Rainout leaves fans wanting more
Plenty of pretzels, but no baseball, on day of postponement
NEW YORK -- Sloshing out of Yankee Stadium in raincoats and ponchos on Monday, even some of the city's most ardent Yankees fans couldn't help but be a bit disappointed. In what was to be the final Opening Day at the Stadium, fans experienced none of the afternoon's advertised glories and none of its expected baseball memories. Just rain.
"There wasn't anything that was going to keep me from coming out here today, that's for sure," said Keith Padin, 33, of Shelton, Conn. "As soon as it was announced that this would be the last year in the current Stadium, you stay online all day long, you're on the phone trying to get tickets. You find a way to get here."
Then you find a way to get home. Padin was among the many fans who commuted all morning to make it into the Bronx, only to turn right around again just hours later. The Yankees and Blue Jays never made it out onto the field.
"It's just not fun to go through," general manager Brian Cashman said. "You know the fans are out there."
For these Yankees, Monday was -- in classic Opening Day fashion -- a new beginning. Pregame ceremonies were to dazzle Yankee Stadium's final Opening Day crowd, and legend Reggie Jackson was to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Everything the Yankees couldn't accomplish last year was to be forgotten, replaced by a new season.
Chien-Ming Wang and Roy Halladay, two of the American League's most successful starters, were to pitch against one another, in a rightly anticipated game. And new Yankees manager Joe Girardi was to make his official return to the Stadium.
For now, though, all of the emotions and all of the butterflies would have to wait.
Perhaps it didn't have to be like this, either. When bitter cold swept over the Northeast throughout the first two weeks of last season, Johnny Damon was outspoken about moving all Opening Day games to warm-weather climates. He certainly hadn't changed his opinion on those matters, so Monday afternoon gave him a bit of vindication.
"Is it raining or snowing up there in Toronto right now?" he asked, aware that the rainout would force his Yankees to play 20 straight games without an off-day. "That very easily could have been avoided, but that's how the schedule was planned. It's OK. We'll get through it, but there are a couple of domes sitting empty right now."
So instead, thousands of fans filtered out of a soggy stadium -- some grumbling, others hopeful. They had their fill of hot dogs and pretzels, sure, but not their fill of baseball. The Yankees did their best to accommodate, rescheduling Monday's game for 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday, a time that they hoped would be both dry and convenient.
"[Tuesday], we have to take another day off of work, which is obviously another commitment that hurts us," said Anthony Gargano, 29, of Easton, Conn. "I took a personal day today, so it's kind of suspicious if I call in sick tomorrow."
Gargano, attending the game with his two brothers, sat through the rain all morning, listening to the encouraging weather reports but never quite knowing what to believe.
"It's such a special day," he said. "You'll do everything you can to get here. We went out of our way to get tickets to this game, so now in order to not feel like I lost out, I'm probably going to have to take another day off tomorrow."
He wasn't alone in his anticipation for a game that Yankees captain Derek Jeter called "a special one." Yankee Stadium has been in use since 1923 and has seen more than its fair share of Opening Day moments -- from Babe Ruth's first home run there to Mickey Mantle's debut to Hideki Matsui's welcome-to-the-big-leagues grand slam.
Monday's game might have provided another one of those classic Opening Days, or one last debut moment. Now, all of it will simply have to wait until Tuesday. Even if some fans won't make it and the rest might need umbrellas, the atmosphere will remain.
"I guess it's a price you've got to pay," Gargano said. "There will be no other Opening Day at Yankee Stadium like there was today. It's all good, though. It's the Yankees."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.