A Travellerspoint blog


Jim Colyer does the dinosaur thing.

I spent two days in Manhattan in October, 1984. My first stop was Dinosaur Hall in The American Museum of Natural History. The Museum sits out by Central Park. Dinosaur-mania was talking hold. I saw Tyrannosaurus, Brontosaurus, Triceratops and Stegasaurus. Fossilized eggs added credibility to the existence of these creatures. I attended a show at the Hayden Planetarium inside the Museum.

My second day began at the top of The World Trade Center (the one without the tower). I looked down at The Statue of Libery snug within its scaffold. It was being rennovated. Since 9/11, I have imagined what it might have been like standing on the observation deck as a hijacked plane flew into you. 9/11 happened 17 years after I stood there. It showed the perpetrators hated all Americans, not white or back, Republicans or Democrats. Any of us could have been in those buildings on that day.

From the Towers, I hoofed it to Wall Street. The street was short. It was nearly deserted, but it was Sunday. I learned George Washington was inaugurated here in 1789.

The bus took me back up the Avenue of the Americas to Midtown. I saw the gold leaf statue of Prometheus against the backdrop of the RCA Building. In Greek mythology, Titan Prometheus taught man how to use fire. The statue depicts him descending from Mount Olympus encirled by the Zodiac. I wanted to see The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall but they were not performing. I watched a Presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale.

The morning before I left, I rode a bus out 42nd Street to the United Nations. I entered the building but did not take the tour. There was a protest against Ronald Reagan which rubbed me the wrong way. I glimpsed the N.Y.P.L. (library) and Madison Square Garden before heading back to Nashville.

April, August, 1974 - New York state

On truck with Chester. We went to Erie, Pennsylvania and across upstate New York, Rochester and Syracuse. We spent a night in Binghamton.

December, 1970 - Philadelphia & New York City

In Philadelphia, I gazed through the windows of Independence Hall at The Liberty Bell. In New York, I ascended the Empire State Building and blitzed through Greenwich Village and Times Square by night. I was in the Army and made these trips with two guys from Valley Forge Hospital in Phoenixville, PA. It was cold and windy in New York. My saucer hat blew off at the top of The Empire State Building. I chased it down before it blew over the edge.

JIM COLYER http://www.jimcolyer.com
Contact: jim@jimcolyer.com

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Jim Colyer up east

My parents and I journeyed to my sister's house in Nashua, New Hampshire in September, 1987. We spent time in Massachusetts. The trip marked my first real experience in New England

From Nashua, the ride down to Boston is a short one. We wasted no time getting to the suburbs of Lexinton and Concord. This is where the American Revolution began in 1775. We drove by Lexington Green and proceeded along the battle route to the Minute Man statue and the North Bridge, famous for "the shot heard 'round the world." The resistance here caused the inevitable break with England.

"We are standing at the heart of American history," I thought. Thoreau's cabin on Walden Pond was nearby.

In Boston, we took in the Old North Church and Paul Revere's home. It was two lanterns that were hung in the church's steeple, indicating the enemy was approaching by sea. The British planned to confuscate some ammunition stored at Concord. A friend of Paul Revere's flashed the signal. Revere was a goldsmith.

We took in the New England Aquarium by Boston Harbor

JIM COLYER http://www.jimcolyer.com

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Jim and Michael Colyer at Churchill Downs

In all of horse racing, 3 races matter. They are the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. They make up racing's Triple Crown. Of all the thoroughbred horses, only 11 matter. They are the 11 who have won the Triple Crown. In order, these horses are Sir Barton 1919, Gallant Fox 1930, Omaha, 1935, War Admiral 1937, Whirlaway 1941, Count Fleet 1943, Assault 1946, Citation 1948, Secretariat 1973, Seattle Slew 1977 and Affirmed 1978. There were 3 Triple Crown Winners in the 1930's, 4 in the 1940's and 3 in the 1970's. A horse is a horse. Even though I have their pictures on the site, you could put any name on any horse and I would not know the difference.

1919 Sir Barton - Sir Barton was the first Triple Crown winner. This was before the races were called the Triple Crown. It was recognized as a great feat. Sir Barton was upstaged by Man o' War. Man o' War beat Sir Barton by 7 lengths in a match race. Man o' War won the Preakness and the Belmont in 1920. He missed the Kentucky Derby because his owner, Samuel Riddle, thought Churchill Downs was too far west. Man o' War won 20 of 21 races. He was beaten by a horse called Upset by 1/2 length. He beat Upset 6 times. Man o' War was known as Big Red. He was a big horse with a voracious appetite. He was popular, the Babe Ruth of horses. He once went off at 1-100. He did well at stud. War Admiral was one of his progeny. Man o' War lived to be 30. He is the greatest thoroughbred of all time even if he did not win the Triple Crown.

