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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

September 22, 2008 at 7:00 PM

Mel Stottlemyre wishes…

…he could have been at Yankee Stadium Sunday night to see the finale at the grand ol’ ballpark, but he had a job to do as Mariners pitching coach and could only catch a little bit of the game on TV.
Stottlemyre spent 11 seasons as player with the Yankees (1964-1974) and got to five World Series as the Yankees’ pitching coach from 1996-2005.
“It’s going to be hard to imagine Yankee Stadium being gone,” he said. “I was there when they renovated it after the ’73 season. But this is a little different…It will take a while for the people of New York to realize they have a new stadium. My thoughts are different too. A lot of good thoughts there at Yankee Stadium.”
Which brings me to my recollections of the place. I went to Yankee Stadium for the Mariners-Yankees ALCS in 2001, the one five weeks or so after 9/11. What an experience. I had a video camera and got tape of the monuments in center field. I walked with the fans after the Yankees’ decisive Game 5 win down the old corridors as Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” echoed throughout, the jubilant fans singing along with every word. It was their way, almost, of healing after the great tragedy that had hit their city.
I’ll never forget it. That series was emotionally charged. The games were at night, and so one day I went with a co-worker on the subway toward Ground Zero. The last stop was about five blocks from where the towers once stood. We came up from underground and there was still that smell of charred buildings and ash in the air. It was so quiet.
Looking back, I’m so glad I made that trip. I was part of the team of Times guys covering the series and it was among the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had. All of those thoughts came to me as I watched Sunday night. I can say that I was blessed to have been there before.

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