I wasn't able to attend the final Old Timer's Day bash at Yankee Stadium. I wanted to. I tried to, but work, family responsibilities and such forced me to watch the festivities from the comfort of my sofa.
Transfixed, I became 15 again, and my flat screen was the portal to my past as I watch a cavalcade of pinstriped stars parade before me. From my earliest days as a Yankee fan, there was Gene Michael, and Horace Clark. It broke my heart knowing Bobby and Thurman couldn't enjoy this day as well. The Yankees of my teens were well-represented; Mickey, Tommy, Ed, Chris, Greg and Willie ...
I still remember sitting in the backseat of my mom's Chevy Malibu as we pulled up alongside Ron Guidry's corvetter in Wyckoff, NJ the afternoon before a game with the Orioles. I rolled down my window and screamed out for Gator to "Kick some Oriole ass!" that night. He gave me a smile and a thumbs up while my mom sat mortified over her 15 year old son's potty-mouth.
The Yankees of my adult life were also there: Paulie, Tino, and Joe were there, I'm sure Donnie Baseball would have been there, but he's bleeding Dodger Blue right now. But were was Bernie?
I read he was at the pre-All-Star game event at the Javits Center. I heard he threw out the first pitch at a refurbished Little League Field earlier in the week. And yes, I read in Newsday that the Yankees invited him back, but he declined due to a family vacation.
So what is planned for #51? He deserves an ovation like the one Willie, Tino and Paulie got. If not at the last Old Timer's Day, then certainly a special Sunday afternoon event where 56,000 can shower him with love.
Whatever fences were busted between Bernie and the Yankees, this last Old Timer's Day showed me they need to be mended right now. Bernie is as important to the Yankee family as any, and the Yankees need to extend a hand to Bernie and thank him for his years of All-Star service--and they need to do it before the gates close on the great stadium in the Bronx.