August 8, 1983: The First Yankees Lineup(s) I Ever Saw In Person

This post is a personal trip down memory lane and not stats based – I promise I will do one of those soon.

Happy Holidays, everyone!


I was a couple weeks shy of my 9th birthday when I finally attended my first Yankee game(s).

At the time, I was very frustrated with my father for waiting so long to take me to Yankee Stadium. I also remember thinking it was because I was a girl and that if his first born child were male, he’d have been to a few games by then.

My dad made up for it by taking me to a single admission doubleheader in August 1983. The Yankees were scheduled to play the Toronto Blue Jays and on top of being able to see two games in one day, my dad also invited Joe, the boy I had a crush on to go with us, along with two of my other male friends, Billy and John.

As a young girl, I led a double life, so to speak. I did girly things like play with Barbies and gossip about boys during lunch with my girlfriends but I also traded baseball cards and played kickball with the boys during recess.

We had passed the Stadium many times while taking trips into the city or out to Long Island to visit relatives so it wasn’t like I hadn’t seen it before. It always seemed so enormous to me and when I walked inside for the first time it was even bigger than I had imagined. 9-year-old Stacey was in total awe.

I soaked in as much as I could as we made our way to our seats. The grass seemed so much greener in person than it did on TV. And the blue outfield walls were more vibrant in person. The scoreboard was massive and home plate seemed so far away from our seats. I didn’t want to sit down, I wanted to explore.

Our seats were in the first row of the second to last section in left field at field level. In those days, the wall extended all the way back to the seats – there was no space for balls to fall into, no plexiglass, no fold up chairs – so if anything were to be hit our way, we’d catch it. Well, not me, as much as I loved sports as a little girl, I wasn’t allowed to participate because I had eye issues and my hand/eye coordination was pretty poor. That made playing the outfield in kickball during recess quite the adventure.

Anyway, without further adieu, here is the first New York Yankees lineup I saw in action:

Willie Randolph 2B 5 2 3 0 0 0 .279 .719 GDP
Graig Nettles 3B 5 1 1 0 0 2 .256 .799
Dave Winfield LF 5 3 3 2 0 1 .273 .844 2B
Oscar Gamble DH 4 1 2 3 0 0 .304 .952 HR,HBP
Butch Wynegar C 5 0 2 2 0 0 .309 .846
Steve Kemp RF 5 0 0 0 0 0 .258 .748
Don Mattingly 1B 4 0 2 0 0 1 .333 .857 2B
Jerry Mumphrey CF 2 1 0 0 2 0 .264 .736
Andre Robertson SS 3 0 0 0 0 0 .259 .626 SH
Team Totals 38 8 13 7 2 4 .342 .864
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/22/2012.

A few of the names are very recognizable to people now – Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Willie Randolph, and Graig Nettles – and others aren’t as recognizable, unless those people are diehard baseball fans like us.

Mattingly had only been up a little while at that point, Randolph and Nettles were mainstays from bygone Bronx Zoo era and Winfield was Winfield.

That lineup produced eight runs off of three Toronto pitchers: Starter Jim Clancy and relievers Jim Acker and Randy Moffitt.

The Yankees were fortunate in that first game. Their starter, Ron Guidry, pitched a complete game which is a luxury during a doubleheader.

I was a little disappointed that I didn’t see any home runs in that first game. It wasn’t that the Yankees didn’t hit any, we just made an ill-timed bathroom and food break – but luckily for me (and everyone else in attendance), the Yankees made up for it in Game Two.

(Edited: I left a whole sentence out about an ill-timed bathroom/food break in the third which caused us all to miss Oscar Gamble’s home run. At that point my dad probably was regretting bringing that many kids to a game with no one to help him out.)

Here’s the lineup for that game:

Willie Randolph 2B 4 1 1 0 1 0 .278 .717
Graig Nettles 3B 5 1 2 0 0 3 .258 .802 2B
   Larry Milbourne 3B 0 0 0 0 0 0 .217 .518
Dave Winfield LF 4 2 1 1 1 1 .273 .850 HR
Ken Griffey 1B 3 2 3 4 2 0 .339 .860 HR
Don Baylor DH 5 2 2 1 0 1 .299 .856 HR,SB
Don Mattingly RF 5 2 2 1 0 0 .336 .870 2·2B
Jerry Mumphrey CF 3 1 0 0 2 0 .261 .733
Rick Cerone C 5 0 2 1 0 0 .205 .548
Andre Robertson SS 3 0 0 1 0 2 .256 .619 SF
Team Totals 37 11 13 9 6 7 .351 1.107
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/22/2012.

You’ll notice a few changes. Namely, Ken Griffey, Don Baylor and Rick Cerone being inserted in place of Mattingly, Oscar Gamble and Butch Wynegar. And no, you’re not seeing things, Don Mattingly was moved into right field for the second game.

That lineup scored 11 runs off of Toronto pitching with Winfield, Griffey and Baylor all going deep – Griffey and Baylor went back-to-back in the bottom of the first. Griffey hit a grand slam to right and Baylor hit a solo shot to left and no, we didn’t catch it. It wasn’t that close to us.

So much for not seeing any home runs that day.

The most amusing thing about that whole day was that I thought the Yankees had won both of those games simply because I was there. What an inflated sense of self for a little girl of 9-years-old but there seemed to be some truth to it for a while.

I had a 10-game winning streak to open my game going experience. That streak ended during a game against the Red Sox in September 1984. I, unfortunately, had developed a fever around the fifth inning just as Boston was in the midst of scoring three runs to go ahead 4-1. (Maybe the run scoring made me ill?)

I remember I didn’t want to leave because even as a kid, I wanted to stay until the last out but it was impossible to do so, as I was growing weaker and weaker by the second.

