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Yankee Stadium: Baseball’s Cathedral (DVD Review)

22 Jun, 2008 By: John Latchem

Yankee Stadium

Street 7/1/08
Shout! Factory
$26.99 DVD
Not rated.
Narrated by Chazz Palminteri.

If baseball were a religion, and in America some might say it is, then its stadiums are its houses of worship — a collection of 30 grand venues considered sacred ground to the fans.

The coming end of Yankee Stadium stirs up mixed emotions for me. As a lifelong Dodgers fan, I can’t help but think of the old ballpark as the source of so much heartbreak for my favorite team, constantly defeated by the Bronx Bombers in the World Series. That most of this history occurred before I was born does not alter my perspective, nor should any baseball fan be similarly deterred.

And yet, the Dodgers clinched their lone championship in Brooklyn, in 1955, on the field of Yankee Stadium. The Los Angeles Dodgers polished off their 1981 title in Yankee Stadium. There is simply no denying the significance of Yankee Stadium in the annals of baseball history, a fact any true fan of the sport would appreciate.

This terrific retrospective on Yankee Stadium covers all the bases, if you’ll excuse the pun, from opening day in 1923 to opening day in 2008, its final year. The Yankees will move into a new ballpark across the street in 2009.

This is the story of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Thurman Munson. The story of game-winning home runs, perfect games and unprecedented championship accomplishments. The documentary reminds us of the most memorable moments in the stadium’s history, but does so out of chronological order, which strengthens the timelessness of the memories.

This isn’t just a baseball story, either. The documentary includes segments on visits from three different Popes. Yankee Stadium also hosted the 1958 NFL Championship, in which the Baltimore Colts upended the New York Giants in an overtime game that some credit with putting the NFL in the national consciousness for the first time.

The program also previews the new stadium, which combine the traditional elements of the original stadium with modern features incorporated during a two-year renovation in the 1970s. The presentation effectively casts the new ballpark as a continuation of the legacy of the old, though it seems almost inconceivable the new stadium can find its way into baseball lore with the same prestige.

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