It was huge for me, because in that winter of 1995, the headlines creamed Joe Torre calling him “Clueless Joe” and it was George Steinbrenner that believed in Joe, no one else. The fans, well, we just wanted a winning season and at that moment, some of us were disappointed that Buck Showalter had to go, yet others thought we didn’t need him around because they felt he didn’t do enough against the Seattle Mariners in the 1995 playoffs. Me? I wanted change, but at the time I didn’t know what that meant.
My wife and I were still dating and it was about a year in and things were great, and slowly but surely she knew I was a Yankee fan. I tried to keep it cool, not fanatical in front of my babe, but just enough. It was about not overdoing it. As the Yankees advanced to the World Series, the cat was out of the bag, I was over-excited. It was huge, we were about to win it all!
So on that October morning, I remember I needed to get a few items at the store, drinks, food and I was planning my entire day around the Yankee game, a historic event. The last World Series the Yankees were in was 1981 against the Dodgers. This was huge for me, because I was able to attend Game 1 at the stadium. I was just a kid with my dad. The Yankees lost that World Series and I was crushed. Now, on October 26, 1996, I knew it wasn’t going to happen again.
“My family is going to a big Haunted House in New York. We should go with them…It should be fun,” She said. I felt my face getting flushed. I was in a dilemma right now and I didn’t know what to do. Do I fake a stomach ache? Do I say I need to go to work?
“Well the Yankees are on tonight, they could clinch.” I said, worried. “Don’t we have a VCR,? just tape it.” Yes, that’s right, VCR. For those of you that don’t know what that is, here is the official definition.
VCR: Electromechanical device that records, stores on a videotape cassette, and plays back on a TV set recorded images and sound. The first commercial VCRs were marketed by Sony Corp. in 1969. VCRs are used to record broadcast TV programs for later viewing and to play commercially recorded cassettes. They have from two to seven tape heads that read and inscribe video and audio tracks on magnetic tape. Home movies can be made with a camcorder system, a VCR connected to a simple video camera.
I caved. Look, you have to understand, she caught me off guard, she’s drop dead gorgeous and she was right, I just have to tape it bro. So I did. What the hell, we can go up to the Haunted House, knock it out and I’ll be back by the 8th inning, why not? Piece of cake.
The ride up was nerve racking but I listened to the game in the car. While everyone was talking about fun we were about to have, I was worrying about Cecil Fielder, Derek Jeter and Charlie Hayes and whether or not we were going to win the damn game. We got to the Haunted House and the line was very very long. I shit myself. “My God, I think I just made a bad bad decision,” I thought. “I don’t even like to be scared, what the hell am I doing here?”
The line luckily had televisions throughout the barn we were walking through, so I saw pieces of the game, but it really just sucked to try and pay attention. The sound was down and people are drunk, walking through the line, talking about how great the haunted house will be. Well, it was great, for them. We got in and to tell you the truth, it’s not my cup of tea, people scaring you, midgets with fake chainsaws. I think there was a lady with no head, I’m not sure, but I swore I saw that as I ran out.
At that point, I was happy. “Let’s go! I need to watch the World Series!” I walked quickly to the car and as I walked in the parking lot, 4 dudes were sitting their car with the door opened and the radio was blasting. Sterling was rattling off play by play with Kay. I realized at that moment, those guys were Yankee fans. I walked over to the car, “Move over,” I said and I sat in the back seat with these guys, I had no idea who they were. Then I heard Sterling scream when Hayes squeezed the foul ball “Hayes, MAKES the Catch!!"
We high-fived each other and I was on my way. I got back in my car and my wife was laughing at me. “Did you know those guys from college or something?” She asked. “No.” I said smiling. “So who were they?” she asked. “Yankee fans, we just won the World Series.” She didn’t get it until we got home and I pressed rewind on the VCR. I watched the last inning. I watched Charlie Hayes catch the last out and I watched the celebration over and over and over again. Wade Boggs was on the horse, the champagne and I cried like a girl for hours by myself. My wife walked in around 2 am and saw me there in the dark watching the whole thing, over and over again. Right then... she got it. She was dating a Yankee fan, a true Yankee fan and she gave me a big hug…before mocking me or course.
I told you this story because every October, I think about it. I’d do absolutely anything for her and that includes going to a haunted house during a clinching World Series game. Yes, baseball matters to me, the Yankees definitely do, but as I’ve said so many times before, my family matters the most.
Telling all of you this story was important to me. Enjoy it, share it, laugh or cry, whatever you want. One thing's for sure though, my wife is the strongest, greatest person in my world and every day only gets better, even if she thinks I’m a baseball nerd, it’s just the way it is.