Yankees, Hall talk Cathedral artifacts
Cooperstown ballpark section features Yankee Stadium items
NEW YORK -- Security officials at Yankee Stadium will be diligent in making sure that everything nailed down in "The House That Ruth Built" remains that way during Sunday's final game at the 85-year-old Bronx landmark. The desire to take home something for a souvenir will be strong among those in attendance, that's for sure.
One place that will likely get its share of artifacts from the Stadium is the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which currently is in negotiations with the Yankees about items that will be on display in the future in Cooperstown, N.Y. The Hall's mission includes preserving the game's history, and no ballpark has been more historic than the Stadium, which was the site of 37 World Series, four All-Star Games and numerous other major events in and out of sports.
These talks are serious enough that the negotiations are in the hands of Hall president Jeff Idelson and Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost. Idelson, a former public relations director for the Yankees, will attend Sunday night's festivities.
The Hall has a special section of the museum devoted to ballparks that already features items from Yankee Stadium as well as two other New York ballparks long gone, the Polo Grounds, former home of the Giants, that used to sit across the Harlem River in upper Manhattan, and Ebbets Field, former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, in Flatbush.
Brad Horn, senior director of communications and education at the Hall, said that the museum already has some items from Yankee Stadium's closeout season. The No. 42 jersey worn by Mariano Rivera in the All-Star Game was donated by the Yankees closer in July.
Just last week, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter donated the cleats he wore Tuesday night, Sept. 16, when he got two singles to set the record for hits at the Stadium. Jeter's first hit, in the first inning, was his 1,270th at home, passing Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig to become the all-time hits leader in the park's history, a record that cannot be broken.
"It's great to have anything displayed in the Hall of Fame," Jeter said. "It's something you consider an honor. Then to be alongside a player such as Lou Gehrig, it goes without saying that it's a pretty special feeling."
"The Yankees have been extremely generous with the Hall of Fame over the years," Horn said.
Gehrig's old locker was donated to the Hall in 1939, the year the museum opened. Babe Ruth's old locker has been at the Hall since 1948, the year of the Bambino's death. In 1968, the Yankees donated a chair used by James Farley, the former Postmaster General in President Franklin Roosevelt's administration, where he sat along the first-base line.
When the original Stadium was shut down for a two-year renovation after the 1973 season, the Yankees made sure the Hall of Fame received some items. They included a set of stairs, four Stadium seats, 12 box seats from behind the plate, a bat rack, a ticket booth, two turnstiles and generic lockers.
Viewing such items on display in Cooperstown has given visitors a taste of the old Stadium. Now the Hall hopes to do the same with artifacts from the renovated Stadium that turns its lights off Sunday night for the last time.