Results tagged ‘ David Cone ’

Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson visits Hall of Fame

By Craig Muder

Rick Anderson has mentored some of the finest American League hurlers in the last decade as the Minnesota Twins’ pitching coach.

But on Thursday, Anderson got to see the work of some of best pitchers in any league as he toured the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Anderson, 54, visited the Hall of Fame with his wife Rhonda and daughter Ashley. The Anderson family has spent the last few days traversing the northeast in advance of a reunion of the 1986 World Champion New York Mets this weekend in New York City.

Anderson made his big league debut with the Mets in 1986, going 2-1 with a 2.72 earned-run average in 15 games that year. He helped the Mets win 108 regular-season games en route to the world championship.

“It’s great to get together with the guys and see how they all are doing,” Anderson said. “A lot of us still in the game keep in touch, like (Braves pitching coach) Roger McDowell, (Mets minor league manager) Tim Teufel and (Red Sox hitting coach) Dave Magadan.”

Anderson’s professional pitching career began just up the road from Cooperstown in Little Falls, N.Y., in 1978 with the Class A Little Falls Mets. That year, Anderson pitched for the big league club in the Hall of Fame Game when the Mets played the Tigers at Doubleday Field.

Anderson wrapped up his big league pitching career with the Royals in 1987 and 1988 after going to Kansas City in the David Cone trade before the 1987 season. He was named the Twins pitching coach before the 2002 season, overseeing two Cy Young Award-winning seasons by Johan Santana and four-time All-Star closer Joe Nathan as the Twins advanced to the playoffs six times in 10 seasons.

In 2004, Anderson returned to Cooperstown with the Twins for a Hall of Fame Game against the Braves.

“We’ve been here before, but it’s such a great place we wanted to come back on our way to the city,” Anderson said. “It’s just wonderful, all the history here. It really is a special place.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Prepare 4 October in Cooperstown: New York Yankees

By Trevor Hayes

While the heartbeat of baseball can be found in Cooperstown throughout the year, there’s no better time to reconnect with the National Pastime than when legends are being made. As the postseason approaches, fans all over the country can connect with the Hall of Fame to get in the fall spirit.

Bronx Bombers fans have a heavily beaten path from New York City to Cooperstown, the Yankees are a short drive from the Home of Baseball, where they are well represented with a record 27 World Championships.

The team’s legacy goes back almost a full century with 48 Hall of Famers tied to the interlocking NY, while 25 have made their careers on the field while wearing the pinstripes of baseball’s winningest franchise. From the early days of Wee Willie and Happy Jack to the Babe, the Iron Horse, the Clipper, the Mick, Casey, Yogi and Whitey followed by Catfish, Goose and Mr. October and more recently Bernie, Mr. November, Mo and A-Rod; the Yanks have been blessed with stardom. All of which is detailed in a special exhibit from the Associated Press at the Hall of Fame called Pinstripe Pictures.

During first two years of the American League’s existence, there was no team in New York, but the Baltimore Orioles moved to the Big Apple and became the Highlanders. While stars like Jack Chesbro, whose record 41st win of the 1904 season is celebrated with the record-setting ball in One for the Books, came first, it wasn’t however until adopting a new nickname and buying Babe Ruth from their rivals in Beantown that the Yankees really came into their own.

Ruth, of course, is one of the greatest players of all-time and as such, is honored for his record-setting career as a home run hitter in One for the Books and The Babe Ruth Room which is found within the Baseball Timeline and is dedicated to telling his story. The Yankees of the 1920s and 30s were molded in Ruth’s image, taking on the moniker Murderer’s Row with future Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Tony Lazzeri – who is noted as the first player to hit two grand slams in a single game with a scorebook showing his feat in One for the Books – leading the lineup while Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock were the stalwarts on the mound.

In 1928, the Bronx Bombers boasted nine future Hall of Famers with another baseball legend, Miller Huggins at the helm. By 1930, they’d reached six World Series and won three. Within the Timeline are items presented to Hoyt after the 1928 season in which he went 23-7 and won two games in the Series; a jacket, cap and mitt used by Pennock; spikes belonging to leadoff hitter and speedster Combs; and a pocket watch and warm-up sweater worn by Huggins

While Ruth aged and Gehrig came in to his prime, manager Joe McCarthy took over in 1931. The team once again was led by a future Hall of Famer and featured nine on the field for three seasons with names like Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing. As the Yanks won five more Championships in the 1930s, the team carved a larger place within baseball history and therefore in the Timeline, where Gehrig’s original Yankee Stadium locker, trophies and his uniform are on display, while a 1939 uniform from his final season in One for the Books marks the end of his consecutive games played streak – once considered an unbreakable record.