We ended up listening to the Yankees lose the game during the car ride home – they lost 4-3 – and I, of course, blamed myself for the debacle. Children can be so silly.

If you remember your first game, look it up, take a gander at the lineup and talk about it in the comments. If you’re one of those people who attended a game when you were so little that you don’t actually remember it – I have a friend who claims to have been in her mom’s womb during Dave Righetti‘s no-hitter earlier that year – talk about the first game you remember attending.


August 8, 1983: The First Yankees Lineup(s) I Ever Saw In Person — 76 Comments

  1. Great post Stacey! I don’t remember my first game but I do remember being at this game, and seeing Cory Snyder put together a dominating performance.

    Snyder drove in all three Indian’s runs that day via a double and a home run. He also made a diving catch in the outfield and, on a separate play, threw Kirk Gibson out at home, leading to both Gibson and Sparky getting tossed from the game. At the time, Snyder was a rookie, a former #2 overall draft pick and we had high hopes for him. That game seemed to cement those hopes but things obviously didn’t quite work out for Mr. Snyder.

    Also, watching Niekro in person, and seeing just how slow his knuckleball was…just amazing.

    • Fun!

      My first game could have been a BravesMets contest down in Atlanta in 1977 but I was too young (not even 3 yet) to go. My dad took my two cousins instead. We were all on the way to Florida for a trip to Disney.

    • In 1987 I traded my Donruss Canseco rookie card for 10 Cory Snyder 1984 Topps Olympic cards.
      It was a calculated gamble.
      But the .434 on the back of that card was so seductive.

  2. Cool post Stacey,

    My first game was actually when I was on holiday. In Canada. I was a couple months shy of my 16th birthday, and took in the Expos-Dodgers game at “Parc Jarry” in Montreal (even smaller than you would think, in contrast to the “the Stadium”). The Expos got a walk-off 3-2 win in the 10th inning. I was sitting on the 1st base line and remember a young Gary Carter playing RF – he was just hustling all the time. Definitely a different time – there were 6 sacrifice bunts in the game; Dodger runs came on a 2-run HR by Bill Buckner, Expo runs on a groundout and two singles.

  3. Stacey:

    I remember the first Yankee game I saw in person, July 26, 1956, but the circumstances were far different. The Danville, IL YMCA ran a bus to Chicago full of kids between the ages of 9 and 16 or so, with a stop along the way at Brookfield Zoo before going on to Comiskey Park. This was the year of Mantle’s first monster season, the triple crown one, and we were all disappointed that he didn’t hit any HRs. Just went 3 for 3 with 2 BBs and 2 SBs. Billy Martin, Hank Bauer, Bill Skowron, and Yogi were in the lineup for the Yankees, along with lesser lights, and the White Sox featured Nelly Fox, Minnie Minoso, Larry Doby. and Luis Aparicio. The Yankees won 8-5, and the only HR was by the Sox back-up catcher Les Moss, subbing for Sherm Lollar.

    I’d like to reference the box score, but I can’t make any attachments work on this site.

  4. The memory of my first game is unfortunately far vaguer than yours Stacey (I was seven at the time) although I will do my best. It was the August of 1996 and I was pretty excited to be spending the summer holidays visiting my Dad in Kansas City. Being from across the pond my sport of choice was football (soccer), and we’d already been to see the Kansas City Wiz a few times in the nascent MLS, enjoying the quirks of the American take on the beautiful game and the febrile atmosphere in the stadium.

    It did seem appropriate to dip our toes into the native sport though, and so we set off to Kauffman Stadium to see the Royals take on the Detroit Tigers. Thus my first ballgame was not just my first live game, but my first exposure to baseball at all. I remember finding it strange having to drive for miles to get to the stadium, as opposed to it being a five minute walk from a tube stop. I remember thinking that “Royals” and “Tigers” were cool names. I also remember the leisurely pace and periods of inaction being slightly alien. Moreover, mid-90s baseball in Kansas City probably wasn’t the best introduction to the sport. Even so, the experience was undoubtedly a good one.

    Alas, that’s about as in-depth as I can get. I can still sort of see the view from my seat in my head, but having not really understood what was going on at the time meant that the specifics of the game didn’t really stick with me. I was far more excited a few years later, going to my first game at Pac Bell Park, as was, and falling in love with the picturesque view, the packed stadia and the home-sweet-home feeling of the freezing cold.

    If pushed, I would wager that this was said first game:

    • How cool.

      Yeah, for me the Stadium was far from home from the time I was 4 and we moved to the suburbs. Before then, we were less than two miles away, across the river in Manhattan.

      I should do a post on the first playoff game I ever attended which thanks to the George Steinbrenner of the 1980s and a cruel twist of fate in 1996, was not until 1997.

  5. I grew up in Central Florida as a diehard Red Sox fan. We moved south when I was 5 and I did not attend a game at Fenway until I was 13. Before that I had to be content with spring training

    My first Fenway experience came on September 6, 1980 against the Mariners. The lineup was (per retrosheet):

    P–Dick Drago

    My uncle got me seats in the front row behind home plate just to the left of the screen. It was one of the greatest times of my life. Pudge–my favorite–hit a home run as did Jim Rice.

    Now when I go to Fenway I always gaze longingly from my view high in the bleachers at those awesome awesome seats. I was so happy when the owners decided to keep and upgrade Fenway park. I sometimes get a headache from craning my neck to see home plate depending where I am sitting but I cannot imagine watching my team play anywhere else.

    I got out of Florida and back to New England the first chance I got. I go to as many games each season as I can afford.

    • Nice!

      When I was able to afford a ticket package in the old Stadium I got seats in the fifth row of the upper deck above the Yankee dugout and I always looked at those seats in left.

      I just wish I had gone out there one last time before they tore the old girl down.

