As a young boy and diehard Yankees fan, I remember that October day in 1976 when Dad closed his barber shop early as he had unexpectedly received a last minute offer to a World Series game in Yankee Stadium.
I wanted to go so bad, but didn't have a ticket. I would watch on TV. He felt guilty and promised, "the next time I go to the World Series in Yankee Stadium I'll take you."
Over the years we have been to dozens of games at Yankee Stadium together. We did family road trips from our then upstate New York home (Mom and sister included) usually to see what were then scheduled double headers. I remember countless bus excursions with family and friends - family mostly - as Dad is one of 14 kids (seven boys and seven girls who are mostly Yankee fans). My grandma used to say, "Your father has been a Yankee fan since before he was old enough to eat with a fork."
So I guess that makes me a born and bred Yankee fan. I know no other way, and wouldn't want to.
By 1990, I had uprooted and moved to the Southeast. The trips to the Bronx ceased, but my love for the Yankees had not. The last journey we took to Yankee Stadium was in 1988.
So as we fast forward 20 years to Sept. 21, 2008. Thanks to my wife Jennifer, Dad and I find ourselves sitting in the legendary Yankee Stadium witnessing the last game ever to be played in "The House That Ruth Built."
(Jennifer Beadle told the Fort Mill Times she bought the tickets for her husband back in December 2007, and kept it a secret until his birthday this past April. Her family and his family chipped in on the cost, she said.
"He said something about it being their last year in The Stadium and I started looking at tickets," Jennifer Beadle said. "I thought, 'What if I could get tickets to the last game?' He does a lot to provide for the family, and it's not something he'd do for himself. He was shocked when I gave them to him. It was hard to keep it secret.")
As the day went on at The Stadium I could feel my arms tingling and heart pounding more and more. It was one big crescendo that just kept getting better and better as day turned to night and night turned to the next day. Whether is was the perfect picture, just the right souvenir, a scorecard, a batting practice ball, a walk on the field, dirt from the field or paint from The Stadium's walls, everyone wanted a piece of it. We toured Monument Park for the first time ever. We witnessed the distinguished and dignified Army Field Band pay tribute to John Phillip Sousa. We watched a pre-game ceremony that featured so many Yankee legends of the past, present and future that we didn't care if the game ever started.The atmosphere was electric. It was all capped off by a one-two-three ninth inning by "Mo." A Yankees victory (going in, we just knew they would win) was a touching thank you. To cap it off was a farewell speech by Captain Derek Jeter and a team victory lap. At the end of the night I asked Dad what he thought and he simply said "Just amazing. So many great memories. Beautiful."Dad and I witnessed an event that words can do no justice in describing. We are two generations soaking it all in and reminiscing of our great Yankee Stadium memories. We never got to that World Series together, but this was so much bigger and better than any World Series game. This is the best memory by far. And as all Yankee fans do, we will share this memory and all of the others with my young son and his soon-to-arrive brother.And it won't be long before they will begin to make their own memories in the new Yankee Stadium.
One last thing: Thank you, Jennifer!
• Art Beadle is a resident of Fort Mill. He wrote this piece in collaboration with his father, Ronnie Beadle.
Fort Mill Times reporter Jonathan Allen contributed.