THE YANKEE PARTY OF THE CENTURY

THE "BOYS" UP THERE SPEAK!

 

Hello everyone, this is Mel Allen. Today I'm up here with some of the greatest Yankees of the century, and I thought it would be a great treat for all of you to hear from them as we approach the end of the 1900s. The New York Yankees dominated the last 100 years in baseball and the guys up here played a major role in that domination. The "boys" are having a Yankee Century Party and all the great Yankees are here. The "Babe," the "Iron Horse," the "Yankee Clipper," the "Mick," "Billy," Roger, Thurman, and the "Catfish." What a sight this is. Now you, the fans of the century, will have a chance to "hear" from them. Man, how about that?

Hey Babe, got a minute? Sure, Mel. First of all Babe, I would like to congratulate you on being named the Associated Press' Athlete of the Century. Thanks, Mel. I'm honored to have been selected and I would like to share the award with every Yankee that has put on the pinstripes. It is truly a high honor for me and it means so much to be still remembered after all these years. Babe, as you know, the Yankee franchise has been blessed with many great moments. Of all the players who have donned the pinstripes, you have had the most. Could you tell the Yankee fans of today what your most memorable moment was as a Yankee? Excuse me for one-second Mel, hey DiMaggio, can you put about seven hot dogs on my plate? Thanks, Joe. Sorry, Mel. Basically, I have three very memorable moments as a Yankee. The first happened on April 23rd, 1923. That was the day that the Yankee Stadium opened. I'll tell you Mel, it was so exciting. There were over 74,000 people there that day and I wanted to hit the first homer in the new park. We were playing the Red Sox that day and I got my wish when I hit a three-run homer in the third inning. As I ran around the bases I thought to myself, wow I just hit the first homer in this magnificent place. I knew from that day that the Stadium would always be something special.

My second memorable moment was when the Yankees won our first world championship in 1923. Oh, what a team we had then. You know Mel, a lot of people talk about my hitting that year but we had two great pitchers in Sam Jones and Herb Pennock. It was so sweet to beat our arch-rivals, the New York Giants in the world series. My 60 homers in 1927 is my third most memorable moment as a Yankee. I had set the homer mark in 1921 with 59 homers and it was a thrill to hit my 60th on September 30, 1927.

Babe, you have been up here for a long time. What do you miss the most? Mel, I miss the fans. I miss having a few beers with the fans in New York City after a game at the Stadium. Those fans have always been special and from my view up here, they still are. Most of all though, I miss the kids. I was always amazed how a child would brighten up when he or she saw me. Here I was doing something that I love and kids adored me for that. I could never get over that fact, and I tried to always find time for these kids. This is a message I would like to get across to the players of today. Please take time out and thank the fans. The fans make the game. Without the fans, there is no game. That's why I love that kid Jeter. That kid realizes the fans are important and I commend him for that. Thanks Babe, enjoy the hot dogs.

Hey Lou, can I ask you a few questions? Sure, Mr.Allen. How are you enjoying the party, Lou? This is great, Mr. Allen. To be celebrating with the Babe, Tony Lazzeri, Joe DiMaggio and the rest of guys is a great way to end a century. Lou, I asked the Babe to tell the fans about his memorable moments as a Yankee and we all would like to know what yours were.

Well, Mr. Allen, I would have to say one of my most memorable moments occurred on June 3rd 1932. On that day, I hit 4 homers in one game against the Philadelphia team. I'm very proud of that feat because I'm the only New York Yankee to have ever done it. That certainly was a great day for me, but Mr. Allen, my most memorable moment as a Yankee came on July 4th 1939. That was the day the New York Yankees honored me on "Lou Gehrig Day" at Yankee Stadium. There were 62,000 people at Yankee Stadium that day and my number "4" was retired. That was the first number ever to be retired in baseball.

The day was very special to me because I never realized the affection the fans had for me. As I looked around the crowd that day, I saw people crying. These were people who never met me, yet they cared so much about my well-being. When I said "I considered myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth," I meant it. A man, no matter what fate has been dealt to him, is very lucky when so many people care. Yes, I was proud of my consecutive game streak, my 23-career grand slams, and being named Yankee captain in 1935 -- but more important to me--was the love the fans showed me that day. Thanks, Lou. My pleasure, Mr. Allen.