  6. My first game was in Cincinnati in 1975. My Dad was driving me home to Ohio from seeing his parents in southern Kentucky and I was seven. It was the Big Red Machine vs. the Astros. We sat directly behind home plate, mid-level, and to my seven-year-old mind every pop-up looked like it was a home run and was a thousand feet high. I remember feeling disappointed every time what looked like a home run would land in an infielder’s glove for a pop-fly out.

    My only memories of the actual game were Bob Watson hitting a home run for the Astros and the Reds tying the game in the ninth. To my strong objection, we left sometime after the ninth and before the game ended. We listened on the radio to Joe Nuxhall and Marty Brennaman once we got to the car and the Reds won in 15 innings, 8-7.

    • Oops, I forgot to talk about the lineups. Apparently Sparky Anderson was giving Cesar Geronimo(CF) and Davey Concepcion (SS) the night off as a young George Foster started in center and Darrel Chaney started at short for the Reds. Both Geronimo and Concepcion would get pinch-hit AB’s later in the game, with Cesar doubling to ignite the ninth inning rally for the home team. Dan Driessen started in left and Fred Norman was on the hill for the Redlegs. As for the Astros, James Rodney Richard started for Houston but surprisingly only had 4 K’s in 6.2 IP.

  7. Thanks for the memories…literally. While this was not my first game, I was actually at these very same Yankee games vs. Tononto. I remember it because it was doubleheader. I’ve attended many, many games over the years, but very few single-admit doubleheaders, and since they don’t do those anymore, I don’t anticipate I’ll be adding to those type of memories! I was not nine. I was in college at the time, and sat in the main reserves along the third base line. (I have every ticket from every game I’ve attended in my life, so I just checked.)

    Those were good Yankee teams, although never quite the right blend of offense and starting pitching. This would be a trend for the Yankees in the 1980s, and one which would worsen, especially after turning Dave Righetti into a reliever the very next season. A mistake. The other sort of interesting note about this ’83 team is they basically had an all-LH’d starting pitcher rotation. Guidry, Righetti, Shane Rawley (probably was his best season), Bob Shirely, and the long-forgotten Ray Fontenot. They spent quite a bit of the year trying to find a RH’d starter, patching in guys like John Montefusco, Matt Keough, and eventually Doyle Alexander. I do remember the discussion at the time about how heavy LF’d they were with starters and if that was a bad thing.

    Last, I also had a great personal winning streak going when attending Yankee games in the mid-80s.. It approached 20 games(I can’t remember the exact number now). I thought it was amazing at the time, but I eventually figured out how I was stacking the odds in my favor, even if it was unintentional. I loved just walking up to the gate and buying a ticket. I hated fighting large crowds, so I would often end up going to games against weaker teams because they drew less fans. Those were the type of teams you’d expect the Yankees to beat up. It still was a statistical oddity that stretched over several seasons, but it makes a little more sense looking back today.

    • ..oh, and the main reserve tickets in 1983 cost all of $7.50. I also ran across a game one 1981 World Series ticket. Bleachers, $4.00. Or was if $5.00? Forgot already. Yup, times have changed much faster than inflation!

      • MikeD – I remember going to an NBA playoff basketball game for my 21st birthday. This was in 1990. There were three price levels of tickets available and we went with the mid-level. Cost…$10. Yep, times have definitely changed!

      • Mike and Ed:

        The trip and game I recalled at #5 above cost $8 per person total—i.e., the bus ride to and from Danville—about 140 miles each way—the zoo (free), and the game, good grandstand seats. Food wasn’t included. My parents gave my brother and me $2 each for the two meals and any souvenirs, and we had some pocket change of our own, I think. Sounds like a small sum now, but $20 out of our family’s weekly budget was no joke then.

        One last note: The next time I visited the Brookfield Zoo was with my future wife in 1969 a week exactly before our wedding. Admission was still free, although it cost $1 to park my beater. Parking is now $10 and admission is now $15 for adults, $10.50 for children under 12. God knows what a grandstand seat at U.S. Cellular costs these days.

        • N.B.: Anyone who wants to make a joke about the zoo-wedding juxtaposition above may do so if he or she got married before 1969 and still is to married to the same partner in crime. Others need not apply.

    • I had a 16 game winning streak in 87-88 – and those were not great teams.
      It started with the game against Boston/Clemens where the Yanx were down 9-0 after 2 innings,

      Every one of those games were in the RF bleachers, and I swear the rallies generated out there made a difference on the field. Felt good to be magic. And to be a complete jerk in unison with 200 other complete jerks:
      “Danny Heep of shit, clap clap. Danny Heep of shit, clap clap.”

  8. The first game I remember seeing was on Friday night June 11, 1948 when I was 9 years old. (I saw games in 1947 but don’t remember any of them.) It was at Yankee Stadium when the Yankees took on the Indians. I remember only two particular at bats in that game. My father and I had seats behind the plate on the first base side with a view looking directly down the left field foul line. Going into the bottom of the 9th the Tribe had a 10-6 lead. With two out and no one on came the first at bat that I remember. Joe DiMaggio hit a towering HR down the LF line bringing the Yankees within 3 runs. Then Gus Niarhos singled and Billy Johnson walked. Bob Feller was brought in to relieve Ed Klieman. George McQuinn hit an infield single to load the bases. Phil Rizzuto walked making the score 10-8. Then came the other at bat that I remember. Sherman Lollar was called on to pinch hit for P Red Embree. Lollar was right-handed but from looking at the box score it appeared that the Yankees had no LH batters remaining. With two strikes on him Lollar then swung and missed at a breaking ball low and away, not even coming close. That ended the game and I never forgave Lollar for striking out. I can still see it today. He later became a fine catcher for the White Sox. Attendance at the game was 67,924.
    Two days later marked Babe Ruth’s last appearance at the Stadium when his number 3 was retired.

