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Greats honored in park farewell

NEW YORK — Even Yogi Berra knew this was the end.

As baseball said farewell to Yankee Stadium, one of the game's most beloved players stood beneath the stands in a full vintage uniform. Now 83, the man who coined the phrase "it ain't over till it's over" put his own stamp on the day.

"I'm sorry to see it over, I'll tell you that," Berra said.

The goodbye completed an 85-year run for the home of baseball's most famous team. What began with a Babe Ruth homer on an April afternoon in 1923 was about to end on a September night.

The greats were remembered during a 65-minute pregame ceremony that included 21 retired players, six of them Hall of Famers.

Bob Sheppard, the 90-something public address announcer who started in 1951, read the opening greeting. He missed this season because of illness but recorded his announcement and introduction of the Yankees starting lineup.

The 1922 American League pennant, the first to fly in the ballpark, was unfurled in the black batter's eye beyond centerfield. Young men and boys were introduced representing the opening-day lineup in 1923.

Julia Ruth Stevens, 92-year-old daughter of the Babe, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Derek Jeter received a crystal bat for breaking Lou Gehrig's record for hits at Yankee Stadium last week. There were so many cameras popping when Andy Pettitte threw the real first pitch, Brian Roberts seemed startled and didn't even try to swing.

Outside the stadium, the marquee that usually has the day's start time and opponent said: "Thanks for the Memories." Fans wore a collection of jerseys that could fill a Hall of Fame.

Fans were allowed on the field at 1 p.m. and entered through the leftfield seats not far from where Aaron Boone's ALCS-winning home run landed five years ago.

Glenn Bartow and his 13-year-old daughter arrived more than 12 hours before New York played Baltimore in a game that began at 8:36 p.m. and were the first ones into Monument Park.

"We come every Sunday," Emily Bartow said.

This Sunday was the very last.

SELIG EXPLAINS MOVE: Commissioner Bud Selig, under fire after two games in the Cubs-Astros series were moved to Milwaukee last week because of Hurricane Ike, took out a full-page ad in the Houston Chronicle to try to explain the decision.

With the hurricane heading for the Texas coast, two games in the three-game series scheduled to be played in Houston on Sept. 12-14 were moved to the Brewers' home park, sometimes referred to as "Wrigley North." The Astros lost both.

"I am well aware that many fans of the Houston Astros thought it unfair that we moved two of the three games of the Houston-Chicago series to Milwaukee," Selig wrote.

"We carefully analyzed all of our options. For three days, we were in constant contact with three different weather services and ultimately came to the conclusion that the only viable option was to move two games to a stadium with a dome where the games were guaranteed to be played. That decision led us to Milwaukee. …

"In making the decision to play there, I recognized the advantage the Cubs would have in playing in such close proximity to Chicago and had there been a better option, I would have taken it."

AILING ANGEL: Los Angeles LHP Joe Saunders' ongoing problems with a kidney stone will cause him to miss Tuesday night's scheduled start against the Mariners. RHPs Jered Weaver and Jon Garland will move ahead one day.

Greats honored in park farewell 09/21/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 1:02pm]
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