A mid-summer dream
The author's seat was perfect for Cone's historic day
Posted: Monday July 16, 2007 12:17PM; Updated: Wednesday July 18, 2007 4:59PM
Editor's note: We asked SI.com writers to share their memories from the best game they've ever seen. Here are their stories:
The sweltering afternoon of July 18, 1999, was Yogi Berra Day in the Bronx, and there was Don Larsen throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to his former battery mate as a re-creation of Larsen's perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. Two hours, sixteen minutes and 27 consecutively retired Montreal Expos later, there was David Cone, collapsing to his knees. Having been on the receiving end of the 16th perfect game in Major League Baseball history, catcher Joe Girardi did his best Berra, embracing his pitcher with a hug before the team engulfed both of them.
The fans in the stands happened upon history that day, and I was one of them. We had settled into Section 18, Row A, seats three and four, just off the third base visitors' dugout at Yankee Stadium, where I sat with my father, Jack, a former peanut vender at the ballpark. From the last game played before the 1994 strike against the Toronto Blue Jays to Don Mattingly Day two years earlier, we had seen a myriad of memorable moments at the Stadium together, but this was different. This wasn't a World Series game or made-for-TV hype fest with the rival Red Sox. This was a mid-summer Saturday afternoon game, when the temperatures reached the mid-90s and we saw the history from the front row.
How we even made our way to such unobstructed viewing was by fortune, not purchasing power. Terry Sullivan, my father's friend since their Bronx days, had originally gotten us tickets to sit in the mezzanine, where we sat for the first three innings. But then Terry also had his brother-in-law with wife and child at the game. When a rain delay came following Cone's striking out of the side in the third inning, they sought higher ground to placate the child, and we suddenly became the benefactors of the best seats in the house.
In the eighth inning, a long-time season ticket holder took his seat behind us. He had been to David Wells' night of perfection 14 months earlier and had been there for Doc Gooden's redemption in 1996. He had even been in attendance for Dave Righetti's Fourth of July spectacular in 1983, and here he was now sitting beside us for the final six outs after speeding from a wedding some 20 miles away in the suburbs because he had to see history in the flesh along with 41,930 fans.
But the sitting would not last for long. For the entire ninth inning, not just the last out, not one fan sat. Not even the cushioned ones in the front row.
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