    • Wow, that’s amazing.

      My dad went to his first Yankee game in 1948, he was 7 at the time. He also went to Giants games a lot as a kid because his Uncle Gus was a big Giants fan and he tried to get my dad to root for them. It didn’t work.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Yankee attendance was all over the map that year. That Indians game was at the tail-end of a 15-game homestand. The Browns had been in town before Cleveland and attracted crowds of 7 and 9 thousand, and also 56,000 for the Sunday double-header. The preceding Friday was also big (64,000 for Detroit), as was Tue, Jun 30 against Boston (70,000) but not the following July 4th against Washington (only 27,000), but big again for Wed, July 7th against Philly (62,000).

      • The Yankees played before crowds of 60,000+ that year 22 times, 18 at the Stadium and 4 at Cleveland. They had 6 crowds of 70,000+, 3 at the Stadium and 3 at Cleveland.
        The Indians played before crowds of 60,000+ 19 times, 14 at home and 5 at Yankee Stadium. They played before crowds of 70,000+ 11 times, all at home. Top attendance was 82,871.

        • 1948 Actually marked the culmination of a post war
          attendance boom.

          Total MLB attendance was 10.8 million in 1945.

          That grew to 18.5, 19.8 and 20.9 million in 1948.

          1948 was also the year that the Indians set the single
          season team record at 2.6 million.

          Total MLB attendance would not surpass 1948 totals
          until 1962 (expansion).

          Well known are the two factors that contributed mightily to this, the increase of games on TV
          and suburban flight.

    • Interesting thing about Sherm Lollar’s short time with New York. Started only 14 regular seasons games at catcher over two seasons, but still got two starts in the 1947 Series.

      The Yankees used 3 starting catchers in that series – Berra for games 1, 2 and 4, Lollar for 3 and 6, and Robinson for 5 and 7. Not to be outdone, Brooklyn used 6 different starting pitchers in that 7-game series.

  9. In my first game (at least my first regular season game – living down in Florida I had been to spring training games) I managed to see a complete game shutout by Steve Avery in 1992.

    Avery gave up five hits, and two of those were to Hershiser. Then Lasorda pinch hit for Hershiser, which I didn’t really understand because he had two hits (Benzinger did hit a double as the pinch hitter). Hershiser and Candelaria only gave up four hits, and one was by Avery, so of the nine hits on the day three were by pitchers. The pitching and the hits by the pitchers are the main memories I have from the game – apparently Deion Sanders hit a home run.

    My other two memories from that day are: (1) The upper deck seats in RF in Fulton County were way, way, way up there – you could barely see the right fielders without binoculars, never mind home plate. (2) There was some promotion for kids 14 and under – I, of course, having just turned 15 a few months prior, proudly stated to whoever it was who was handing out the promotional items that I was not 14, and so I screwed myself out of whatever promotional item was being given away (the person was handing it to me when I informed him/her I was not 14 and under).

    The only time I have been to Yankee Stadium was in 1996 – and the “real” game doesn’t stick in my memory nearly as much as the old-timer’s game that was played before the actual game. Reggie Jackson hit a HR in the old-timer’s game (and it was a real HR, over the RF wall) and Gossage was probably throwing 90+ (heck, he had been in the majors less than two years before that day) and almost decapitated Pepitone.

    • I’ve also been to Yankee Stadium just once. I remember the date (Aug 6, 1978) because Pope Paul VI died that day (it would also be my wedding day some years later, but not for any connection to Yankee Stadium). Two future HOFers were on the mound as Catfish Hunter shut out the Orioles and Jim Palmer by a 3-0 count.

    • I can top that — my first three MLB games were complete game shutouts, all at Wrigley.

      Valenzuela threw an 8-hitter against Fergie Jenkins: (30 May 1982)

      Later that season, Doug Bird 3-hit the Mets (I do not remember the triple play):
      (3 August 1982)

      The following year, I saw Johnny Bench’s last game in Chicago. I did not see the Reds get any hits in the game, but as I walked into the men’s room in the top of the 9th, I heard Lou Boudreau say “There goes the no-hitter” on the radio broadcast.
      (24 August 1983)
      Rainey was perfect through six, walked Milner in the 7th, walked Bench in the 8th followed by a fielder’s choice and double play, retired the leadoff man and the pinch-hitter for Mario Soto, and then I left for the rest room.

      The next game I saw was Yankees at Sox the next year. Mattingly homered to right for the Yankees — we were sitting upstairs in right field (fair territory). The Sox had acquired Roy Smalley in an attempt to duplicate their success after trading for Julio Cruz the previous season.
      (29 July 1984)

      I tried posting this with links to the boxscores, but the spam filter thought that was too many.

  10. Great post, Stacey! My first was a doubleheader also- Cubs at Giants, 9/12/1965. I recently looked it up and realized that all I remembered about the games was Warren Spahn getting his final major league victory, and Willie Mays hitting HR #499 (#500 came the next night in Houston). I loved Candlestick Park as a kid, and tolerated it as an adult, but I’ll still shed a few tears in a couple of years when the 49ers move out and it’s torn down. It may have been a dump, but it was MY dump!

  11. So I told my dad about this post. I said, “Dad, I wrote a piece about the first two Yankee games you took me to.” He replied, “When they won both games against Toronto? You spilled mustard on me that day.”


  12. My first game was, I say with a hair of embarrassment, actually a Mets game at Shea.
    I think my Dad just took the easier drive from where we lived in Queens at the time.

    I’m almost certain this was 1981.

    About a year ago I hunted for the boxscore at b-r.
    Easy enough, as I remember clearly that the Mets beat the Pirates 3-2 on a Joel Youngblood three run homer in the 7th inning.

