When I was a kid I had to beg my Dad to take me to bat day at the original Yankee Stadium. I mean, down on the ground, promise to clean my room, mow the lawn, be nice to Mom kind of begging. These were the days when the South Bronx left a lot to be desired from a safety vantage point on a good day so arming the lot of us probably wasn’t the best idea in the world. My Dad, who grew up in Brooklyn a New York Giants fan, was always loathe to enter “the belly of the beast,” but I finally wore him down.
It is a forever indelible, “priceless” moment when during the game, famed great and late Yankee PA announcer Bob Shepherd, would invite the young fans to all wave their brand new bats in the air. It was a glorious sea of baseball bats. The ensuing pounding of the barrels against the concrete base of the Stadium is a sound etched in my mind’s ear: even at the most raucous of Yankee post-season games no sound can top that of twenty-thousand (give or take) baseball bats beating out a rhythm on the ground.
Raising a Yankee hand-sanitizer key chain (May 8th) in the air has absolutely none of that appeal to anyone outside of those suffering from OCD. The best sound that may make is when you drop it in the trash can. And how are you going to protect yourself on the D-train with the Yankee stopwatch that was given away on April 29th?
Now, I understand that Major League baseball is a business and the New York Yankees are one of the most profitable organizations in the history of sports. I know that promotions with other big businesses are partnerships that are designed to make both companies more money. But the Yankees are also very much about class and giving away garden gnomes, fragranced bracelets and luggage tags belie that valued team stature. That there is a Yankees Halloween Jack o’ Lantern Stencil day on the calendar this season really speaks but one thing to me: someone in the promotions department should get fired.
I don’t think it would have gotten this bad if George Steinbrenner was still alive and calling the shots. I can almost hear him barking, “The New York Yankees do not need to give away aprons to get fans into the park” before summarily dismissing the employee who thought that was a good idea. Giving away “Reggie” bars wasn’t the best idea ever back in the day, especially since the “flying saucer” shape literally made them the perfect chocolate bar to throw, but I would still take that over a packet of tomato seeds .
I don’t still have the bat, but I do still have a Yankee promotional bottle-opener on my key chain. And yes, there’s an ad for carpet on the back of it, but I can still also fit into my “Yankee Legends” t-shirt that was given out during one of Billy Martin’s managerial terms. It features the former Yankee skipper along with a Mount Rushmore of then-all-living Bomber greats Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra. Going to a Yankee game is a great experience and bringing back a special keepsake from the day can be the stuff from which fantastic memories are made. I just don’t see somebody, thirty years later, turning to their father to reminisce about the day they went to Yankee Stadium and came home with a waterproof beach wallet.
Curtis Granderson Yankee bat day is scheduled for Sunday, May 20th at the new Yankee Stadium.
It’s been a tough week in Yankee-land: if you’re looking for something to read for distraction, my first book came out a few weeks ago. For more information, please click here.