THE BRONX N.Y — Where magic has happened the magic lingers though the physicality is gone like a distant star that’s light aura survives its implosion eternally moving through space redefining reality.
Such a place is here in the gritty neighborhood 35 minutes by subway from downtown Manhattan to the 161st Street station. The site the ”old” Yankee Stadium (1923) was torn to the ground carted off to oblivion in 2010 to make way for the new $2.3 billion Yankee Stadium which now covers acres of what once was green space in this high density population urban area.
Where the old Yankee Stadium once hosted America’s baseball heroes legendary men — demigods — whose prowess and personality were magic — a green lackluster space called Heritage Field (across the street from the new stadium) is a banal remnant of the venue that showcased the never-equaled elegant grace of athleticism.
Babe Ruth Joe DiMaggio Roger Maris Mickey Mantle Don Larson Lou Gehrig Thurman Munson Whitey Ford Yogi Berra Elston Howard Willie Mays and Ted Williams all played ball here.
Almost nothing was saved from demolition except a section of a white frieze also known as The Facade which once adorned top tiers of the old stadium. It is mounted in Heritage Field where neighborhood boys toss and hit balls and dream.
Rap music at eardrum-piercing levels blares near the new stadium where you can purchase a tour ticket at the door for $15 or upward of $50 per person if you use a ticket service. Public tours of about 45 minutes run every 30 minutes or so when games are not scheduled.
In the tour we walked first to the New York Yankees museum on Level 6 which displays a wide range of memorabilia including a Ball Wall of glass-like cubicles featuring hundreds of balls autographed by past and present Yankees. Plans include adding autographed balls for every living player.
Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series is the centerpiece tribute of the small museum where Larsen pitches in perpetuity to a sculpture of Yogi Berra in the classic catcher’s crouch.
We moved next to Monument Park moved from left-center-bullpens in the 1923 stadium to near home plate but still outdoors. The monuments are bas-relief plaques of Yankee icons affixed to stelae. A semicircular area features retired numbers of superstar players.
Our third stop was behind home plate where we could alight on the field for only an instant before stepping down into the dugout. The guide explained that the field’s surface is covered with a special finely crushed brick.
Yankee Stadium seems to have an excess of staff a following phalanx who scrutinized us extremely closely. Maybe they thought we would steal a base? (Pun)
We were allowed about 15 minutes in the Yankees dugout where it was exciting viewing the field from players’ perspectives — fantasizing being signaled to bat when bases are loaded two outs score tied last of the ninth World Series.
On Sept. 21 2008 when the Yankees played their final game in the old stadium fabled shortstop Derek Jeter spoke to the fans: ”We are relying on you to take the memories from this stadium add them to the new memories that come at the new stadium and continue to pass them along from generation to generation.”
As we left I think I glimpsed some of those legendary ”Boys of Summer” oblivious to the new digs playing their hearts out on greener fields far away; where they never strike out and they always catch the high flys.
Janice Law is a columnist for The Daily News. Have a travel question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.