Two weeks ago I took you on a virtual tour of New York City with Steve Allen’s family and mine. Last week, we had just arrived at Yankee Stadium to take in a game between the Yankees and the Mets. If you remember, we had seats in the non-alcoholic family section out in the right centerfield bleachers.
As I mentioned last week, there seemed to be only a handful of folks who hadn’t got plastered before they entered the DRY section of the ballpark.
Before going any further, I must remind you that one of the nicknames for the ballpark in the past was the Bronx Zoo. Maybe this story will bring light upon that nickname.
As fate would have it, our two families took our seats directly behind the ringleader of the entire crowd. The man sitting directly in front of us looked somewhat like Stone Cold Steve Austin, the wrestler. He was a big man with a head as slick as a bowling ball. As a matter of fact, I begin to think he looked even more like Mr. Clean, the bald guy on the bottle of cleaning fluid.
It was just seconds later that everyone in the section starting referring to him as Mr. Clean. That was his official moniker. Clean led the bleachers in every cheer. First, he and his legion of thousands would serenade every Yankee player when they took the field for the top of the first inning. They would keep this up until each player would doff his cap and acknowledge them. Every Yankee player acknowledged Clean and his buddies shoutouts. It all seemed pretty innocent – except for the profane chants and limericks that the fans were yelling – until ...
Why did they have to sit next to us? Zeke was the last one in our row. They sat right beside him. Who? It was a young guy in his 20s with his good-looking girlfriend.
Two problems. One, the girl had on a Mets jersey. Two, she had a stuffed monkey slung around her neck, and it had on a Mets jersey. This was not good. Immediately, the banter began between the entire section and the newly-arrived Mets fans. It became more ugly and intense as the game wore on. People began tossing small objects at the guy and girl. It was at this time that I changed seats with Zeke so as to keep him out of harms way.
Meanwhile, violence is running rampant throughout our
non-alcoholic family section. There were seven fights through the first three innings of the game severe enough that the cops had to eject people. One of the most interesting was the one where the drunk adult male Yankeee fan got into an argument with a female African American cop. At some point, the guy decided it would be a good idea to reach out and smack the lady wearing the badge. BAD IDEA! He is probably still recovering from his bruises. She and about six of her fellow officers were on that guy like a duck on a June bug.
Back to the Mets fans and the monkey. As things grew more and more hostile, the male Mets fan reached his boiling point. The guy stood up and took a wad of money out of his pocket. He must have had 200 one-dollar bills. He began throwing them at the Yankees fans and shouting, “Here, take this money and buy you some more players.” This was all surreal.
As I was trying to comprehend what was happening, the scene was becoming chaotic. Fans were scrambling for this free money that was suddenly raining down from the sky. It was then that I felt something brush across my feet. To my surprise, I looked down and my young son Zeke was picking up dollar bills as quickly as he could.
Then, there was a whistle. The cops were coming toward us. For what, you ask? They were coming to throw the Mets fan, his girlfriend and her stuffed money out of the game. Apparently there is a rule that you can’t just throw cash out in the stands. The man was inciting a riot. So the last thing we saw of the Mets fans was him, her and her monkey slowly walking out of the section. They were thoughtful folks, though. They turned and gave us all a one-finger salute before they went out of sight. Even the monkey saluted us.
As soon as the seventh inning started, Mr. Clean abruptly got up and started to leave. Someone yelled, “Clean where you going?” He responded, “Got to go man. Got to get up at 3:00 and go to work.” The other fan yelled back, “Who are you, the milkman?” Clean replied, “As a matter of fact, I am. You are looking at one of the last real live milkmen. I deliver milk to houses for a living. Got to start early. See ya.”
The game finally ended and we made our way to the subway. As we waited for the train, we heard screaming across the way. It was hard to tell what was going on, but we knew it wasn’t good. A girl was either trying to jump in front of a train or push another to her demise. It looked like a championship game of tug of war. Transit officials were changing shifts and walking by like nothing was happening. Several people around us were trying to call 911. Fortunately, no one was hurt, or at least not while we were there.
Needless to say, it was one interesting night at the ballpark, one that I will surely never forget. Probably the most chilling comment that I heard all night was the following.
As I left the stadium, I spoke to a policeman and said, “Sir, I can’t believe the atmosphere and how rough it was in there. Is it always like that?” The policeman simply smiled and replied, “You should be here when the Red Sox come to town.”
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to email@example.com.