A Half-Century’s Preoccupation

Sunday, September 27, 1998 promised to be a hot summer day. Since Autumn had technically been with us for about five days, this was unusual enough, but the weatherman’s forecast of a day in the high 80’s had me looking forward to a few hours on the tennis courts. As I lazed over breakfast, an article caught my eye in “Sports of the Times.” Unbeknownst to me, the Yankees were capping their last day of the season with a special tribute to Joe DiMaggio. I had been feeling vaguely guilty all season for not having attended a single Yankee game in this, their winningest year. This clinched it. I decided to call Bill Glynn (a Yankee fan of long standing and deep devotion) and see if I could coax him into joining me at the Yankee game. All it took was a phone call. An hour or so later, we were on the subway heading up to the Stadium. This was my chance to say thank you to the wonderful Yankees of 1998 and to the man who epitomized the Yankees of yesteryear, way back when first I started rooting for the team.I can’t remember ever not being a Yankee fan. I suppose there must have been some sort of decision involved at some level. Back in my formative years, there were three major league teams from which to choose. For the most part, these broke up along borough lines. Living in Manhattan, the logical team was the New York Giants, a formidable franchise with a formidable name. This was the team of the legendary Christy Mathewson, Carl Hubbell and Mel Ott, managed for over thirty years by the scrappy and magnetic John McGraw. McGraw, by the way, chose to retire on the very day in which Lou Gehrig hit four consecutive home runs. After a career of playing second fiddle to Babe Ruth, not even four homers in a row could get Lou the headlines on the sports pages. No sooner did Ruth move on when the young Joe DiMaggio came along to steal Gehrig’s thunder. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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