    However, research indicates that Joel Youngblood never hit a three run shot vs the Pirates.

    So so much for that memory.

  13. The majority of the stadiums that I’ve gone to no longer exist, including:
    Yankee Stadium

    The Kingdome game was special.
    Randy Johnson 2-hitter with 15 K

    I had just spent a week naked at Harbin Hot Springs, where I got a raging case of poison oak, like, everywhere.
    Northern California poison oak is very much a sentient being, and besides the crawling rash it will merge with your consciousness and you will begin thinking like a plant.

    Well, the plant consciousness told me to shave my head.
    Never done that before.
    Went down to skin, with a razor and shaving cream.

    Then hopped on a Green Tortoise bus to Seattle.
    Got off the bus, picked up a paper, and saw that it was:

    Jay Buhner Buzzcut Night

    This meant that the first 5000 fans who showed up to the Kingdome completely bald got in for free!

    (this was exceptionally funny to me, as just a few months earlier I had had very long dreadlocks)

    I went immediately to the dome, and there were baldos everywhere.
    I had found my people.

    And all of us were seated together in the centerfield upper deck.
    From a naked hot spring hippie to a skinhead jock in 48 hours.

    Here’s the boxscore:
    (it was a 5-hitter. So much for that memory)

    • I’m with you, Voomo.

      Most of the stadiums I’ve been to don’t exist or don’t have baseball anymore. Let’s see.

      Jack Murphy
      Metropolitan (Minnesota)
      Old Comiskey
      Municipal (Cleveland)
      Three Rivers
      Fulton County
      Exhibition (Toronto)

      I think that’s it.

      The other list of stadiums I’ve been to where they’re still playing ball. Much shorter.


      Time for another road trip.

      • Yankee Stadium II
        Shea Stadium I
        Atlanta Fulton Co.
        County Stadium, Milwaukee
        Old Tiger Stadium
        Old Comiskey
        Three Rivers
        New STL (06 WS)
        Joe Robbie

  14. I’m afraid that most of the details of my first game are pretty fuzzy.

    My next door neighbor made the 8 hour drive (in those days) from our home to Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis with his son and my 6 year old self during the Twins inaugural 1961 season to watch them play the Yankees. I have a few pictures in my mind of walking up to the stadium (by FAR the largest structure that I had ever laid eyes on), of the crowd (again- by FAR the largest gathering of people that I had seen in person), of the players taking infield (we must have got there early and it must have been a weekend day game) and of individual batters- but for some reason only Yankee batters. I can picture Mantle and Kubek and Roger Maris (who, even tho he considered North Dakota his home, I wasn’t a fan of) and Elston Howard. If my assumption that this must have been a weekend (and most likely on a Sunday) then the game almost certainly would have been this one:

    but to be honest I have no idea who even won the game I saw. I suppose by that time my discovery that the ballpark was also a kids paradise of rare and exotic treats like pop and cotton candy and people walking around with big silver boxes filled with hot dogs would have pretty much dulled my senses. I still have an Yankee autographed baseball (that we much have picked up at the gift shop because I KNOW we didn’t get them from the players) from that day sitting on the shelf behind me.

    Sadly, that was the only Major League game I would see until the 1980’s rolled around.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful story Stacey and bringing back some warm (if fuzzy) memories.

  15. The grass is always greener at the ballpark. That was the first thing I noticed on June 5, 1965 at Busch (formerly Sportsman’s Park) Stadium in St. Louis. First player I remember seeing was Bob Purkey, only because the name was on his back. The colors were especially bright that day, probably because our television was a mid-1950s black-and-white Philco. 19-year-old Larry Dierker started against 80-year-old Curt Simmons. Without going to the BR boxscore(I still have that day’s scorecard, by the way), I remember Phil Gagliano hitting a home run, and Ken Boyer hitting a triple. 4-3, Cardinals. What a great old ballpark. Plenty of parking available (mostly in neighbor’s yards).

  16. My first game was April 24, 1976.

    It was game #7 at Yankee Stadium II and the Cub Scouts
    from White Plains, of which I was one, came to the game.

    The Yankees beat the Royals 9-8 in 11 innings on a beautiful
    spring Saturday in the Bronx. The first pitch was thrown at
    2:03. The game was played in a modern like 3:53.

    Sparky Lyle picked up his second win of the season. He pitched
    the last FIVE innings.

    The teams combined for 17 runs and 28 hits. No homers.

    The Yankees The Royals

    Mickey Rivers Jim Wohlford
    Roy White Amos Otis
    Thurman Munson George Brett
    Chris Chambliss John Mayberry
    Oscar Gamble Hal McRae
    Lou Piniella Al Cowens
    Graig Nettles Fran Healy
    Willie Randolph Freddie Patek
    Jim Mason Frank White
    Ed Figueroa Steve Busby

    It’s a good looking lineup. Players appearing in this
    game would go on to be named to 60 All-Star games.

    They Royals won this battle 33-27 thanks mainly to
    future Hall of Famer George Brett’s 13.

    • The Yankees handicapped themselves in the battle of All Stars by having Jim Mason in the lineup that day. I still believe Jim Mason was one of the most hated Yankees of that time. He seemingly was booed before he could get his head out of the dugout.

      • Otto Velez pinch hit for Mason in the home half of the 8th.

        The immortal Fred “Chicken” Stanley came in to play SS
        in the 9th.

        If I recall properly, Billy Martin, who was loyal to his
        players, loved the chicken. Hated Reggie. Loved the chicken.

        Maybe this is one reason that Billy, for all his great
        managing, only won one World Series.

        • I think 6 division titles in parts of 16 years with four different franchises is pretty great.