Transitioning from the Iron Horse to the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio became the on field leader. In the 1940s New York took home four more Championships and five AL pennants, despite a small dip during World War II when the team sent several stars to the military like DiMaggio, 2009 Hall of Fame Inductee Joe Gordon, catcher Bill Dickey, and shortstop and future Voice of the Yankees Phil Rizzuto, whose popular catchphrase “Holy Cow!” inspired an exhibit that now greets visitors near the lobby at the Hall of Fame.

Within the Hall, DiMaggio has a presence within One for the Books where his record 56-game hitting streak is celebrated with an interactive video monitor inside his original Yankee Stadium locker.

As the 1950s arrived stars like Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra joined DiMaggio and the Bombers, while the legendary Professor Casey Stengel took over the reigns in 1949, capturing a record five straight Titles from 1949-53. Stengel left the team after the 1960 season, failing to reach the World Series in 1954 and 1959 – winning seven times. During this time, Don Larsen authored the lone perfect game in World Series history, which is preserved in Autumn Glory with several artifacts.

The mitt worn by Larsen’s receiver, Berra, is on display in One for the Books, while the backstop’s 1951 MVP Award – one of three he earned – along with Rizzuto’s glove and batting helmet; Stengel’s warm-up jacket and spikes; items from team architects George Weiss and Lee MacPhail and jerseys from Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle can be found in the Timeline. Mantle also has artifacts like the ball he hit for his 522nd homer, passing Ted Williams are also in the Timeline, while the bat he used to hit his 500th home run and the bat he used to hit an estimated 565-foot home run are on display in One for the Books. Also during this time period Mantle and two-time MVP  Roger Maris unleashed an assault on Ruth’s home run record, with Maris breaking the mark in 1961 by hitting 61. A score sheet from the historic game, Maris’ bat and the ball from No. 61 call One for the Books their home. In Baseball at the Movies, as part of the 50th celebration of this event, there are also a number of artifacts from the movie 61* about the 1961 season including an autographed shooting script from director Billy Crystal.

After losing the 1964 World Series, it wouldn’t be until 1976 that the Bombers would make it back to the promised land and not until 1977 that they’d capture another crown. With a new crop of future Inductees, the Yankees won back-to-back titles with a team referred to as the Bronx Zoo. In the Hall of Fame’s Timeline this era is represented by Reggie Jackson’s bat from 1977, the season he earned his Mr. October nickname; a mitt and mask used by captain and catcher Thurman Munson; and Goose Gossage’s 1982 jersey, in which he struck out 102 batters in 93 innings and saved 30 games.

While the 1980s were the first decade since the Teens that the Yankees failed to win a championship, stars like captain Don Mattingly and future Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson, Phil Niekro and Dave Winfield wore the pinstripes. Each of them craved their own niche in baseball history – with Niekro and Mattingly’s record-setting time noted in One for the Books. Mattingly’s sixth grand slam bat and his eighth consecutive game with a home run bat, both from the 1987 season, appear there along with Niekro’s interlocking NY cap worn during his 3,000th career strikeout.

The Yankees reloaded and began their next dynasty in the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s, the players making history continued to be generous in donations. Among items the Hall has collected since the 90s began are one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott’s 1993 no-hitter cap (One for the Books); a bat used by Paul O’Neill’s during his 1994 batting title; a bat used by the second most prolific postseason home run hitter of all-time Bernie Williams during the 1996 Title run; manager Joe Torre’s 1998 World Series jersey; David Cone’s perfect game jersey from 1999 (all in the Timeline); and Hideki Matsui’s bat from the 2003 World Series when he became the first Japanese-born player to homer in the Fall Classic (Today’s Game).

Moving from old to new, the Bronx Bombers’ winning tradition is marked in One for the Books where a replica of the 1996 World Series trophy is on display, donated by former team owner George Steinbrenner – who led the team to seven World Championships.

