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Endings of The Season | blog.deanland.com

Endings of The Season

Endings of The Season

It being a time of religious holiday observation, Susan and I celebrated a specific religious ritual at the Shrine of our choice.

Even just looking at the logo is a wonderful thing!Today we attended the final home game, and the final game of the season at Yankee Stadium. It was a day of many special and notable occasions, a winning day, with some melancholy and sentimentality to boot.

Over the years we have come to know some of the behind-the-scenes people at Yankee Stadium. My knee problem makes it virtually impossible to walk down the ramps to exit the stadium when the games are over. For security or other reasons (?) the escalators are not in operation when it is time to exit the games.

If you have eagle-eye vision, you will be able to read this miniaturized Yankee Stadium seating chart.  We spent most of this past season in Section 15, in a Loge box.  Very nice, indeed!On days when my knee is achy, or the crowds make it a little more difficult to negotiate our way up the escalators, the stadium security staff lets me take the special elevator up to our seats. We share a partial-season ticket plan with friends, so we are regulars, and we also go to a number of games in addition to the ones on the plan. We are regulars, and over the years one gets to know the people one sees time and again at the stadium.

The elevator we take to and from our ticket-plan seats goes from an area on the ground floor that is off-limits to the fans. This is due to its proximity to a special suite, where the Playersí Wives congregate during Game Days. A Stadium Security Person stands outside the entry, guiding people who get off the elevator (press people, stadium staffers, handicapped and special-needs people, et al) to ìmake a left and a leftî out to the walkway. If not, theyíd be walking a special access to Field Level, or a ramp to the dugout or Clubhouse area, or some offices and security outposts thereabouts.

The woman guarding this area and instructing people where to go, for as long as we can recall, is Geraldine. And we have come to adore her!

Geraldine is enjoying her last season working at Yankee Stadium, before retirement.  We are going to miss her, she is one of our favorite people at the Stadium.

Geraldine has a great collection of all the pins that the Yankees have given out over the years. For many years she wore them on her uniform. It was quite impressive! Geraldine takes her job very seriously, supervising the elevator operators and standing guard so the Playersí Wives can enjoy some peace and privacy.

There are those who found her standoffish, sentry-like manner somewhat imposing, She has always taken the security aspect seriously, and was all business in ushering people to the door and maintaining some distance between the ground she covered and the fans and others who came by.

Somehow or another we got to know her, and always would greet her coming or going on the elevator. I think it began with our regular greetings, and then once a compliment to her on the pins.

On certain occasions sheíd be busy as could be! One time there was Roger Clemens in the elevator foyer area, tending to his mother in her wheelchair with her breathing apparatus. Another time we saw Mariano Rivera there, holding his infant, waiting for the elevator, apparently to take his wife and their newborn baby down to the clubhouse. One time last year we rode the elevator with Raul Mondesiís girlfriend and entourage, and Geraldine deftly shepherded them into the Playersí Wives area while guiding the others out to the walkway.

All the while, always, there was Geraldine, maintaining a secure DMZ sort of line between the entrance to the Players' Wives area and the door to the walkway.

We learned (from one of the elevator operators, I think) that this would be her last year. Today was Geraldineís final regular season game.

Through the year sheíd commented to us that this year above all others, she wanted the team to go all the way. Make it to the Playoffs, both rounds, and then to the World Series. She wants to go out with a flourish, go out in style.

Geraldine is part of the Stadium Family, and has been a part of our Stadium experience for a long time. We share her hopes for going out with style, first class all the way. We are going to miss her.

Tickling The Stadium Ivories

For the past 37 years one of the Stadium stalwarts has been Eddie Layton. New Yorkers know him as the answer to a famous trivia question/brain teaser:

Q: What New Yorker has played for the Yanks, The Rangers, and The Knicks?

A: Eddie Layton, Stadium Organist

For 37 years it has been Eddie Layton at the Wurlitzer Organ in Yankee Stadium.  He's retiring this year, and the new organist will have some mighty shoes to fill.</p />
</p><p>And also to use on the bass pedals.Before each game you could count on getting comfortable in your seats, listening to Eddie Layton playing the Stadium Wurlitzer. There's something both old-timey-folksy and at the same time sort of reassuring about hearing Eddie Layton play the Stadium organ. He is part of a small, hallowed crew, along with Gladys Gooding (formerly of Ebbetts Field and a few years at The Polo Grounds and Shea). Some people tell that brain teaser joke using the Brooklyn Dodgers, The Knicks, and The Rangers . . . Gladys Gooding becomes the answer in that variation.