1930 Gallant Fox - Gallant Fox was the second Triple Crown winner. He sired a Triple Crown winner, Omaha.

1935 Omaha - "Sunny Jim" Fitzsimmons trained Omaha. His horses won 2,275 races.

1937 War Admiral - War Admiral won 21 of 26 races. Like Sir Barton, he is remembered for losing a match race to a more popular horse. Seabiscuit beat him by 4 lengths. Samuel Riddle owned War Admiral. He ran him in the Kentucky Derby to avoid the mistake he made with Man o' War.

1941 Whirlaway - Whirlaway was owned by Calumet Farm and was the first of Calumet's 8 Kentucky Derby and 2 Triple Crown winners. Whirlaway was ridden by Eddie Arcaro. He became the third Triple Crown winner to lose a match race. He lost to Alsab by a nose.

1943 Count Fleet - Count Fleet won 16 of 21. The Belmont Stakes was his last race. An ankle injury ended his career.

1946 Assault - Assault stepped on a stake as a foal. His right fore hoof was malformed. He was called the Clubfooted Comet. He was sterile. He raced til he was 7.

1948 Citation - Citation was Calumet Farm's second Triple Crown winner. Eddie Acaro was his jockey. Citation won 32 of 45 races and became horse racing's first millionaire. He was one of the 3 greatest horses and the last Triple Crown winner for 25 years.

1973 Secretariat - Secretariat was a phenomenon, one of the 3 greatest with Man o' War and Citation. I was at Churchill Downs when he won the Kentucky Derby. I bet $75 on him to show. I was cautious because of the way horses had burned me. You can not trust them. Secretariat was owned by Penny Tweedy. Ron Turcott was the jockey. Secretariat set a record for the Derby. He ran the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59-2/5. That record stands. Secretariat is the only horse to run the Derby in under 2 minutes. It was in the Belmont Stakes that he attained immortality. He won by 31 lengths, destroying Sham. Secretariat set a record for the Belmont, running the 1 1/2 miles in 2:24. He was explosive. On a good day, he would have beaten Man o' War. Both ran 21 races. Man o' War won 20 to Secretariat's 16. Secretariat was a beautiful horse and the darling of Baby Boomers. That Onion beat him proved no horse is infallible. Ron Turcott later fell from a horse and was paralysed.

1977 Seattle Slew - By 1977, I was living in Tennessee where there is no horse racing. I was lucky. Still, I knew Seattle Slew was a strong horse. He went off 1-to-2 in the Derby. He was Horse of the Year in 1977. He raced as a 4-year-old and beat Affirmed twice. Seattle slew sired Swale, the 1984 Derby winner. A man I worked with saw the humor when Swale dropped dead of a heart attack.

1978 Affirmed - Affirmed can not be mentioned without Alydar. Theirs was the greatest rivalry in racing history. They met 10 times. Affirmed won 7. He was disqualified in their last meeting. Affirmed beat Alydar by 1-1/2 lengths in the Kentucky Derby and by a neck in the Preakness. In the Belmont, the rivals ran side by side through the stretch. At the wire, it was Affirmed by a head. I was at Churchill Downs when Affirmed won the Derby. I drove up from Tennessee. I knew nothing about the two horses. Someone told be to bet Alydar because of Calumet Farm. I lost $280 that day, hard earned money. It would be 15 years before I returned to the track and when I did, it was with my father and son. I let Michael bet $2 a race for 4 races to show him no one beats the horses. Affirmed went on to become the first $2 million winner. Alydar did better at stud and got the last laugh.

Michael and I went to the 2005 Kentucky Derby. We were in the infield. He did not care for the mob and wants to sit in the stands next time.

The 3-year-old classics:

The Kentucky Derby is run at Churchill Downs in Lousville, Kentucky, the first Saturday in May. It is the Run for the Roses. Churchill Downs opened in 1875. It was named after two brothers who owned the land. The Twin Spires became its symbol. Lists of Derby contenders appear each year in February.

The Preakness Stakes is run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The flowers are Black-Eyed Susans.

The Belmont Stakes is run at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It is located on Long Island. The flowers are white carnations.
Thoroughbred horses descended from 3 Arab stallions brought to England over 300 years ago. Thoroughbreds can run 40 miles an hour.