The Yankees squads of today – some of whom were around for the beginning of the 90s renaissance – have staked out their spot inside the Hall of Fame as well. In his climb up the home run leader boards, Alex Rodriguez has donated his 500th home run helmet (One for the Books); his 2009 jersey from when he tied the AL record for 30 home run and 100 RBI seasons with 13 (Today’s Game); and  to  600th career home run spikes (Today’s Game). Artifacts from current captain Derek Jeter include his 1996 World Series jersey (Autumn Glory); 1998 World Series spikes (Timeline); the batting gloves he wore to become the Yankees all-time hits leader, passing Gehrig (Today’s Game); and his 3,000th hit batting gloves and helmet from earlier this year (Today’s Game). And Panamanian-born closer Mariano Rivera – who just this week reached 600 career saves – donated among other items, his cap from save No. 400 (Today’s Game), the 1999 World Series spikes in which he recorded two of his 23 consecutive saves (¡Viva Baseball!) and his 2009 two-save World Series cap.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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Hall Monitor: Big Macs, Pitching Phils and a big Hall of Famer Day

By Trevor Hayes

It’s been a couple of busy weeks – sorry for slacking on our weekly Cooperstown Chatter update from around the Majors. It was a great Father’s Day in Upstate New York and it’s been a great week since.

The Shields Sunshine Express: James Shields has dominated the Marlins this season. On May 22, he threw nine scoreless innings and struck out 13. On Father’s Day, he yet again took advantage of the Fish, striking out 10 in another nine innings of scoreless ball. Since 1990, Shields feat of two nine-inning, 10-or-more K starts against the same team has been accomplished just three other times: Hideo Nomo stymied the Giants twice in 1995, David Cone also got the Giants twice in 1992 and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan shut down the White Sox in 1990.

Old Big Mac: For the second time in Major League history, there is an 80-plus year old serving as skipper. On Monday, 80-year old Jack McKeon was named interim manager of the Marlins. McKeon joins the Tall Tactician, Hall of Famer Connie Mack, as the only octogenarians to lead big league clubs. Mack ended his career at 87 in 1950, his 50th season leading the Philadelphia Athletics.

Monday’s change at the top in Miami came with McKeon’s Florida squad losing its 19th game in 20 contests. During the slide, 10 of the defeats have been by one run – becoming the second team to go 1-19 over 20 games with 10 one-run losses. The other was the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics, managed by the then 80-year old Mack.

Master-Lee: Cliff Lee’s Tuesday night start continued his Phabulous, Phanatical Phillie pitching with a second straight shutout. In June, he is 4-0 with a 0.27 ERA in four starts and has a chance to run the table with one more scheduled start on the 28th. Since World War II, only four Phils have finished a month with a sub-1.00 ERA, with the last being Hall of Famer Jim Bunning’s 0.87 in August 1967.

With back-to-back shutouts, Lee is the first pitcher to accomplish the feat since 2004 and just the fourth in the last 35 seasons. Should Lee throw a third straight shutout, he would join Robin Roberts in 1950 as the only Phillies pitchers to go back-to-back-to-back in the live ball era.

Speedy Weeks: The A’s have a promising young speedster. Jemile Weeks scored three runs and stole two bases at Citi Field on Tuesday. Just three other Oakland rookies have put together that kind of day since the the A’s moved to Oakland:: Felix Jose (July 11, 1990), Luis Polonia (June 20, 1987) and all-time steals, all-time runs leader, Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson (Sept. 14, 1979).

Around the Majors: There are two major events on the Hall of Fame calendar this weekend. They’ll be taking place in Detroit and the Bronx.

In Detroit on Sunday afternoon, Sparky Anderson’s iconic No. 11 will take its rightful place on the Comerica Park wall alongside the team’s seven other retired numbers. In the Tigers 111-year history, Charlie Gehringer (2), Hank Greenberg (5), Willie Horton (23), Al Kaline (6), Hal Newhouser (16) and Jackie Robinson (42) have had numbers retired. Anderson will be represented by members of his family, including his three children.

Also on Sunday in New York, the Yankees will hold their 65th Old-Timers’ Day with over 50 retired former Yanks on hand. Among those will be Hall of Fame family members Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Helen Hunter (widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter) and Reggie Jackson.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

A wild night

Wiles_90.jpgBy Tim Wiles

I will always remember exactly where I was when Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run, eclipsing the record held by Roger Maris for 37 years.