Sunday was Eddie Layton's final regular season game. He will be retiring after the post-season, ending a career that to many symbolized what seemed like a living soundtrack to the game.

Eddie Layton is so well respected, so significant a Baseball figure, that even the newspaper covering the arch rival Boston Red Sox, the Boston Globe, carried a story about his retirement.

...nicely dressed for the bash they threw for him after the game!Earlier this month The Newark Star-Ledger ran an interview with him, just after his retirement was announced. The Yankees' website also ran a nice item about him.

A while back the Village Voice did a story on the Big 3 Stadium Stalwarts, all non-players: Announcer Bob Sheperd, famed opera singer and Opening Day (et al) National Anthem singer Robert Merrill, and, of course, Stadium Organist Eddie Layton.

His work has been used in countless baseball movies. And he was the organist on broadcast soap operas back in the days when the organ player provided those "dum-de-dum-dum" codas as a response to scary, schocking, chilling, or frightening events. The players often express the same sense of "knowing you're really a Yankee" when they would hear Bob Sheperd say their name, or hear Eddie Layton play the "Charge!" fanfare when they were on base.

We will miss Eddie Layton. Who knows? Perhaps Eddie Layton and Geraldine might come back for special occasions at The Stadium. Surely Eddie Layton could play the organ again at a future Old Timers' Day!!

Boomer Gets His 200th Win

David Wells made some more history this afternoon. He may not be perfect, or a great author. Sure, he is a surly and burly, beer-drinking, hard-living, heavy-metal loving sort of guy.

But he has been perfect, as in pitching a http://www.baseball-almanac.com/pitching/piperf.shtml ">Perfect Game. The Perfect Game Club is a rather exclusive one; Wells is one of three Yankees in that rarified group. No other ballclub can boast of three pitchers having thrown them. And in the case of the Yankees, all three were thrown at The Shrine, the Home Office of Baseball, The House That Ruth Built, Yankee Stadium.

Don Larsen did it in the World Series, against the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 8, 1956. David Wells did it on May 17th, 1998, against the Minnesota Twins (maybe he can repeat that in the coming Divisional Series!). And most recently, David Cone did it on July 18, 1999 against the Montreal Expos.

September 28, 2003.  Boomer doffs his cap, and waves to the fans who gave him a standing ovation as he left the field on the way to his 200th win.  Boomer was perfect back in 1998, and now in the year 2003 he has become the 99th member of the 200 career Wins Pitcher Club.  Boomer has earned a permanent place in the hearts of Yankee fans.This afternoon The Boomer joined yet another group of note, although not quite as exclusive as the Perfect Game throwers. Today he got his 200th win. Not as rarified a group, but an accomplishment of some note. And this is a guy many thought was washed up, ready to be put out to pasture ñwhat with the bad back, the drooping gut, the lifestyleójust two years ago. He remains the classic "big game" pitcher. He got that Sunday afternoon win against the Red Sox to preserve the Yank's lead over them when things were getting tight in the AL East race. Boomer always seems to come through when the stakes are at their highest. And now, as the Post-season begins, the stakes are high in each and every game. Its Boomer time!

Boomer is the 99th member of the 200 Wins club. His Yankee teammate Mike Mussina will join the club with his first win in the 2004 season. The Yankee milestones just keep on coming.

Henson Gains 30 Yards

Future Football player Drew Henson hit a single in todayís game. This represents his first major league base hit. And possibly his last. Henson is a weak fielder, and certainly not capable of handling the hot corner for the Yankees. His bat is nothing to speak of, and his minor league career to date is of no great consequence.

The Yanks signed him to an enormous bonus contract, making him one of the highest paid bonus babies and minor leaguers of all time. Sadly, he is not living up to what the scouts (and Steinbrenner, who pursued him like Monica pursued Bill) thought his potential.

Meanwhile, as he collects millions from the Yanks to be a mediocre prospect, Pro Football teams keep their eye on him. Henson was a major College Football star, and could sign an NFL contract tomorrow if he so chose Given the likelihood of him having at least two more years in the Minors, and the greener pastures and quick money he could make in the NFL, it seems a pretty sure thing that Henson will be running for yards across the Gridiron soon enough, and not around the Diamond.