Old Timer's Day has become something all too routine in recent years. The Yankees pretty much had the same roster to usher out each year, a few cheers, and on to the game. The excitement was pretty much gone. The new generation just couldn't connect with these players who came way before their time. Let's not forget that these players aren't always the stars, these aren't the Mickey Mantles, these are the guys who sometimes batted eight or ninth in the order. And in recent generations, who cares about Homer Bush? Fans aren't paying in some cases upwards of $200 a ticket to see a pinch runner.
This year was different. This year we finally had a cast that the most recent generation can relate with. Not a sprinkle, not one or two players. But this was a healthy dose. Doc, Strawberry, Cone, Lloyd, Nelson, Wells, Girardi, Fielder, Tino, and finally the Older Timer debuts of Mr. Torre and Bernie. That's eleven people of substantial importance on a first name basis with the fans. Yogi of course gets the loudest ovation each year. He's Yogi. But while listening to the cheers for Torre and Bernie, a flood of memories came rushing back. This is an era that I didn't have to learn about from the back of a baseball card, Yankeeography, or even Google. This was for my generation, our golden age of Yankee baseball.
Seeing Tino take Cone deep to drive in Bernie was magical. Traveling back in time became possible for just a few moments. It didn't count for anything. But in the minds and memories of many, it added to the luster. It gave younger fans something special to look forward to in the years to come. It gave Old Timer's Day meaning again. Mariano Rivera joked that he had wanted Michael Kay to announce him as well. He'll have his moment. Along with Jorge Posada, along with Andy Pettitte, and of course along with Derek Jeter. Maybe one day we'll have a chance to see the bulk of that 1996 team. That will be a truly magical day.
Twitter - @DMazzle