The Sacred Room: Yankee Stadium

by Ed Ryterband

My first Yankee game dad is taking us
I’m full of quiverings and pictures
About Mantle, Berra, Ford and
Suddenly we turn a corner in the Bronx
The giant stadium is looming over us
Vendors hawking banners, hats and badges
I’m drooling over all the souvenirs.

Dad tugs me through a turnstile
Then we join the flow streaming through our gate
One of many in the endless curving wall of Yankee Stadium
A hundred voices rumble echoing inside a tunnel,
Up a ramp and then another ramp
My skinny legs aching with impatience
Up another flight of steps
At last out into the open space
The playing field, the neatest grass and careful dirt and endless seats,
More people than I ever saw.
I gape at them, float above myself

A roar jolts me to attention
The Yankees poring from the dugout
A stream of heroes,
Spreading confident to their appointed places
Hats on hearts they face the flag
The anthem squawks
The game begins at last
I stand and sit and stand again
The plays move slow,
I savor them like ice cream.
Another wish fulfilled a boiled hotdog
Strangers hands pass it on to me
Draped in yellow mustard
I sniff it close, steaming still
My first bite tangy on my lips and tongue.
Washed down with coke and ice cubes for my chewing
Dessert: fresh peanuts
Shells collecting, covering my feet
My breath gets raw and stinky
So dad tells me
I don’t care
What I remember
Mantle hits a homer that never seems to end
The roar is deafening and wonderful,
Carries me into the sky
I hope the game will never end
It does
I sleep the whole way home.

Published in Ballparks, Fans, Food, Free Verse, History, New York Yankees, The Game Itself, Youth | Link to this poem | 2 Comments

The Sacred Room: Yankee Stadium: 2 Comments

  1. Mark wrote,

    I love the feeling your poem evokes of that first visit to the hallowed ground of a major league ballpark. Mine was Tiger Stadium during the 1968 season – I think a game against the Indians pitched by Sam McDowell vs. Denny McLain. Nothing compares to the taste of a “redhot” from the traveling hotdog vendor! (with Pelican mustard!)

  2. James Finn Garner wrote,

    You got it, Smitty. Red Pelican Mustard and Hygrade’s Franks.

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