Joe, Joe DiMaggio, can I have a few minutes with you? Hi, Mel. Joe, I've been asking some Yankees here to tell the fans what their most memorable moment was as a Yankee. What was yours, Joe? Well, Mel, I'm sure you know it's probably the 56-game hitting streak in 1941. I'm very proud of that streak because for 56 consecutive games, I did something that every player in the game strives to do -- and that is -- get a hit. It started on May 15th of that year against a pitcher named Edgar Smith. It ended on July 17th in Cleveland.
Mel, I had many great moments as a Yankee, but the one that really got to me was the day the Yankees had for me on September 27th, 1998. You see Mel, I knew I was in tough shape then and this would probably be my last visit to Yankee Stadium. Those fans that day gave me such an ovation, it gave me chills. What was more special to me, was that most of the people in that park never saw me play, but you wouldn't know it by the affection they showed for me. When the Yankees presented me with the world series rings that were stolen from me, I was filled with such emotion that only can be experienced in that park. I miss it so much, but being up here with these fellow great Yankees makes it a lot easier. Class as usual, Joe. Thanks.

Hey Mickey, Billy, come over here. Man, you guys are a team even up here. Billy, I'd like you to tell the fans what your most memorable moments as a Yankee were. Okay Mel, but first I would like to pay tribute to the current group of Yankees. I watched them very closely for the last couple of years and I've never seen a team of professionals like the current Yankees. They hustle and go out to win every day. What a bunch. I would have loved to have that guy O'Neill play for me. He has a lot of heart and he's my type of player. Yankee fans are lucky to be able to watch this guy play every day.

As far as my most memorable moment, it would have to be the catch I made against the Dodgers in the seventh game of the 1952 World Series. With the bases loaded in the seventh inning, Jackie Robinson hit a pop fly in the infield which no one made a move for. At the last second, I reacted and made a basket catch. That catch saved the game and world series as we won the game 4-2 and captured the series 4 games to 3.
Probably my second most memorable moment was when I managed the Yankees to their first pennant in 12 years when we won the pennant in 1976. George had brought me in to fire up the team in the middle of 1975 and I told him I would get the job done in '76. We had a bunch of great competitors on that team which was led by Thurman, Roy, Nettles, and "Catfish." Those guys gave me everything they had that year.

How about you, Mickey? Mel, I had many memorable moments as a Yankee. I would have to say the whole year of 1956 was memorable. That year I won the triple crown with a batting average of . 353, 52-homeruns, and 130 runs batted in. What made the year more special was that we won the world championship. I hit 18 world series homers in my career and those all were very special to me as they were hit when the whole world was watching. Mel, I also have very fond memories of "Mickey Mantle Day" on June 8th, 1969. On that day, there were over 61,000 fans at the Stadium to celebrate my 18 years as a Yankee. When I was driven around the Stadium in that golf cart, I couldn't believe the outpouring of love from the fans. On that day, I said I wish this could happen to every man in America. I still do. It was incredible. I wish I had appreciated the fans more while I was playing for the Yankees. I miss them very much.


Hi, Roger. Hey, Billy, Mickey, Mel. Roger, I'm asking the Yankee players up here what their most memorable moment was as a Yankee. For you, I guess it would be the 1961 season when you broke the Babe's record of most homers in a single season with 61. Mel, that was a memorable year for more reasons than one, but it's not my most memorable moment as a Yankee. As a matter of fact, my most memorable moment came not as an active player. On Opening Day, 1978 I, along with Mickey, was asked to hoist the Yankees 1997 World Championship Flag. This was the first time I had been back to the Stadium since I retired from the Cardinals in 1968. Mr.Steinbrenner had invited me back and I was so pleased and proud that he asked me. The fans were so great to me, it was my biggest thrill at Yankee Stadium. For on that day I got something that I didn't get in 1961 and that was respect. Thanks, Roger.