          Won 97 in his rookie (managing) year, and ran into the ’69 Orioles in the ALCS
          Won the division three years later with the Tigers and ran in to the ’72 Athletics.

          Won the pennant in ’76 and ran into the Red Machine.
          Won it all in ’77
          And was fired in ’78, while in 1st place.

          • Voomo: In 1978 Martin was fired on July 23 when the Yankees were in 4th place, 10 GB the Red Sox. They didn’t make it to first place until September 10th at the conclusion of the Boston Massacre, a 4-game sweep at Fenway.

          • I agree. I said only “won one WS”.

            I think Billy was a great manager. If
            he could have coexisted with George I
            think Billy could have had a Hall of Fame
            caliber managerial career.

            Imagine if Billy had managed for 15 seasons
            from when he took over in 1975.

            I can make a strong case that in addition
            to 77, he wins in 78, 80 and 81.

            Additionally, I think the Yankees are strong
            World Series contenders in 83,85 and 86.

            I never meant to bring Billy’s managerial genius into question.

            I merely pointed out that Billy could and should have won many World Series.

            It is a fact that in the glory of 1977 he
            admitted that he wanted to beat Casey’s record.

          • On July 17, 1978 the Yankee lost to the KC Royal by a score of 9-7.

            They were in fourth place in the AL East at
            47-42. 14GB behind the Bosox.

            This is the game where Reggie Jackson defied
            Billy Martin and attempted a bunt with two strikes in the bottom of the tenth inning.

            Thurman Munson had opened the inning with a
            single. Jackson came up having not successfully sacrificed since 1972 I think.

            With two strike Billy pulled the bunt, but Reggie bunted anyway and popped it to the catcher.

            After the game a furious Bill flew into a rage.
            Reggie, who probably deserved much worse was suspended for five days.

            The disruptive Reggie now gone from the clubhouse, the Yankees won five straight to move to 52-42 on July 23, and only 10GB as Richard already pointed out.

            The historic comeback began under Billy.

            Sadly for reasons ranging from alcoholism to
            Reggie, Billy couldn’t complete a career altering season.

          • One final thought on 1978.

            It is common for folks to say that Boston choked.

            As someone who proudly hates, but respects, the Red Sox, let me remind everyone that they won their last eight games straight to force the famous game. That is not a choke!

            The Yankees were injured early and fell far behind. The Red Sox were injured after the All-Star game and the Yankees caught up.

            At the end, both were mostly healthy and clearly the two best teams in baseball that year.

          • @54, 55

            I was five years old – don’t have a memory of it – and yes, I did a very quick b-r query for that info.

          • Continuing from my post #55 I hope you all don’t mind this diversion. As long as we are on the subject of corrections let me point out something I came across yesterday. I saw the movie “Jack Reacher” with Tom Cruise in the title role. In the course of the movie Cruise intentionally mis-identified himself as Jimmie Reese. It was mentioned that it (Reese) was the name of a Yankee 2nd baseman in 1925. Being the good Yankee fan that I am I knew immediately that that was a lot of hooey. Reese played for the Yankees in 1930 and 1931 and for the Cards in 1932. He was a roommate of Babe Ruth back then (only Reese liked to say he roomed with Ruth’s suitcase). He was also the first Jewish player on the Yankees (like the Cruise character in the movie his real name also was not “Jimmie Reese”, it was Hymie Soloman).
            He was a coach for the Angels from 1972 until his death in 1994 at the age of 93. He is believed to have been the oldest person to wear a baseball uniform in an official position.

          • Billy was no doubt a great manager, one who falls into that small bucket of in-game managers who made his teams better. He was the 10th man on the field. Unfortunately, Billy also was his own worst enemy, which is why he was never able to build a HOF career managing, even though it was right there for his taking. For all that he brought, I can’t get past all he did wrong, including his constant battles with his boss, The Boss, George, and even more so his handling of Reggie. Even as a kid, I remember thinking he had to be the authority figure, the “Dad.” Instead, he was throwing gasoline on the fire, and I’m guessing many of those low points were because of his alcoholism.

            Tomorrow it will be twenty-three years since he drove his car into a ditch and died, with rumors being he was at a bar plotting his comeback yet again as Yankee manager. I’m sure it would have come to pass. The unknown Stump Merrill took over for the Yankees in June 1990. That probably would have been Billy again, that is if he wasn’t installed from the start of that season. Those would not have been good teams for Billy to manage.

          • If anyone doubts that Martin was a great manager, take a look at how his teams did the year before and the year after. It’s pretty amazing. And he did it in a time when free agency didn’t exist/was much smaller than today.

          • @59 Jason and @63 Ed — Jason, first. I agree. It’s one of the reasons I always recoil a bit from the word “choke.” It’s a very emotional word that is mostly used as an inslut. Most teams at this level don’t choke, but they can collapse driven by circumstances, including and usually injury or early over performance and the water eventually seeking it’s level. The Red Sox and Yankees played to game 163. Yankees were injured at the start. The Red Sox were injured later. It’s not as if that Red Sox team was going to go on to win 120 games if they hadn’t collapsed.

            And, Ed, I don’t think anyone questions Martin’s abilities as a manager. He’s an interesting case because he was so good, yet what made him good and what made him bad lived on two sides of the fault line that in time almost always led to a devestating quake.

            One of my favorite “what if” scenarios involved Martin. I do believe he would have come back in 1990 and been fired within a couple years because those teams were so bad. He would have managed the Stump Merrill teams and the Buck Showalter era would have started as it did…and ended as it did after 1995. The Yankees hired Joe Torre because they were having difficulty finding a manager to work with George again. I always wondered if there would have been one final Billy Martin episode. The Yankees and George would have turned to Billy again for the start of 1996 and what we know was a dynasty run. A more hands-off George, a slightly more mellow Billy brought on by age (he would have been 68), and a dynasty team filled with professionals like Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte, etc. Billy might have finally gotten what he wanted. His own Casey Stengel run, and his path to the HOF.

