Two of my favorite things in this world are baseball and comic books. I once thought I was destined for a career in the latter before giving that idea up for the former. Neither might end up coming to fruition, but it just means I get to geek out over moments when the two intersect–like I did last year when I chronicled the time Superman saved Yankee Stadium from a Godzilla-like monster. Here's another crossover I found a few years back, forgot about, and now remembered all over again. This time, the Yankees showed up in the pages of Batman. Well, not exactly Batman, but close enough.
Back in 2008, in the pages of Nightwing–a book staring the original Robin, Dick Grayson, in his adult identity of Nightwing–the New York Yankees made a cameo appearance. To give you a backstory, at this point in time during the book's run, Nightwing had just finished up the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul storyline, where–you guessed it–the dead super-villain was brought back to life. Following that event, DC Comics brought on veteran writer Peter Tomasi and artist Rags Morales in issue #140 to help push Nightwing out from under the shadow of Batman. In order to do this, they had Dick Grayson leave Gotham and move to New York City, a location mostly ignored in the DC Comics Universe, where they planned to give him a life of his own. In order to fully cement him into New York living, the "Freefall" story arc had him mingle with known New York landmarks. He got a job at the Cloisters museum in Manhattan in their first issue and he visited Yankee Stadium in issue #141.
As part of the new direction they wanted to steer Nightwing in, they introduced a new love interest into his life named Deborah Poulos. Looking back on it now, her character was never really developed beyond the idea that she wasn't Batgirl or any other superhero. So, on their first date, Dick took her to Yankee Stadium:
That year, the Yankees opened up the 2008 season on April 1 at home against the Toronto Blue Jays. This issue happened to be released on the same day, making this Opening Day in the DC Comics universe. Obviously, the art was done well before the release date, so any artistic interpretation to the lineup on that day couldn't be reliable, but we can make a few guesses (completely make things up) on who is in the picture:
A. The first baseman is obviously Jason Giambi as he was the starter on that day.
B. Now this gets a little trickier since we don't know what inning it is. This generic baseball figure could be starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, or relievers Joba Chamberlain or Mariano Rivera, though none were wearing high socks at the time.
C. Then there's the players on the bench. Those four could be any combination of Shelley Duncan, Morgan Ensberg, Wilson Betemit, Jose Molina, Phil Hughes, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, or Ian Kennedy. You can also include Joe Girardi, Dave Eiland, Kevin Long, Rob Thomson, Tony Pena, and Bobby Meacham among the coaching staff as well.
We then see that the artistic team added their own personal touch to the game in order to bring the reader back into this fictional universe, opting to have the Yankees face the Gotham City Knights instead of Toronto.
Dick and Deborah flirt and discuss the Museum Life (thanks for those sweet tickets, Bruce) all while the game goes on and apparently, in the end, something bad happens to the Yankees. That's when Deborah makes note that she's a Mets fan, which is probably still a bad time to declare yourself such a fan, seeing as how they were just coming off the 2007 collapse and would miss the playoffs once again that year.
Taking a closer look at that scene, you can see the Yankees players pouting as their Gotham opponents circle the bases in what can only be–based on the reactions of the fans–a devastating blow to the home team:
We never end up seeing the results of the game because this is our last glimpse of Dick and Deborah's trip to Yankee Stadium. Perhaps in the fictional world on Earth-1 of main DC continuity, the Yankees lost Opening Day to the Knights, but on our Earth, the one we currently inhabit, the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 3-2. Of course, the issue was about more than just baseball and Nightwing went on to hang out with Superman and fight a hybrid flying zombie creature (you'll have to read the issue to find out what happens).
That season, the Yankees would go on to have a very disappointing year when they missed the playoffs for the first time since the strike-shortened 1994. The year also proved to be interesting for Dick Grayson as well, as his solo title would continue through issue # 153 before it was cancelled in 2009. In the months following his visit to the Stadium, Bruce Wayne would "die" and Dick would return to Gotham City in order to eventually take on the role of Batman. 2009 proved to be a much better year for both Dick and the Yankees.