Yesterday, my girlfriend Liz and I attended Yankee Stadium for the third time this season. And, all three times, the Yankees have won. Without digging through all my old ticket stubs, I’m relatively certain I’ve never been to a game on July 4th before.
Maybe it’s because I’m older and slightly more jaded than I was as a youngster but I felt as though the tributes to the country on its birthday at the Stadium yesterday were rather lacking. I will, though, say that the woman from West Point who sang the National Anthem and God Bless America (more on this later) had a great voice and brought some life to those songs.
Easily my favorite part of the day was the reading of the Lou Gehrig speech by current Yankees. Though it was recycled, it was still touching. Perhaps showing the whole clip of Gehrig’s speech without anyone else reading would be better, but this still works well. I had to hold back the tears, I’ll admit (“No, babe. It’s just sweat.” An awful lie considering we were shaded in Section 208 until about the 5th inning).
While it was nice to see soldiers scattered throughout the stadium and they got nice hands, it didn’t feel as though there was enough of a reminder that yesterday was the Fourth of July.
Most noticeably absent was a prolonged tribute to The Boss. The display of World Series trophies during the game was a nice subtle reminder of Big Stein’s dominance as an owner, but to put his name on the scoreboard and make mention of it only during the “Fan Marquee” portion of the game seemed wickedly weak to me.
As for the other patriotic mumbo jumbo that was lacking, I think I know why. While I’m generally not a fan of empty patriotism, if there’s a time I’ll allow it, it’s the Fourth of July at a baseball game. But in a Yankee world of God Bless America during every seventh inning stretch, that song has lost any bit of specialness it once had. Sure it’s nice when someone sings it live rather than having to hear the scratchy Kate Smith version, but it’s just not that special. Maybe if the Yankees changed it up, at least for a day, and included America the Beautiful, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, or, hell, even This Land Is Your Land. Perhaps then the day would’ve seemed more Fourth of Julyish. Whatever that truly means. Anyway, a belated Happy Birthday, America.
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