            Unlikely, but not impossible, and fun to thank about on the eve of the anniversary of his death.

          • Mike D, interesting your thoughts on Billy. We seem to think alike.

            I don’t think George would have brought Billy back in 96.

            My reason is solely based on the fact that after returning from suspension in 93, we Yankee fans were blessed with what seemed to be a kinder gentler George.

            Much more relevant however was that it seemed to me that he began to trust his baseball people more than in the past. The stability under Joe Torre was something Yankee fans never
            expected under George. Also, the reliance on
            young players developed in the farm system, and
            not the big free agent signee was a welcome and
            massively productive change from previous years.

            I also wonder if these players you cited and I just referred to, would have developed the same under Billy.

            I don’t recall him being particularly fond of or reliant on young players.

            It is likely however that the core four would have seduced Billy with their talent.

            With the extra rounds of playoffs today, it is doubtful we will see the likes of 96-03 again.

            The extra playoff rounds that these Yankee teams had to navigate, make this dynasty the most impressive in baseball history.


  17. I remember the first game I ever went to. It too was at Yankee Stadium, and I was about 5 or 6 years old, and I was taken there by my father. What do I remember about the game? Not much, except that I did see #5 Joe DiMaggio on deck….does that suggest I’m a bit older than most of those on this blog?

  18. Stacy dear, in your story of your illness and the losing game, you got the arrow of causation reversed. Your illness did make the Yankees lose, instead their loss made you ill, sensitive girl that you were.

    Quiz: What do the following cities have in common? DC, LA, Miami, Minn-SP, Montreal, SD, SF. (I think this list is complete, but not 100% sure.) This list includes the first MLB game(s) I went to, likely before Stacy’s parents had even met.

    • 3 are franchise relocations- 4 are expansion teams- 2 are both- 5 are national league- 1 is american league- 2 and soon to be 3 are both…

      Not seeing what it is

      I suspect they’re all teams that a specific player played for, maybe?

  19. First games..doubleheader at the Stadium July 30, 1967

    I was ten, my little brother nine. We drove down from CT. My parents didn’t tell us where we were going until right after we passed the Stadium on the Deegan, at that point the secret was out of the bag.

    It was also Bat Day.

    We got a little 24 inch bat..a Jake Gibbs model.

  20. Ok, I’ll put up my then eight year old son’s first game. July 16, 2000 against the Phillies.

    We went with a friend. Pettitte started and had nothing. He was pulled in the third after giving up five runs on nine hits and two walks. He was relived by Gooden, who was very solid for 5/13, giving up just one more run. Yankees were down 6-1 going into the bottom of the ninth, and the three of us started to move back. We end up in a group of Phillies fans, and since my son is still at the cute age, and they are in a good mood, they tell us to hang with them until the end. Phillies bring in Scott Schrenk, a 31 year old career minor leaguer.

    Robbie Thompson reaches on an error, Brosius singles, and Knoblauch walks to load the bases. My new Phillies buddies start looking at each other. Schrenk had apparently pitched the day before and given up three runs in 2/3 of an inning. Schrenk then walks Jeter to bring in a run, and is replaced by Bryan Ward, who gives up a sac fly to O’Neill (5-3). Bernie dribbles one through the right side, Justice walks, and Tino singles in Jeter, and suddenly it’s 6-5, and our Phillies friends are alternately screaming (not curses, in deference to my son) and turning green. Ward strikes out Posada (getting a lot of yeaaahhhs). Finally, Brantley comes in to close it out, but Jose Vizcaino (Jose Viscano?) singles to tie it. Brantley finally gets Brosius with the bases loaded to end the 9th, and the Phillies fans are slumped in their seats, emotionally exhausted.
    In the tenth, Mariano gives up a two run homer to Bryan Hunter (what?) and my Phillie’s seat mates are on the moon.
    Bottom of the tenth, Brantley stays in to close it out. Walk to Knoblauch, Jeter HPB, and the Phillies fans start to moan. O’Neill ropes one to center, Knoblauch scores and it’s 8-7, and the crowd is going nuts. Everyone is standing, except for the Phillies fans, who alternately get up and down, covering their faces. Bernie gets one past Relaford at short, Jeter charges home, and it’s 8-8. Justice smacks one to left, O’Neill scores, and the entire Stadium explodes. My poor new Phillies friends aren’t even mad, “typical Phillies”. The Phillies were on there way to a 65-97 year, there seventh consecutive losing season.

    A few fun facts. Tito Francona was the manager who brought in and left in Schreck. Schrenk’s last pitch to Jeter was his last in the majors. He pitched 16 years in the Minors. Desi Relaford was traded for a player to be named later (he had negative dWar that year). Brantley, the “closer” had an ERA+ of 80 for the year. Bryan Ward pitches one more time for the Phillies and is then released. Apparently he was upset when he was sent down to the minors to make room for players obtained when the Phillies traded Schilling to Arizona.

    And finally, as we are leaving the Stadium, my son asks me “are all games like that?”

    He’s in college now and knows better.

  21. I was unlucky again to have missed a great post when it was timely to contribute a response – a great idea, Stavey – but I was very lucky in my first game, so I’ll see whether I can add a link to it here:

    I’ve written about it before on HHS, so I’ll try to be less windy in recounting it: It was at Ebbets Field, the Pirates visiting, the last day of the season, and the pennant on the line for Brooklyn. The highlights that I recall were seeing Jackie Robinson at the start of the game (who knew then that it would be his last regular season game?), the Duke’s second home run, which set a Dodger regular season record that lasted out the century (my older brother, in transports of delight, clarified for me its meaning as it sailed over the fence and Bedford Avenue – which we could see from our seats high in right field. Most of all, I remember something that I have never found verified in any account as having actually happened, but that made an enormous impression.

