I never wanted to be one of those old people who say things like “I remember a time when…” but this ticket buying nonsense at Yankee Stadium has me all riled up.
So here I go.
I remember a time not too very long ago before cell phones and pagers and even before answering machines when we would call our friends at work because that was the one place we knew we could reach each other. Back then I was living in Hoboken and my good friend Donna was living in Montclair, and we were, then as now, Yankee fans. And one of us would call the other at work and say “Hey, wanna go see a game tonight?” And it was that easy.
Of course, that was in the dark years between 1978 and 1996 when we celebrated if the Yanks finished the season one game over .500. But even last year, the very last year that the House the Ruth Built was open for business, I was able to easily and somewhat affordably purchase tickets to the last Tuesday night game ever played, the fifth-to-the-last game ever at the renovated original Yankee Stadium , and I did it just two days before the game. But I digress – I was talking about the good old days. I will kvetch (because old people don’t bitch, they kvetch) about the new days later on.
Donna and I would do what fans have been doing since time immemorial – we would meet at the bat, the giant Louisville Slugger that towered over the plaza near Gate 4. From there we would go to either the little red ticket booths, or then when they closed, to the blue ticket booth shoots right at the gates. These booths were staffed by men who were already middle aged when Gerhig gave his “Today (today today today), I consider myself (consider myself sider myself), the luckiest man (man man) on the face (facefaceface) of this Earth (this earth earth), so by the time Donna and I showed up in 1985, these men were ancient. I mean old as crap. Nearly blind, and almost always deaf. And they held your fate in their hands.
We would survey the lines, watching to see whose line was slower. A slow line could simply mean that the all but comatose man inside was just slow as molasses (and yes, they were always men, it was what it was and I am not in the mood to discuss women’s rights at this moment – right now I am bitching, er, I mean kvetching about tickets to a stupid baseball game), but a slow line could also mean that the nonagenarian housed within was actually taking the time to find the very best seats for his anxious fans. We always chose the slowest line.
When we arrived at the Plexiglas window, each clutching a five-dollar bill (with another in our pockets that would buy us a beer and a hot dog, and maybe some Cracker Jack), we would smile our best twentysomething smile and say “Do you have anything on the first base side for $4.25?” and then we would wait, hoping one of us reminded him of either his great, great granddaughter or his first girlfriend. And also hoping he liked his great, great granddaughter or his first girlfriend. The little man in the booth would reach for a stack of rubber-banded tickets and he would thumb through them like a deck of cards, making that thhhhhffffttt sound. And then he would stop suddenly, remove two tickets from the three inch thick stack and say “How about first row loge, box 421?” JACKPOT!
Sometimes we got a mean old man who resented Reaganomics and the fact that he still had to work at the age of 94, so we got really bad seats, buried in the middle of a 45 seat row with nothing but drunken blue collar Jersey boys all around us. That was great for Donna, who would spend the entire game flirting, but for the person with the walnut sized bladder and no interest in any men at the game other than the pin-striped ones, it meant pissing off a bunch of construction workers every other inning as I "excuse me, pardon me" 'd my way to the end of the very long row.
But the point I am trying to make, and not doing a very good job of it, I may add, is that if we wanted to go to a game, we simply went. And it cost us no more than $15 including our train ride. Less of we brought a submarine sandwich with us. It was a fine way to entertain ourselves well within our budget.
But today, well today I wanted to look into getting tickets for the Yankees at their new stadium. But apparently, here, one short month away from opening day, single game tickets are not yet on sale. But I discovered that there is a plan for buying single game tickets, a plan I didn’t know about. No one told me about it. Apparently I was supposed to register to be a part of a lottery. If I were chosen at random in that lottery, I would then be allowed to try and purchase tickets online. Try, but there is no guarantee. Try. But I missed the deadline by 34 minutes to register for the lottery that may or may not lead to tickets , so I was told that if there were any left after the lottery winners have at them, then they would be put out for sale. And if I do manage to snag a seat, it will cost me about $75. That’s right, seventy-five dollars. Per seat. Way out near the foul pole. Seventy Five US dollars.
The average salary in New York City in 1985 was $20,000. Today it is $80,000. That means that my seat at the stadium should be $17, based on what it was in 1985. But no, it is $75. Parking is another $30, a hot dog, beer and Cracker Jack runs another $22. So for just $127, I can go to a game! Oh wait, no I can’t – because I didn’t register for the lottery to be considered to have a chance at being one of the people who tries to buy tickets. Alas.
What happened to us? And how to we get back? I am starting on the time tunnel tomorrow. I’ll let you all know when it is done and we can go back to 1985 when there were only 18,000 people in a stadium that held 50,000, when boys with names like Mattingly, Henderson, Winfield and Righetti played a game in a place that that was hallowed, a place where cheers and boos alike lingered long after the fans left for the season. I remember that place. That place may be gone soon, but not from my heart. So my heart will get to keep the memory while the Yankees get to keep the contents of my wallet, assuming I even get a ticket.
Copyright (c) 2009 Leslie R Becker