had one admission ticket to the game. I figured he was so small I could sneak him in behind me. They let us into the stadium at 10.30 am for an 11 am interview with one or two Yankee ball players. So far that year we had interviewed Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, Bobby Brown, and Snuffy Stirnwiess.
We got to Yankee Stadium at 10 am one Saturday morning. There were lots of kids there on line already. I was sure I would have not trouble sneaking him into the ballpark. The line started moving. My poor brother was getting pushed along the pole by the crush of other kids while hiding behind me. In two minutes we made it through the gate and into Yankee Stadium without a hitch.
I had just read Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn in sixth grade. It was all about mischief. Successfully getting my brother into the Yankee Stadium made me fee like a 1948 version of Huckleberry Finn. I also realized the ticket taker knew my brother didn’t have a ticket. He let us in because he thought it was cute for an older brother to help a younger brother go to the game.
We made it and we were both thrilled. In the grandstands all the kids were betting on which players would show up for the interview. Hank Bauer and Charlie Keller showed up. Two hundred and fifty ten year olds with tickets to the Herald Tribute Fresh Air Fund Saturday Baseball game and one six year old without a ticket interviewed Hank Bauer and Charlie Keller for forty five minutes. A glorious 45 minutes for all of us.
My brother insists that we interviewed Bob Cerf. I remember the Bob Cerf interview but I believe it was different year.
After the interviews we were let loose in the grandstands to retrieve any baseballs hit in the grandstands during batting practice. My team the Bronx Red Wing strategically placed guys in different sections of the grandstands. We never failed to snag 5 baseballs at the Saturday session of batting practice. We played with those balls all the next week.
The Herald Tribune fed us hot dogs and soda for lunch. There is nothing like eating a hot dog with mustard at Yankee Stadium. I can still taste them. We then settled in to watch the game. Charlie and I got home at about 5.30 pm after leaving the house at 9.15 am. He looked a little droopy and tired. I remember my father asking us when we walked through the apartment door. “What have you guys done interesting today?”
Can any of you imagine giving your kids the opportunity to do all that at the new Yankee Stadium next year in 2009?
The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.