Boy Meets World Series Champ

girardi

Yes, that's me, in the Yankees cap, with the Skipper

On Tuesday morning, in front of the ever-impressive Woolworth Building, the ever-impressive Yankees made yet another impression on the lives of New Yorkers.  This time it came in the form of a granite slab commemorating their victory parade last fall through the Canyon of Heroes to honor their 27th World Series victory. Thousands of New Yorkers showed up in November to hail their favorite team and to cover the players–not to mention  Broadway–in shredded papers (we don’t ask what they’re shredding).

Seven months later, a much smaller crowd gathered in front of 233 Broadway.  And that was my chance to pounce.

As a season ticket holder, I was able to watch numerous games in person last year as the Yankees battled to gain baseball’s greatest prize.  And in the end, I was able to watch Game 6 from the left field bleachers as the Bombers beat the Philadelphia Phillies and were crowned World Series champions.  I took that Game 6 ticket home with me, tucked it securely away, and thought about the day, 50 years from now, when I would show it to my grandson and tell him about Matsui’s amazing performance and how I was there when the Yankees won it all (again).

On June 15th, I went back to that hiding place, pulled out my ticket (carefully protected from harmful sun rays) and stuck it in my bag. The Yankee Skipper, Joe Girardi was coming Downtown to unveil the new granite strip, and I was going to do my best to meet him.  At first it seemed unlikely.  The press blocked my entrance from one side, and police barriers and public safety officers were guarding his flank.  And from behind?  Phalanxes of Little Leaguers were lined up to help with the show… would it be bad form to trample a 6-year-old?

Thank the Downtown Alliance for respecting an obsession.  Like herding an 8-year-old girl to meet Miley Cyrus I was ushered to the front of the pack.  My ticket in hand, palms sweaty–what would I say?  A friend saw me moving closer and pushed a baseball into my hands, “Cotz! Get this signed too!”  This was it, standing right next to him now–this guy has 4 rings!  Do you know how hard that is?

But he wouldn’t turn around!  He was too busy signing baseballs and ballcaps for the Little Leaguers!  The nerve!  OK, don’t panic.  Just get his attention somehow: “Hey Skip! The big kids need autographs too!” Wow. Did I just say that?  Totally pathetic.  But it worked.  He turned around and took my ticket. “That’s Game 6 Joe!”  No response.  I think he was too nice to say what he really thought of me.

I got the ticket back, and with the left hand I entered the baseball into the scrum.  He took it and signed it as well.  Double score!  What a nice guy, continuing to smile as a bunch of grown men acted like a group of adolescents.

When I got out of the crowd I found my buddy and gave him the ball, Hercules dropping the Hydra’s head at the foot of the king.  He turned around and handed it to a stranger.  Turns out my favor to him was his favor to someone else.   And my getting to the front was a favor to me, so I guess that’s just how the world works.

I won’t soon forget the experience.  It was great of Joe to come Downtown, and the time he spent with the kids will, I’m sure, stay with them for a long time. I know my ticket will be getting promoted from a hidden folder to a frame on my wall.  And every time I walk by the Woolworth Building, and see that commemorative sidewalk strip, it will put a smile on my face.

But ultimately there’s only one way to beat this experience–with another World Series win and another ticker-tape parade.