The Yankees Old-Timers’ Day and the FIFA World Cup

The 68th Yankee Old-Timers’ Day was held on Sunday, June 22, 2014. The ceremonies began at 11:30 a.m. with the introduction of about 50 Yankee Old-Timers including Hall-of-Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson, as well as Joe Torre, who will be inducted in the Hall-of-Fame in July of this year. Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, who won a World Series title with the Yankees in 2009, made their Old-Timers’ Day debuts. As each old-timer was introduced they took their position on either the first base or third base foul lines. The honor of being last introduced belonged to the 89-year-old Yogi Berra and the 85-year-old Whitey Ford. The two of them were driven in a car with Yogi in the front seat and Whitey in the back seat. For many years the honor of being introduced last belonged to Joe DiMaggio. There was one exception. In the 1969 Old-Timers’ Day which marked the first year of Mickey Mantle’s retirement, Mickey was introduced after Joe. Stories circulated that DiMaggio told Yankee executives that he would no longer attend Old-Timers Day unless he was introduced last. After the introductions, the traditional Old-Timers’ game was played.  As part of the pre-game ceremonies Hall-of-Famer Rich “Goose” Gossage was honored by the Yankees with a plaque that will be hung in Monument Park.

Joining the Hall-of-Famers and former Yankees on the baselines were the widows of six legendary Yankees-Maggie Coleman, widow of Jerry Coleman; Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson; and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.

On the same day as this year’s Old-Timers’ Day the United States Men’s National Team would play against Portugal in the FIFA World Cup at 5 p.m. Would you believe there is a connection between the Yankees’ Old-Timers’ Day and the FIFA World Cup? The connection is between old-timer former catcher Scott Bradley, who played for the Yankees, White Sox, Mariners and Reds over his nine-year career and his nephew Michael Bradley, a forward on this year’s Men’s National Team. Scott was interviewed about his nephew and the upcoming World Cup game.

Like many children growing up I played soccer in gym classes, but never took soccer seriously. Probably the reason children are introduced to soccer at an early age is unlike the game of baseball where a great deal of hand and eye coordination is necessary to hit a baseball with a bat; it does not take much skill to be able to kick a ball. Also, soccer is a source of healthy exercise for children at any age.

This brings me to my attraction to the FIFA World Cup. Many Americans, including professional athletes, have joined me in a new attraction to the game of soccer. Yes, professional soccer, the MLS League, trails in popularity in the United States to the four major professional leagues, the NFL, the MLB, the NBA, and the NHL. Yet, Americans have grown to love this year’s National Team. The TV ratings for the game between the US and Portugal were higher than the World Series and the NBA Finals. Probably the reason for the TV ratings being so high is if your team is not in the World Series you tend to lose interest; however, for the World Cup an American person’s team is America.

The US team blew a 2-1 lead in the last few minutes of the match and wound up tying Portugal. If they had kept their lead they would have advanced to the round of 16. This brings us to Thursday’s game against Germany. Even though I acknowledge a lack of understanding of the rules and strategies in soccer, I am looking forward to the game against Germany. If the US wins that game they will advance to the next round. Even if they tie they could still advance.

Go US Go!!!

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