02-22-11-Wiles_McGwire.jpgThe date was Sept, 8, 1998, and I was one of 33,409 lucky people sitting in Fenway Park, watching a terrific matchup between David Cone of the Yankees and Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first ever matchup between two pitchers with 18 or more victories and with winning percentages of at least .783 (Cone 18-5). Martinez was at .818. (18-4)

There was a charged playoff atmosphere, despite the fact that the first-place Yankees entered the game at 100-41, 18.5 games ahead of their archrivals, who themselves were 22 games above .500 at 82-60. The Red Sox, who had won the night before, were trying to stave off a Yankee clincher in their home park.

The game was tight, and was tied 1-1 going into the Yankee eighth. 

The leadoff hitter was Joe Girardi. I always enjoyed watching Joe play, as we had grown up together and been basketball teammates in Peoria, Ill. He singled to lead off the inning.

02-22-11-Wiles_Fenway.jpgFrom my vantage point down the right field line, I thought I saw Girardi take off on a steal attempt, not out of the question for a catcher with better than average wheels, but certainly an exciting gambit in a tie game on the road. Subsequent research tells me I was watching first base too closely – he actually took off on a wild pitch.

As Girardi popped up from his slide into second, Fenway Park erupted in a standing ovation. I watched him jerk his head in several directions trying to figure out why the Boston fans were so happy that he had safely arrived at second.

Then both his eyes and mine landed on the scoreboard in center field, which said something like “Mark McGwire has just hit his 62nd home run, breaking Roger Maris’ record. Congratulations, Mark!”

Girardi went on to score and the Yankees took a 3-1 lead en route to a 3-2 victory. Their victory in the third and final game of the series the next night clinched the pennant.

It’s moments like these that will be brought to life in the Hall of Fame’s new One for the Books exhibit. The exhibit opens Memorial Day Weekend in Cooperstown.

Tim Wiles is the director of research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: One Round Down


Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The opening round of the playoffs was notable in many ways, from to woes Minnesota has with the Bronx Bombers to the tight, to-the-wire competitions between the Giants and Braves. As October rolls on, today’s players write their stories.


10-15-10-Hayes_FellerLemon.jpgThe Roys
: Bolstered by the second-ever postseason no-hitter and a solid sweep, the Phillies’ rotation is set for another run. And coincidentally, two of the team’s three NLDS starting pitchers share more than a uniform. If Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt can help bring another World Series trophy to Philadelphia, they will be the fifth set of same-named starters to do so. The others: The 1998 Yankees with David Cone and David Wells; the 1988 Dodgers with Tim Belcher and Tim Leary; the 1983 Orioles with Mike Boddicker and Mike Flanagan; and the first pair, who not only led the 1948 Indians but also joined the Hall of Fame: Bob Feller and Bob Lemon.

Famous in Philly: Cole Hamels was impressive two years ago, and along with the Roys, he’s harnessing that again. He tossed a shutout in the deciding game of the NLDS. In 2008, he marched the Phillies to their first World Series title since 1980, picking up iconic status in the city, four wins and a pair of postseason MVP Awards along the way. His shutout this year was his sixth career playoff win, matching another legend, Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, who served as the team’s ace during its glory years in the 1980s.


10-15-10-Hayes_GehrigRuth.jpgTexas Boppers meet Bronx Bombers
: Over the last week, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz provided plenty of pop to propel the Rangers to an ALCS matchup with the Yankees. The Texas duo each hit three home runs, making them the second pair of teammates to connect for at least three homers apiece while playing five or fewer postseason games, The other pair set their standard in 1928. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, with each famous Yankee hitting three homers during a four-game sweep of the Cardinals.

Master Lee: The Ranger’s success against the Rays can also be attributed to the man who won two games. Cliff Lee’s postseason dominance has made him seem incapable of walking batters, who seem incapable of getting to him. His 21 strikeouts without a walk set a new single-series record, besting the previous mark of 14 set by the Braves’ Kevin Millwood when he didn’t walk a Giant in the 2002 NLDS. Meanwhile, Lee  tossed a complete game in Game Five, his fifth game with seven or more innings of without a walk. That ties Hall of Fame Christy Mathewson for the second-most and is just two behind Greg Maddux’s record of seven.