Kentucky Derby 1 1/4 mile
Preakness 1 3/16 mile
Belmont 1 1/2 mile. Belmont Park has the only 1 1/2 mile dirt track in the world.
Contact: jim@jimcolyer.com

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Jim and Michael Colyer in the Bronx

The Yankees began as the New York Highlanders in 1903. Cy Young threw a no-hitter against them in 1908. The Highlanders became the Yankees in 1913. "Yankees" was an Indian word for the English in the early days of America. When the Indians tried to say "English," it came out, "Yankees."

Yankee Stadium opened in 1923 in the Bronx. It is a wonder of the modern world. The short porch in right field was designed for Babe Ruth and the Yankees' lefthanded hitters. Ruth homered in the first game played at the Stadium. The mythical Curse of the Bambino began when Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to Jacob Ruppert's Yankees before the 1920 season for $100,000. It was 86 years before Boston won another World Series. In that span, the Yankees won 26 championships. The Curse ended in 2004.

The New York Yankees dominated baseball for 40 years. Yankee history can be divided into 5 eras, those of (1) Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig, (2) Joe DiMaggio, (3) Mickey Mantle, (4) George Steinbrenner and (5) Joe Torre.

Babe Ruth was a god. He won 96 games as a pitcher with a 2.28 Earned Run Average before moving to the outfield. He hit more home runs in a season than other teams. For the steroids generation to match that, a player would have to hit 200 home runs in one year. Ruth did not look like an athlete. He loved to party. His 60 home runs in 1927 and 714 total were records that stood through baseball's golden age. Ruth's home runs to at bats ratio stands to this day.

Lou Gehrig, for all his greatness, played in the shadow of Ruth. Gehrig fell short of the 500 home run club with 493. He finished with 1,995 RBIs. Had he not become ill, his numbers would have been greater. Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive games, a record which stood until Cal Ripken. Lou Gehrig demonstrated his courage when he called himself the luckiest man alive.

The Yankees won the World Series 5 years in a row between 1949 and 1953 under manager Casey Stengel. I have no memory of it. It was my dad's era. My dad named Lou Gehrig as his favorite player but spoke more of Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio hit safely in 56 consecutive games in 1941, the same year Ted Williams batted .406. Williams missed 3 years of his prime because of World War II, then served in Korea. He was the third greatest hitter of all time after Ruth and Gehrig. Guys like Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, who landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day, and Hank Bauer, who was on Okinawa, saved our country. They saved the world.

Chester Colyer was my dad. He became a Yankee fan during the 1936 World Series. He picked the Yankees. His brother, Leo, picked the New York Giants. The Yankees won the Series 4 games to 2. My dad followed them the rest of his life.

The first World Series I remember was 1954. It was the Cleveland Indians versus the Giants. My dad was for the Indians because they were in the American League. For no apparent reason, I was for the Giants. The Giants swept the Series.

By 1956, I was firmly with the Yankees. 1956 was the year of Mickey Mantle. Mantle was born in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, October 20, 1931. His father, Mutt Mantle, taught him to switch hit and groomed him for a major league career. Mickey grew up working in the mines. He was gifted with exceptional speed and athletic prowess. He sustained an injury playing high school football, then stepped on a drain in centerfield in the 1951 World Series. Injuries sapped his talents by age 36. Mantle replaced the beloved DiMaggio in centerfield, no easy task. He was booed incessantly through the 1950s, even in Yankee Stadium. It made no sense. I was 10 years old. The boos were indicative of the coming generation gap of the 1960s. Mantle was the hero of baby boomers. The boos came from fans who remembered Gehrig and DiMaggio and resented Mantle's advance publicity and perhaps his humble beginnings. They insisted he hit a home run everytime.

Mickey Mantle broke through in 1956. He won the Triple Crown, leading the American League with 52 home runs, 130 runs batted in and a batting average of .353. His home runs were Gargantuan. It seemed like everyday that summer, the sports page showed his latest tape-measure shot. I was collecting baseball cards. My prize was my 1956 Mickey Mantle, the only one I ever saw. When my black sheep cousin stole it from my room, I cried unconsolably. Mantle went on to hit .365 in 1957.

I started playing baseball in 1956. I played second base and wore Mantle's number 7. My dad and his brother, Buck, sponsered a team made up of Colyer cousins. Our team was called C&R Colyer after the trucking business my dad and uncle owned. Cousin Larry was on first. I was on second. Duke (Jerry) played third. Bobby caught. Ronnie was in the outfield. We played behind Middletown Elementary school east of Louisville. We won, and the league resented us. We were champions in 1958 and 1959. I was small and liked to bunt. Being on the family team, I played to win.

