Parents’ argument cost me a piece of Yankee Stadium history
It’s funny the things that can get latched into your brain, planted in your memory, and just stay there forever. At this exact moment I have absolutely zero recollection of where my car keys are. I have set an alert on my phone to make sure I don’t forget a friend’s birthday in a few weeks for the eighth year in a row.
But damned if I don’t remember exactly where I was on the afternoon of Friday, May 10, 1974. My father was a two-newspaper man: Daily News on the LIRR in the morning, Post on the way home. So it was a matter of logistics and good fortune that The Post became the first newspaper I ever read regularly.
Usually he’d walk in the door, take off his hat and fling me the paper so I could go absorb stories and boxscores and faithfully read Serby (who loves when I tell him I was reading him since I was 7; that part of this fable may or may not be true).
But I remember this day because of this ad, on page 87 of The Post. Because he kept the paper in his hands and showed it to my mother: For the low, low price of $7.50, he could go to Korvette’s and buy one of the chairs from the old Yankee Stadium that was being torn down as he spoke (plus, you’ll note, five empty packs of Winston Crush-Proof cigarettes).
And right there, first time I can remember, my parents had an argument. As these things usually worked out, Mom won. I’m not sure if it was brand loyalty (both of them were faithful L&M King smokers), though, in honesty, the two of them in those years would’ve plowed through five packs of lung darts by lunchtime on any random Tuesday.
Was it price? Well, $7.50 in 1974 isn’t what $7.50 is today; it’s actually closer to $39. I’m not saying that would’ve broken us, but there were probably a hundred different things that money could’ve been better spent on. Pop fought the good fight, but he never had a shot here. And we never did get that Yankee Stadium chair.
Through the years I would run into one of those things occasionally. Back when Runyon’s was the king of all New York sporting saloons, they had a couple of seats outside, by the front door, and I cooled by heels more than once sitting in them. Other friends whose families had deeper pockets (or different power dynamics) would pull them out of an attic/basement/garage periodically, and I would feel a pang of regret.
I’m not sure the chair would’ve survived the moves and the moods of the past 46 years (though old stadium chairs are harder to just throw out than shoeboxes filled with baseball cards), but I’d like to think I’d have found a way to keep that one in the family. I’m an only child. That would’ve been the best part of my inheritance.
Plus, it’s always made me smile how innocent the destruction of old Yankee Stadium was. After the last game ever played there, Sept. 30, 1973, many of the 32,238 in attendance had come bearing wrenches, hammers and screwdrivers and simply walked out of the park with as many of those seats as they could carry — and nobody said a word.
The Yankees, in a pre-eBay world and in a time with a limited thirst for sports memorabilia, had little idea what to do with all of their … stuff. In fact, Bert Randolph Sugar, the late boxing writer and sports historian, called up that week and asked if he could sift through the mounting ruins. The Yankees wondered what a man could possibly want with their trash, and quoted him a figure.
“And not at all a fair one, at least far as they were concerned, thank you very much!” as Sugar delighted in saying. He brought 18 U-Haul trucks, unearthed some gems (Babe Ruth’s contracts, Lou Gehrig’s uniform) and hauled off thousands of seats, too.
(That last paragraph surely just made Brandon Steiner pass out.)
I told Sugar my story once and he took it in, as if I’d just asked him if he’d rather take Ali or Sugar Ray in his prime.
“Tell your father he might have lost the argument,” he said. “But he was right.”
I assume Mark Twain probably had someone other than Blake Snell in mind when he observed, “It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.”
There is nobody who can spin a basketball yarn quite like Charley Rosen, and his latest hoops novel, “Trouthe, Lies & Basketball,” only reinforces that fact.
The longer this baseball desert goes on, I wonder how many times the folks in the Wilpon and Katz families ask aloud if anyone still has Steve Cohen’s number on speed dial.
Just asking: How’s that much-improved culture around the Giants working out so far?
Whack Back at Vac
Scott Wolinetz: At least DeAndre Baker and his friends were considerate enough to wear masks when allegedly holding those guys up so that they didn’t spread any germs.
Vac: I mean … we laugh so we don’t cry, am I right?
John Lombard: With the DH coming to the National League and expanded 30-man rosters, it’s inevitable that Tim Tebow will be in Queens this summer!
Vac: Well, the skeptics always said it would take an Act of God to get Tebow to the major leagues, right?
@drschnipp: It’s rare to see a player say to his team, “Climb on my back and let me carry you to the promised land” and actually do it. Magic, Messier and Namath succeeded while Patrick Ewing and others have not.
@MikeVacc: The other great question many have asked this week: Best title-clinching game ever, Magic in ’80 (42-15-7) or Clyde in ’70 (36-7-19)?
Jimmy Sullivan: You could not have picked a better favorite player. Chico Resch was a great goalie and a better person. I was an office official for 43 years at the Coliseum, and Chico always had time for everyone, no matter how late it was.
Vac: I haven’t always picked my sports leanings perfectly. But I have no doubt I got my very first idol absolutely right.
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