I'm walking over to two guys who brought the Yankees back to that lofty pinnacle of greatness in the mid seventies. Thurm, Catfish, how are you guys? We're great Mel. Guys, I've been asking the Yankees up here about their most memorable moments as a Yankee. What is yours Thurman? Mel, for me, it's got to be the whole 1976 season. That year I won the Most Valuable Player award and the Yankees won their first pennant in 12-years. That pennant and the world championships of '77 and '78 made me feel like a real Yankee. The Yankees are all about winning and now I had that great title of world champion. I was also touched by the fan reaction to my sudden death on August 2nd 1979. The reaction at the Stadium brought me to tears. So many people felt like they lost a friend and that touched me greatly. Thank you fans, and thank you all for always remembering me at the Stadium every Old Timer's Day. It means a lot to me and my family.

How about you, Catfish? Mel, for me, it was being the winning pitcher in the sixth and final game of the 1978 world series. As the fans know, 1978 was the year of the comeback. The Yankees were 14-games out of first place in July and we came back to become world champions in October. For me, it wasn't one of my better years. In a June game against the Red Sox, I was hit so hard, I thought it was the end for me. I spent some time on the DL and came back to pitch well down the stretch. It was very rewarding for me. Thanks Thurm, Catfish.

Well, fans, there you have it. The "boys" are partying pretty hard right now. The "Babe" is leading the toast to the Team Of The Century. What a sight this is. Babe is drinking "Knickerbocker," Mickey has a "Bud," and Billy is drinking "Miller-Lite" because "it tastes great." As the century comes to an end, it is now your turn to toast the Team Of The Century. For the great moments, for the spectacular plays, for the 25 World Championships. It's been quite a ride. Here's to the New York Yankees -- Team Of The Century!

 

Louis DiLullo 1999

 

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Game 7 Of The 2003 ALCS;

The "Stadium Gods" Come Through For Me

 

 

For me, Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS actually began about 10 minutes after my brother-in-law and I pulled out of the Yankee Stadium parking lot after Game 6. The Boston Red Sox had just beaten the Yankees 9-6, and we began to make our long way back to Providence .

 

It’s always tough driving home after a Yankee playoff loss. I can assure you that 187-mile trip back seems to take a lot longer when the Yanks come out on the short end of the score.  That trip was no different. As a matter of fact, that trip was excruciating.

 

During that drive home, we began to discuss the “what if” ramifications of a Game 7 Yankee loss. If the Red Sox beat the Yankees in Game 7 we had it all figured out. Forget about reading the Providence Journal or any local paper for the next six months. Listen to a local radio sports show? Forget it. Watch the sports on the local news? Are you kidding? We both work in Massachusetts and could only imagine the “torture” we would have to put up with all winter long. The more we talked about what it would be like, the more nervous I got just thinking about Game 7. I wondered to myself how I would survive watching that game at Yankee Stadium under that kind of pressure. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night.

 

The next day, I left my father’s store in Attleboro at 1 pm and headed down to Yankee Stadium. I couldn’t leave New England soon enough. I never realized how many people in Rhode Island and Massachusetts knew I was a Yankee fan. Messages were left on my cell phone. Sox fans were calling me up and confidently predicting a Pedro win. I made sure I didn’t listen to any local sports call in shows because I didn’t want to hear the “good vibes” coming from “Red Sox Nation”. Even the “music stations” were wishing the Sox well. 

 

I was anxious all the way down to the Bronx . A Yankee fan friend of mine was with me, and shared my nervous anticipation. I began to feel much better when I pulled into the Stadium lot at 4:30pm . I was back “home” and with my people. This was no more evident than when we headed into the Stadium Lanes bowling alley/bar across the street from the ballpark.

 

Once in the bar, there was no longer talk about a “Pedro win”. There were no confident Red Sox fans preparing for a parade. The place was full of Yankee fans that were all confident the “Bombers” would prevail and win the pennant. Yes sir, I was with my people and I was feeling a lot better about the game.

 

My confidence grew as I headed toward my seats inside the park.  The section I sit in is full of “regulars” who I have become friendly with over the years. We see games together from April to October, so these are the fans you want to be with for such an important game. They all know my story (Yankee fan living in Sox country) and knew how nervous I would be for this game. They all told me what I wanted to hear as I walked down to my seats.

