Last innings for Yankee Stadium
'The House That Ruth Built,' closing at the end of the season, hosts the All-Star Game on Tuesday.
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This is the last season for the stadium, the playground for some of the game's most colorful personalities – Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, and, of course, Babe Ruth. Only a line drive away from the current stadium, the Yankees are building a $1 billion stadium with more corporate suites, more retail space, and probably higher ticket prices.
Yet the old stadium – complete with a haven of manicured green grass, high-decibel fans, and its Monument Park to remember past Yankee greats – holds a special place for the national pastime. That's in large part because, like Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago, it dates back to the first part of the 20th century, when baseball became an important part of the national psyche. The Yankees have 26 World Series championships, the most for any team.
The stadium has also been important for the Bronx, the only city borough on the mainland.
"It put us on the world stage, really," says Adolfo Carrion Jr., Bronx Borough president. "Everyone knew this was a magical team from New York in the Bronx."
Of course, not all the memories are sweet. In the 1970s, arsonists burned down buildings that landlords owed taxes on. The torching came to America's attention during the 1977 World Series when sportscaster Howard Cosell, watching the image of a five-alarm fire, said, "There it is, ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning."
The moment prompted a book and an ESPN miniseries. Ironically, the last All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium was in 1977.
The Yankees themselves haven't always wanted to be in the Bronx. They threatened to move to New Jersey in the 1990s. Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor who was often seen sporting a Yankees cap, wanted to move them to Manhattan's West Side.