10-15-10-Hayes_GomezGibson.jpgWith just two years of postseason play under his belt, Lee is now 6-0 in seven starts. Only five pitchers in major league history have six wins in their first seven postseason starts, including Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Lefty Gomez.  Pitching in Games One and Five, Lee won his fifth and sixth straight decisions as a starter to begin his postseason career, equaling Gomez for third-most all-time. The record is eight, and Lee is slated for at least one more start without going on short rest. He’s also rattled off five straight W’s in which he pitched seven or more innings. Only Dave Stewart, Gibson and fellow Hall of Famers Red Ruffing have longer streaks.

Last of the 30: In the first-ever series in which the road team won every game, the Rangers picked up their first-ever postseason series win. Dating back to the 1961 Washington Senators, the franchise has finally claimed victory in baseball’s second season, the last active franchise to do so. The franchise waited 41 years to taste postseason glory, a drought only eclipsed by four teams, three of which began play before the World Series started in 1903. From their birth onward, only the Phillies (104 years), Dodgers (79 years), Orioles (63 years) and Cardinals (50 years) took longer to win their first playoff series. Like Texas, each of those teams had made the postseason before. And each year they finally won a postseason series, they went on to win the World Series. In fact, only the Astros, Brewers, Mariners, Nationals, Padres, Rays and Rockies did not win the World Series in the same season the franchise garnered its first playoff series win.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Perfect Mark

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

There is a saying that you can’t mess with perfection and I’m sure that’s why the artifacts from Mark Buehrle’s perfect game arrived late last week instead of two weeks ago.

8-11-09-Hayes_Buehrle.jpgYou see, when Buehrle hurled his second career no-hitter on July 23rd against the Tampa Bay Rays – the first perfect game in the majors since Randy Johnson’s on May 18, 2004 – history wasn’t over. Buehrle went on to retire the first 17 Minnesota Twins he faced during his next start on July 28th.

Mark Buehrle not only threw the 18th perfect game in major league history (17th during the regular season), but he set the major league record for scoreless innings during his next start. Counting the final out he recorded on July 18 versus Baltimore, Buehrle retired 45 consecutive batters. That broke the record of 41 set by Jim Barr in 1972 and Buehrle’s Sox teammate Bobby Jenks, a reliever, in 2007.

From the historic event, the Hall of Fame has received Buehrle’s jersey and a ball used during the perfect game.

8-11-09-Hayes_BuehrlePitch.jpgCoupled with his 2007 no-no, Buehrle is the sixth pitcher to collect both a perfect game and a no-hitter during his career, joining Hall of Famers Jim Bunning, Addie Joss, Sandy Koufax, Cy Young and current Giants pitcher Randy Johnson. Coincidentally, both of Buehrle’s no-no’s have come at home at U.S. Cellular Field with umpire Eric Cooper behind the plate – a first for a pitcher-umpire combo.

Buehrle’s gem set a lot of other firsts too. It was the first against a current league or division champ, aside from Don Larsen’s perfecto against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. According to the Elias Sport Bureau, because the Rays were third in the majors in runs scored, Buehrle joins Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter (versus the Twins in 1968) as the only pitchers throw a perfect game against teams ranked in the top-five in the majors in runs scored.

There’s more: Josh Fields became the first player to hit a grand slam while his teammate threw a perfect game. Ramon Castro teamed with Buehrle to become the first battery to never start a game together before recording a perfect game. The final out was Jason Bartlett, who made the All-Star team this season and was hitting .342 coming into the game. No other pitcher completed a perfect game by retiring a batter hitting at least .300 or who had the All-Star team in the same season.

8-11-09-Hayes_Wise.jpgThe story of Buehrle’s perfect game can’t be told without teammate DeWayne Wise. He was inserted into the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. The first batter, Gabe Kapler drilled a 2-2 pitch to center. Wise bolted for the wall and brought Kapler’s drive back, robbing the Rays outfielder of a homer. In one last first: surely that catch is the most spectacular ever made to save a perfect game and almost certainly by a defensive replacement. Though it’s not an official stat, Wise was still kind enough to send his glove along with Buehrle’s jersey and the game ball to commemorate the special day.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The new Yankee Stadium takes its bow

Appel_90.jpgBy Marty Appel

On Opening Day of the refurbished Yankee Stadium, April 15, 1976, it was nearly 90 degrees and of course, I had overdressed, deeming it appropriate to wear a suit and tie on this formal occasion. I was the PR director; I was the guy on the field trying to make order out of 50 photographers and a long list of VIPs, coordinating the introductions with hand signals to Bob Sheppard in the PA booth. All of my “assistance” from stadium security had vanished, dispatched to Mr. Steinbrenner’s office for his pregame party.