 

When the Yankees fell quickly behind 4-0, we were a bit disappointed, but our confidence was still high. Then when Mike Mussina worked out of a first and third and no one out jam in the fourth, we all turned to each other and noted that was going to turn the game around. The Yankee were able to get closer to the Sox as two solo Giambi homers made the score 4-2. In the top of the eighth inning David Ortiz hit a homer off David Wells. When Ortiz hit the ball, you could hear the angst of 56,000 Yankee fans. I thought to myself the Yankees would need some “Yankee Stadium magic” to win this game.

 

 

With one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Derek Jeter doubled, and suddenly I felt that magic I was looking for. Yes, I know it’s not proper for a “rational” person to believe in magic; but sorry, I’ve seen so many magical moments at Yankee Stadium before, that it would be “irrational” for me to believe otherwise.

 

I’ve witnessed pennants and world championships won at Yankee Stadium. I saw two perfect games pitched in the Bronx . I had the privilege of seeing the unveiling of   Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio’s monuments. I was there when Roger Clemens won his 300th game in June. So as Jeter stood clapping his hands while standing on second base, these and other great moments streaked through my mind.

 

We were all standing up when Bernie Williams stroked a single to center and Jeter scored. The scoreboard in left center field read, Red Sox 5 Yankees 3, but for some reason, it felt the Yankees were in control. While still standing, Hideki Matsui lined a double right by us down the right field line. The Yanks had runners on second and third, and the place was going bananas.

 

With two strikes on him, Jorge Posada flared one to shallow center. From my vantage point, I knew it was going to drop. It did, and I swear, the Stadium was shaking. I still can remember myself leaning against the side wall, looking up to the sky, and thanking the Stadium Gods.

 

The ninth, tenth, and top of the eleventh inning were probably the most gut wrenching innings I have ever experienced at Yankee Stadium. In the top of the ninth, Todd Walker hit a two-out flare that I thought was going to go over Alfonso Soriano’s head for a run scoring single. I saw Soriano stumble back, and my heart sank. Soriano did catch the ball but for a moment there, I thought the Yanks were in big trouble.

 

The extra frames were killing me. During those innings, every once-in-awhile I would still think about how awful it would be for the Yankees to lose this game. I told a group of people behind me if the Yankees lose this game they (Red Sox fans) will be waiting for me at the Connecticut-Rhode Island line.

 

As Mariano Rivera walked off the mound after retiring the Sox in the top of the eleventh inning, I knew that would be his last inning.  Now it was imperative that the Yankees score.

 

From the eighth inning on, everyone in our section was standing most of the time. It was so tense, we couldn’t sit.  Before the bottom of the eleventh began and while Aaron Boone was taking his practice swings near the on deck circle, a friend of mine who sits two rows behind me called me over and screamed, “Louie, Boone’s going to be the hero. He’s going to win this game.”  I told him I agreed as we “high-fived” each other. Upon hearing our confidence in Boone another fan said, “You two guys have been saying how good he is since they (the Yankees) got him. You guys are crazy. If he ends the game, I’ll kiss your (expletive).

 

Once those now infamous words were spoken, we all turned our heads to watch Boone at the plate. Boone swung at the first pitch and like magic, the ball headed toward the left field seats. As the ball was in the air, I could hear the constant and increasingly loud roar of the crowd. My eyes were fixed on that ball as it was rising and rising, making its way to left field seats. I kept saying out loud, “Stay fair. Please stay fair.” As the ball landed safely fair in the left field seats, I leaped for unbridled joy. I didn’t see Boone run all around the bases because our section was delirious. The lower boxes of Section 21 became just a mob of joyous people hugging each other. It was incredible. So incredible, that even the security people joined the party.

 

As Frank Sinatra’s “ New York , New York ” rang throughout the Stadium, we continued to celebrate, pausing only to join Frank in signing some choruses of that classic song. My friend who called Boone’s shot, joined me in telling his friend, “We told you so”. His friend was more than happy to admit he was wrong.

 

I remained in the stadium celebrating for over a half an hour.  We all couldn’t get over what we had all witnessed.  Finally, it was time to leave. On my way out, a woman yelled to me, “Louie, see you tomorrow.” “Tomorrow?” I asked.  She pointed to the scoreboard clock and it was past 1 am . She explained today was Friday and the World Series starts Saturday. I laughed out loud because I totally forgot about the world series. I never left Yankee Stadium happier and the ride home was the most enjoyable I ever had.

 

 


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