    At some point late in the game, a Pirate player hit a line drive to right that Furillo dove and caught. But the umpire ruled it a trap, and the crowd erupted, waving white handkerchiefs en masse while raining boos onto the field (today, they’d rain booze). Of course, I was furious too. Play had to be stopped, because the crowd would not be silenced, and the white handkerchiefs made it impossible to resume play.

    The players came in from the field, and at some point, Furillo walked to the center of the stadium with two other players (one was Reese) and pantomimed trapping the ball. My mother explained later that the umpires had probably threatened a forfeit.)

    If this is not a false memory, I suppose it was Groat’s single to right in the eighth that I recall.

    In any event, the Dodgers held off a late Pirate rally, won the game, and won the pennant. What I left with was a belief that the Dodgers were a virutous team that told the truth while winning, and that Carl Furillo was a prince among men. As a grown up, I’ve read enough about Furillo to know that there was a lot more to that story, but I still have his ’57 Topps card framed on my desk, showing him standing in Ebbets Field in a photo that would have been taken, I suppose, shortly before or the spring after that game. I never saw another Brooklyn Dodger game.

    • Robinson homered in his final game, joining the Splinter and others. Too bad that isn’t a query that can be run with P-I.

      Exactly 10 years later, on Sep 30, 1966, second baseman Junior Gilliam would play his final game.

  22. I remember my first game. It was at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. A game that featured the hometown Astros playing the St. Louis Cardinals. Three things stand out in my memory of the game. One, the sheer size of the dome on the inside. It seemed HUGE. Two, the air conditioning was real nice, a welcome break from the southeast Texas summer heat. And, most of all, the game was won by a José Cruz walk-off home run to win the game for Houston. My mother, to this day, remembers this because she had to take my sister to the bathroom and she missed it. This was the game that got me started on my lifetime love of baseball. A great day it was, to be sure.


    I arrived in the Bronx on September 26th, 1998, as the result of a happy accident. My father laid out plans sometime in July or August for the three of us – my father, mother, and me – to take a bus from Wilkes-Barre to Yankee Stadium, which is about a three-hour drive with stops and traffic. I was probably supposed to go to this game, or perhaps an August 15th game against the Rangers. Everything was going as planned until my mother, from whom I inherited my propensity for forgetfulness, missed the deadline to purchase the bus tickets. For a boy of nine who knew he had been watching history in the making, this was tantamount to the end of the world. The heartbreak soon subsided when my parents discovered there were still bus tickets available for the September 26th tilt against Tampa Bay, where I would ultimately witness history in person.

    I remember being, understandably, very excited about the game; I made sure everyone I knew was aware that I was going to The House That Ruth Built to see this game. I was also a little bit concerned about the fact that the Yankees were coming down to Earth; my dad assuaged my fears by claiming that they were just “suffering from the flu.” After counting down the days for what seemed like forever, September 26th finally arrived.

    It’s hard to describe what it was like for me to arrive in New York. I don’t think I can truly say I was overwhelmed. I had never seen a city nearly that size before, and the world in general just seemed really huge to me, so I think I just took in the city at face value because I was too young and naive to even understand how big it was. The walk from the parking lot to Yankee Stadium felt like a mile, and in retrospect it probably was, but that also seemed much bigger to me then. I don’t remember being particularly surprised by how big the Stadium was, but I do remember getting the feeling that it was old and I felt surrounded by its legendary character.

    I actually don’t remember much of the game itself; I think I was simply awestruck by being with 40,000 other people, watching one of the greatest franchises in professional sports, in one of the most historic venues in professional sports. I barely remember Tino Martinez hitting a home run in the bottom of the 4th, but I far more vividly remember being disappointed when Shane Spencer struck out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th, which caused me to completely forget about his solo shot to lead off the home 3rd. Finally, I remember Mariano Rivera saving the game in a somewhat scary fashion – in fact, the boxscore shows the situation was even more precarious than I thought; I suppose my confidence in Mo was pretty unshakable back then. Most importantly, however, it was the day David Cone won his 20th game of the season, which was almost an afterthought to me due to the Yankees winning 94 games in addition to Cone’s 20. I have seen some games since that were more dramatic, but no experience truly compares to that first game.

  24. Richard @61 — The fault in the “Reacher” Reese reference belongs to the Hollywood adaptation, not to author Lee Child. From “One Shot,” the 9th Reacher novel:

    “Reacher checked into a downtown hotel called the Metropole Palace…. He paid cash up front for one night only and used the name Jimmy Reese. He had cycled through all the presidents and vice presidents long ago and was now using second basemen from the Yankees’ non championship years. Jimmy Reese had played pretty well during part of 1930 and pretty badly during part of 1931. He had come from nowhere and moved on to St Louis for part of 1932. Then he had quit. He had died in California, aged 93. But now he was back, with a single room and a bath in the Metropole Palace, for one night only, due to check out the next morning before eleven o’clock.”

    OK, he misspelled Jimmie and was a year off in the age, as Reese died 3 weeks shy of 93. But the baseball’s right. :)

    (And as for casting shrimp Tom Cruise as a character whose very personality begins with his bulk … don’t get me started!)

  25. I don’t remember my first game, though it was almost certainly an Expos game at Stade Olympique, probably in 1987. I used to keep score for the six or seven innings we watched after inevitably showing up late after the 2 1/2-hour drive from upstate New York. No idea where those scorebooks ended up.

    I do remember the first game I didn’t watch- a rainout at Dodger Stadium in 1988. Here’s an accounting of the many rainouts, player strikes, and ill-timed business trips that have kept me from watching games at various parks.

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