The Bronx Bombers drew two fresh fan faces at a recent afternoon game, thanks to a promise my husband and I made to my sister, their mother, to create memories, not wrapping paper waste, this past birthday season.
The boys, age 9 and 10, still live in the wondrous world where they’re the only inhabitants, visited inconveniently by adults. Patience is non-existent at that age—the magical belief is that everything should unfold at the asking.
After what truly did feel like a decade-long Metro-North ride into the city from Connecticut, but was really an hour and a half, the 4 train to Yankee Stadium provided a much-needed change of scenery. The few times we’ve taken the subway with these kids, novelty prompts them to treat the stanchions like stripper poles—amusing some straphangers and clearly annoying others. The zombie majority, however, ears cupped with headphones attached via umbilical cords to smartphones, stare blankly at some curious point in the distance, oblivious to the boys’ attempts to shimmy up the poles. Luckily, the press of the other packed Yankee-capped sardines forced them to stay stick still and plant all feet on the floor so I didn’t have to nail them there.
While these athletic boys have boundless energy, the one activity they hate more than waiting is walking. I was reminded on this subway trip, in a reprimanding tone, of the afternoon I force-marched them from the east side of Central Park to the west. “We don’t want to have to walk 10 miles today like we did that day.” To set things straight: It was less than a 40-minute walk. I assured them we would be mere steps to Gate 8.
Getting to the Big Ballpark in the Bronx when it opens is a planned thing for most attendees. Our goal: to walk through Monument Park and/or the Yankees Museum before either line snaked around the entire stadium. Given the boys’ mystical ability to make five minutes feel like an hour, we opted for the museum, since we were assured that the line of 20 or so fans in front of us would move quickly.
This is where they failed their second test at whether they have what it takes to be New Yorkers—the ability to wait in line. Their failure was punctuated by constant time checks, loud complaints about aching joints and boredom, collapsing on the filthy ground with heads cradled in hands, and acid reminders of how they’d suffered enough by walking one block. But once inside, 20 minutes later, all was forgotten when they became engrossed in the wall of autographed baseballs.
The game against powerhouse Detroit rippled with suspense, thanks to the Yankees scanty, nail-biting 1-0 lead. Fueled by chicken tenders, fries and waffle cones, the boys’ enthusiasm never waned, even when they realized they wouldn’t get to see their favorite players take the field—Mark Teixeira was recovering from a hand injury and captain Derek Jeter was resting from the game the day before because, as the boys put it, “he’s old.” (Jeter, for the record, just turned 40.)
By nature, I’m not a souvenir stalker, but the boys are. We spent careful time and consideration before, after and during the game checking stores surrounding the stadium as well as the kiosks inside where, to their amazement, the price of a jersey quadrupled. After settling on a pennant and autographed, framed photo of Methuselah Jeter, we headed home, the train ride blissfully quick, thanks to the intoxicating potion of an exhilarating day and exhausted boys.
Lenore Skomal is the award-winning author of 17 books. She can be reached via her website, www.lenoreskomal.net.