The Slow Demolition of the Original Yankee Stadium

When the New York Mets built their new stadium, CitiField, it did not take them long to demolish their previous ballpark, Shea Stadium. (Read my article about the Curse of Shea, which is still going strong with injuries and health issues to their superstars Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes.)  The New York Yankees also debuted a new ballpark last season, but they have been much slower and more deliberate in the process of bringing down the House That Ruth Built.

The New York Times has a great article (with some very dramatic images) about the "slow demolition" of the original Yankee Stadium.  When I went on my tour of the new stadium, I admit it was spooky to still see the shell of the old "cathedral" across the street, the familiar blue seats gutted out, but those iconic walls still standing.

A lot of other big buildings and stadiums are often brought down in a spectacular controlled implosion, which makes for a nice photo opportunity and press event.  (Just go to YouTube, search for "stadium implosion," and you'll discover a bunch of videos to satisfy any primal destructive urges you might have.) Here in New York, with subways, residential buildings, highly trafficked roads, lots of restaurants and other active retail businesses nearby, blowing up the Stadium with dynamite was not an option -- controlled implosions are illegal in New york City for obvious reasons.  So, the powers-that-be have been slowly taking the Stadium apart bit by bit.  First the field, then the seats, now the rest of the mammoth structure, section by section, gate by gate.

It has been a long goodbye.  Already, the Yankees have won a World Series Championship in the new ballpark, all the while the old Stadium has stood by as a sentinel, watching in the shadows, as if giving the new home of the Bronx Bombers its blessing.

For Yankee fans, and I would guess even for many Yankee haters, the old stadium was a historic place with incredible memories attached to it.  It seems fitting that it has taken so long for it to be erased from where it has stood all these decades.  Up until now, we all knew its days were numbered, but seeing it still standing there, empty, was somehow comforting. Soon, however, it will be completely gone. 

Maybe it would have been best to just find a way to get rid of it in one fell swoop -- make the pain quick, like ripping off a bandage. Instead, it has been a "long goodbye."  But then again, the months-long process of taking it apart seems more respectful, as if the hardworking crews, who are diligently putting the ballpark to its final rest, know that they are doing their duties on sacred ground where legends of the game once walked, where ghosts of the past might still linger.

The location of the old Yankee Stadium will now be a park for local kids to play, and trees will be planted in the dimensions of the old field. It will be good to walk through it someday and remember the Stadium as it once was, and maybe even hear the roar of the crowd from the new ballpark across the street, imagining it to be the cheers of generations past that made the original Yankee Stadium such a special place.

For a great tribute to the original ballpark, check out this page at Yankees.com and read this terrific book available at Amazon.com.

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