So there I was, alone on the field with Joe Louis, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Frank Gifford, Kyle Rote, Johnny Unitas, Weeb Ewbank and others with Stadium pedigrees. 4-17-09-Appel_OldYankeeStadium.jpgBob Shawkey, who pitched the 1923 opener, was on hand to throw out the first pitch, and he was surrounded on the mound by Mel Allen, the legendary “Voice of the Yankees;” by Pete Sheehy, the kindly clubhouse manager who had been there since 1927; by Toots Shor, the restaurateur whose eatery had been a second home to so many athletes; and by James Farley, former postmaster general, head of the Democratic Party, Haverstraw, N.Y. amateur baseball player, and season-ticket holder since ’23. Whitey Witt stood at the plate — he was the first Yankees batter in ’23.

Although recent publicity has called the remodeled Yankee Stadium inferior to the original, at the time, almost everyone had glowing approval for the project. Escalators, a video-replay scoreboard (which didn’t work on Opening Day), no obstructed-view seating, modern-dining facilities, luxury boxes and a new sound system all had kicked the aging park into modern times. The faade design, not yet held in iconic status as it is today, graced the top of the bleacher billboards. There wasn’t seating in the left-field bleachers until it was hastily installed prior to the ’76 ALCS, and thus the attendance of 54,010 was less than the eventual capacity.

These thoughts were in my mind as I boarded the crowded D train at Columbus Circle for the 15-minute trip to the Bronx. Today, you can always tell when it’s the right train, because everyone is wearing Yankees clothing — caps, Jeter T-shirts, etc. I always remember George Weiss, the GM in the ’50s, supposedly pounding on his desk in front of a promotion man who was touting Cap Day and saying, “Do you think I want every kid in this town walking around in a Yankees cap?” As if it would be sacrilegious.

Upon emerging from the subway Thursday, I the first view is not of the beautiful new Stadium, but of the old one, over there to the left, experiencing the early stages of demolition. I was very emotional when I attended the final game last September, and this is yet another tug at my heartstrings. Sledgehammers are doing their jobs along the bleacher walls, and within the next few months, the concrete will be down, and the reality will really set in. I’ve been going there since 1956. This is tough to see.

I was early enough to take a full walk around the new park. There are no statues, as other teams have included, but plenty of signage and banners remembering great Yankees: Ruth to Gehrig to DiMaggio to Mantle to Munson to Murcer to Jackson to Mattingly to O’Neill to Williams to Jeter to Rivera to Sabathia. Yes, to CC. Hey, he was going for his second Yankees win Thursday! And the first rule of promoting your product is to promote the current product more than the old.

It’s nice that Babe Ruth Plaza not only remains, but is also enhanced. It used to be just three words in broken tile in a patch of concrete breaking up traffic flow on 161st Street. Now it has a more formal presence, as the outside of the first-base/right-field side of the stadium. The inside complement is called the Great Hall. (I might have named it the Grand Concourse, after the nearby Bronx street.)

Everyone is in a festive mood, and there had been rumors in the last 24 hours of not Yogi, but of President Obama — or of Archbishop Dolan, newly installed just Wednesday, handling the honors. The paper this morning said it would be Yogi, which is just fine. He has been a loveable figure in this town since his 1946 debut 63 years ago. How do you stay so lovable so long? You have to be the real deal, and he is. He’s the most honorable, honest and genuine person you could ever know. It is wonderful that he is still with us, just short of 84, to perform this honor. Although he does move closer to home plate with each ceremonial toss!

I arrived about two hours early and spent a lot of time photographing exterior shots. I decided that the crossing of 161st Street by hundreds of fans coming off the subway will take on the look of a Yankees fashion parade in no time. And just a few days after New York’s traditional Easter Parade! It’s quite a sight to see this sea of Yankees blue swarm across the street towards Babe Ruth Plaza.

