Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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It was fitting that Goose Gossage went into the Hall of Fame on the day I made my last trip to Yankee Stadium.
Gossage lives in Colorado Springs but has a cabin just outside of my hometown of Leadville. At an awards banquet when I was about 10, Gossage was the speaker. My dad - a native New Yorker - made sure we got to the banquet two hours early. We were the only ones there, until the Goose walked in. We sat and talked with him for more than an hour.
When I played high school baseball, Goose came out and threw batting practice one night. He certainly wasn't gassing it up like he used to, but it was an unforgettable experience.
I only bring it up because my latest trip to New York City involved a tour of Yankee Stadium. I attended a game in the Bronx five years ago and didn't quite appreciate the stadium.
It was absolutely amazing, no doubt, but at the time, it was tough to put in perspective. My trip two weeks ago, however, was an eye opener.
The Bronx itself isn't a bad area. There's a lot of culture, and it has been cleaned up immensely. The new stadium - being built right across the street from the existing stadium - should further help the economy and image of the Bronx. A park will be built where the current Yankee Stadium is, with fields for the development of youth sports. I was glad to hear they weren't just turning it into a parking lot.
Yankee Stadium is special. The tour takes you to the press box, Memorial Park, around the warning track, into the dugout and, finally, into the locker room. Our tour guide was an older gentleman who said his first year was Mickey Mantle's last. He had a wealth of knowledge and put into perspective a lot of the history.
But it didn't hit me until I was sitting in the middle of the dugout. My dad asked the tour guide about Gossage and the Hall of Fame. The guide said it was well deserved, long overdue and that it couldn't have happened to a better guy. My personal experiences with Gossage set in, and it dawned on me that I was sitting in the dugout where Billy Martin fought Reggie Jackson, where Don Mattingly sat and where Derek Jeter now rules.
In the craziness of New York City, it's the serenity of Yankee Stadium that makes it special.
It was an hour-long tour, but I could have stayed for days. As we took the subway back to Manhattan, it was tough to see the stadium disappear as the No. 4 train dipped underground.
We made it back to the hotel in time to catch Goose's induction speech.
I'm not a Yankees fan, but I can see why people are. Yankee Stadium is, and always will be, a special place.