The first ever professional sports venue I ever attended was the old Texas Ranger stadium in Arlington. A converted minor league park it really wasn't much to look at but to my eyes it was magnificent! My brother and I were both awestruck by the vastness of it as we explored with wide-eyed wonder a few hours before our first ever in person New York Yankees game. I thought to myself: Are they really going to let us in?
After that we've made it an annual pilgrimage to see the Yankees when they come to town. The warts of the old stadium came to light - especially when it rained. There was simply no cover and I remember freezing in wet jeans as I was determined to stick it out no matter what. When construction started on the new ballpark in the early 90's, it was like watching a cathedral on high erected before our very eyes. We were like dedazzled peasants standing before a newly built Notre Dame.
The Ballpark In Arlington opened in 1994 and I guess because I was so inspired by the sight of its initial construction it still seems a wondrous place to me. If I could I'd shut it down for a day and explore each and every inch. On game day there never seems to be the time to fully absorb all the details and atmosphere. I always walk out feeling cheated on leaving too soon. "Hey wait, I was just getting to know you again!"
Sights and sounds from the day and the game
This year we had the best seats we've ever had (or probably will again). Slightly to the left of home plate on the visitor's side (we never sit on the Ranger's side!), we had a unique view of the action and I planned to take complete advantage of that with my video equipment. Legendary New York Yankees were in the ball park and this was as close as we'd ever been!
Some recent changes (for the better) had been made in the center field area so I decided to take tour of place like I hadn't in a long time.
Some of the great baseball schtick could be found as I walked around:
Views of the park were spectacular on a day of perfect weather:
Even Yankees' batting practice causes a stir.
Future Hall Of Famer Marion Rivera, the greatest reliever in baseball history, gets pulled in by the cry of the fans.
Finally, time to play ball! We were so close it was much like watching it on TV we could see the batter and the angle of the pitches so well. When watching from the outfield all you can really appreciate is the stroke of the batter's bat when he gets a hit. But you can't really tell if he hit a great pitch or a mistake pitch, you only know the outcome.
Check out Jeter's day at the park!
Jeter and Cano both got knocked in later in the inning for a 2-0 Yankee lead. They never trailed during the game.
The flavor of the ballpark just can't be recreated with your fancy home theater.
Score was 7-4 in favor of the Yankees as we reached the bottom of the ninth. All time saves leader Mariano Rivera made his usual jaunt to the mound to extend his major league record for most saves. See highlights of history in the video below!
After the game all that was left was the congratulations, the clean up and the slow filing out of fans both happy and sad.
I will never be able to explain the mythology of baseball, of why it's so deeply ingrained into our national fabric and psyche. Played since the Civil War, its appeal reaches into the heart of every little boy like an ancient anthem he knows even before hearing. There's a connection here that reaches across time, sending us home again if only for a few hours. That's the magic of baseball.
So much more I could not fit in this post. Click here to see the entire photo collection.