I’m in Section 212, sitting with Jeff Idelson, my pal for almost 20 years and the president of the Hall of Fame. Like me, Jeff is a former Yankees PR director. The late Anne Mileo was secretary to us both, and it’s a good day to remember Anne as well.

4-17-09-Appel_Berra.jpgAfter receiving an Opening Day pin (sure to be a collectors item), I continued taking photos inside, thinking, “What would we be wanting to see of 1923’s opener if we could?”

So I shot concession-stand price signs, the restaurants, the signage and the museum, complete with all its signed baseballs, statues of Yogi and Larsen and the World Series trophies since 1977. I took a photo of the signed baseball of journeyman catcher Sal Fasano, one of my son’s favorite players, and wondered why I have no recollection of Frank Tanana ever being a Yankee.

The opening ceremonies were less tear-evoking than the final game last year, but still a marvel. John Fogerty sang “Centerfield” (love it), Bernie Williams did “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” on guitar (love him) and Kelly Clarkson performed the national anthem. (She is a different person than Carrie Underwood, right?)

The old timers introduced were a mixed bag of memories — good for the Yankees to invite the much-maligned Horace Clark, and how good it was to see Jerry Coleman, Whitey Ford and Bobby Brown, who, beside Mr. Berra, were the senior citizens. The biggest hands were for the more recent players — Williams, O’Neill, Tino Martinez, David Cone, etc., probably because younger fans cheer louder. Some of my favorites were there: Bobby Richardson, Moose Skowron, Ron Blomberg, Luis Arroyo, Ralph Terry and Bob Turley. (I guess we’ll never see Jim Bouton at such a gathering.) I wish Gene Michael had received a louder ovation, if only for what he meant as a super scout in the early ’90s, building the Yankees dynasty of that decade.

To me, with a public-relations background, much of a fan’s experience should be about how many cheer moments their day at the ballpark provides. 4-17-09-Appel_Posada.jpgFor example, I was at the first exhibition game on April 3 against the Cubs. Jackson threw out the first pitch. I think the fans would have gotten a chill if the PA announcer had said, “And joining Reggie for the ceremonial first pitch … one of his teammates from those great Yankees teams of the ’70s … one of the most popular players to ever wear the Yankees uniform … here today as the manager of the Chicago Cubs … a warm Yankee Stadium welcome for … Lou Piniella!” It would have been a terrific moment.

Jeff and I then sat back and enjoyed a baseball game as two old friends should. We commented on Sabathia’s high pitch count and rolled our eyes at the leather-lunged fan ahead of us who chose to stand and yell “hip hip …” on every pitch to Jorge Posada, so that everyone would follow with “Hor-HAY!” Wasn’t it a supernatural act, that when Posada hit the first home run in the new ballpark, our hero was off in the men’s room or somewhere and missed it?

Jeff and I shared a lot of observations about the minutiae of the place — the placement of the monuments, the retired numbers, the out-of-town scoreboard, even whether the PR department was correct to omit the 1974 opener at Shea Stadium in the media packet that included Hilltop Park, the Polo Grounds, the original Yankee Stadium and the remodeled Yankee Stadium. (We thought Shea belonged.)

When the Indians got nine runs in one inning, the fans started to yell “We want Swisher!” after Nick had pitched a shutout inning in the 15-5 loss Monday. That was pretty funny, and I hope Nick heard it in right field.

Yankee Stadium traditions continued — YMCA, three-card monte, the subway race, Ronan Tynan doing “God Bless America,” the bleacher bums’ roll call, and of course, the captain, Derek Jeter, being The Man. The fans love him, and he’s worthy of it. As Mantle had been a hero to me, and then 4-17-09-Appel_Jeter.jpgDon Mattingly to my son, it’s wonderful that someone like Jeter has come along for this generation. Baseball perpetuates itself.

It was a Yankees loss, but every team is going to lose 60 games, so you sort of put that aside and move on if you’re a Yankees fan. Posada hitting the first home run was big. The ballpark is a winner. And watching the game with a friend is the best part of it all.

After the opener at new Yankee Stadium, the following items were donated to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and will soon be on display in Cooperstown: a game-used ball signed by Indians starting pitcher Cliff Lee, the spikes worn by Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia and the bat used by Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore to hit a seventh-inning grand slam.

Marty Appel is a special contributor to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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