NEW YORK -- Reality hadn't yet sunk in for
Today, however, upon seeing just one section of the façade still standing, Steinbrenner, the team's managing general partner, said, "It finally hit me."
But the Yankees are only tearing down the old ballpark after having proved the new one could be a winner, too, which was reinforced before their home opener, as the 2009 World Series banner was raised and each member of the organization was presented with his championship ring by Hall of Famers
New York punctuated its celebratory day with a 7-5 victory over the Angels before a sellout crowd of 49,293, the largest regular season attendance in the young stadium's history.
"It's a transition," Steinbrenner said, "and this one's going as smoothly as possible."
To say the least.
Last year's season and stadium opener was a clunker of a loss, a 10-2 rout to the hapless Indians. For the season's first month the dominant conversations about the Yankees focused on the empty, overpriced seats in the first few rows -- the ones on the interior of the so-called "moat," a wide walkway separating the have-a-lots and the have-a-little-lesses -- and the overabundance of home runs, particularly to right field.
The Yankees (and New York taxpayers) had spent $3 billion -- roughly half on payroll and half on the new stadium -- since the club's last World Series title in 2000, a virtual eternity by its own lofty standards.
What a difference a year makes. Until the contracts of shortstop
This day was entirely about the heartwarming new chapter that's been added to Yankee lore (at least until reliever
"Quite frankly, he was almost speechless," Hal Steinbrenner said of his father, upon the presentation from the manager and the captain.
Incidentally, after George Steinbrenner was shown on the video scoreboard prior to the bottom of the third inning, Jeter powered a home run to right-center field on the third pitch of the inning. Go Blue, indeed.
But as much as the pomp and circumstance of the day was about adding another championship notch for Steinbrenner, Jeter,
It was the first title with Steinbrenner's sons, Hal and Hank, calling the shots and the first title for superstars
It was also the first for a host of key other key contributors like
Hairston went 1-for-2 in the Padres' home opener at 3:30 p.m. Pacific time yesterday, then took a 9:30 red-eye that landed in New York at 6 a.m. After receiving his World Series ring, he was due to get on a 6 p.m. flight back to the West Coast.
"I'm going to get tired just talking about my travel plans," Hairston said, "[but] I would love to see somebody have a better 12 hours. I'm the first in my family to win a World Series ring, so I know how rare it is."
After the game Rodriguez noted that it took 17 years of hard work from the day he was drafted to the day he received his first World Series ring, and he was thus all too happy to bring his ring to his postgame press conference and try it on before a score of photographers.
"Some guys say they're not going to wear them, that they're too cool," Rodriguez said. "I call BS on that. I'm going to wear it everyday. If they'd have let me, I was going to wear it to third [base]. I guess that would have broken the rules."
But for all the struggles the players have had in acquiring this first championship, Swisher suggested a foolproof plan for ensuring future World Series titles.
"In the first year that the old Yankee Stadium opened up [in 1923], they won a World Series," Swisher said. "In the first year of the new Yankee Stadium, we won a World Series. If they build another one, we'll win another one."