Tenure? Rickey's Got 16, 17 Years

August 24, 1988
Yankees 7, A’s 6

Growing up, I spent many a summer week enrolled in different YMCA camps in New York (Camp Pouch, Staten Island) and New Jersey (the Metuchen Y).  A few times each summer, the camp would organize a field trip to a Yankees game.  Our parents would pay for a cheap ticket to a day game, and the camp would bus us to the stadium with the counselors trying to watch over a group of kids in the stands.  Pretty much every time, the seats were way up in the upper deck, in fair territory.  (What a difference 20 years makes–today it seems impossible that there would be that many cheap tickets available to a Yankees game, even if it were a daytime game in the middle of the week).

We weren’t overly rambunctious- most of us would follow the games and cheer for the Yankees.  Our favorite [collective] player would be whichever Yankee would acknowledge us.  When we were seated in the left field stands, we’d scream Rickey Henderson‘s name until he waved.  The other times we went, when we were in right field, we’d try shouting at Dave Winfield. Needless to say, Rickey had much more fans just because he had a better track record of acknowledging the kids.

Anyway, this particular game, on August 24 1988, was during the last week of camp.  Our bus was somewhat late leaving the camp- and our driver actually hopped the median right before the George Washington Bridge to get us to the stadium in time.  Before the long trek up to our seats, our counselors took us to the gift shop.  I used what little money I had on me to buy an ’88 Yankees yearbook.  A friend (whose name has long since escaped my memory) used his to buy a portable radio pre-tuned to the AM station which had the Yankees broadcast rights (this minor purchase will come into play later on).

So us camp kids spent the game screaming for Dave Winfield and going unacknowledged. The game was slow, and Oakland scored the first three runs of the game before the Yankees scored on a Claudell Washington groundout (with Rickey scoring the run after stealing second).  The A’s scored another run and the score remained at 4-1 until the eighth.  

After what looked like a comeback started by two singles, Don Slaught hit a sacrifice tie to bring in one run, but the rally was soon killed.  When the eighth ended, the counselors decided it was time to head home. We filed out of the stadium–my group was the first to arrive at the buses right outside, but we had to wait for a few other groups.  

As we left, the Yankees gave up two runs in the top of the ninth, meaning the score was 6-2 going into the Yankees’ last frame.  

We stood outside the bus, getting updates from my friend who had the foresight to buy that little radio.  Suddenly, the fans smart enough to stay were cheering–a Ken Phelps home run tied up the game and Rickey singled in the winning run. Yet most of the kids of the YMCA Camp Pouch were waiting outside the stadium.  It was a good thing there was only one day of camp left that year, because the counselors who made the decision to leave early made the list.  

Even though this one should probably go under the ‘When I Wasn’t There’ category, it was still a fun game.  And I was there for eight innings of it.

Remedy used to work as a vendor at the Stadium- and every now and then he’d get me a shirt or a cap. One of my favorites was a Henderson t-shirt (Interlocking NY on front, name and number on the back)- and I’d get made fun of whenever I wore it to school. Of course, growing up in New York in the mid 80s, I was one of maybe four kids in my school who was a Yankee fan.  I’m just glad YMCA management didn’t send us to Shea.

*The titular line of this entry comes from one of the many great Rickey stories, some of which are available here.

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