I took the Yankees' loss to Pittsburgh in the 1960 World Series hard. I was in the 9th grade and in health class. I laid my head on the desk to hide the tears. I would rather lose with the Yankees than win with anyone else. Once you root for the Yankees, you can never root for another team. Like Billy Martin said, "I am a Yankee!" It is not the city. It is the great tradition of the only team in sports that matters.

The New York Yankees came back with a vengeance in 1961. The 1961 Yankees rank with 1927's Murderer's Row and the 1998 team as the 3 greatest. The 1961 team beat the Cinncinati Reds in the World Series four games to one. Bill Skowron was at first, Bobby Richardson at second, Tony Kubek at shortstop. Elston Howard caught as Berra moved to left field. Whitey Ford went 25-4 with an E.R.A. of 3.21 and got the Cy Young Award. Ford had a great curve ball and was one of the coolest pitchers to play the game.

All pitchers are measured against Cy Young. Cy won 511 games between 1890 and 1911. In those years, a team had only 2 or 3 starting pitchers, and they were expected to complete games. Relief pitching is a modern specialty.

1961 featured the home run race between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle and their attempt to break Babe Ruth's record of 60. By then, Mantle was accepted in New York. Maris was the outsider. Mantle was sidelined and in the hospital as the season drew to a close. He finished with 54 homers. Maris kept hitting them. The commissioner of baseball issued a statement that if Maris broke Ruth's record after 154 games, the new record would have an asterisk beside it. This was the year of expansion, and 8 games had been added to the schedule. It happened. Maris finished 154 games with 59 homers, one shy of the Babe. He hit numbers 60 and 61 in the extra games. His record of 61 was tarnished by an asterisk. Maris grew sullen. He was a introvert who hated being harassed by the press. Nonetheless, Roger Maris' record of 61 home runs stood until Mark McGuire hit 70 in 1998.

Baseball records are subject to scrutiny, certainly home run records. Over the decades, fences have been moved in. Balls have gotten livelier. Pitchers mounds have been lowered. Baseball does what it has to, to keep the game interesting. After Barry Bonds hit 73, it came out that he was using steroids, a performance-enhancing drug. The criticism was, "The balls are juiced, the bats are juiced and the players are juiced." Congress, led by Senator John McCain of Arizona, cracked down on baseball's illegal use of steroids.

Mickey Mantle's abilities eroded in the mid-1960s. Injuries took their toll. He played in pain, taping his legs before every game. He retired after 1968 as the Yankees collapsed. With Mantle, it will always be what might have been. He hit 536 home runs but could have hit 700. He and Ford went into the Hall of Fame together. In recent years, 500 home runs is the standard for power hitters as 3,000 hits is the goal of players who hit for average. Longevity is a must. Mantle had a drinking problem and died in 1995 after a failed liver transplant. He was courageous to the end.

George Steinbrenner, a wealthy ship-builder from Cleveland, bought the Yankees from CBS in 1973 and set out to rebuild them. The Steinbrenner era has been turbulent. He speaks his mind and attracts players who do the same. He has made 21 managerial changes. He hired and fired Billy Martin 5 times. Money is not an issue when it comes to "The Boss" and his Yankees. Free agency changed the game. Players go on the market when their contracts expire. Steinbrenner's money allows him to sign the top free agents. Modern players play for themselves, money and their current teams in that order.

Graig Nettles made breath-taking plays at third base for The Yankees in the 1970s. He was known for his wit as much as his glove. Nettles coined the phrase, "Bronx Zoo." Sparky Lyle used it as the title of his book. Nettles wrote one called, "Balls." When Cy Young winner Lyle was traded, Nettles said it was "Cy Young and Sayonara."

Cajun Ron Guidry was the Yankee pitcher of his generation. in 1978, Guidry went 25-3 with an ERA of 1.74. He was known for his slider.

Goose Gossage came to the Yankees as their closer. He intimidated with his Fu Manchu and blazing fastball.

Bucky Dent fueled The Yankees/Red Sox rivalry with his 1978 home run that put the Bronx Bombers in their second consecutive World Series with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers have been the Yankees' great National League rival. They have met in the World Series 11 times. The Yankees are 8-3.

Thurman Munson named Reggie Jackson, "Mr. October," after Reggie hit 3 home runs in game 6 of the 1977 World Series against the Dodgers. Broadcaster Howard Cosell called Munson, "Old Scrapiron." Munson was the most reliable catcher since Berra. He died when his private plane crashed in 1979. The Yankees were not the same after his death.

Baseball is not as simple as it was in the 1950s. There were 16 teams, 8 in each league. After 154 games, the team with the best record in the American League played the team with the best record in the National League in the World Series.

Today, there are 30 teams, one winner and 29 losers. It is harder to win a World Series. There are the American League Division Series (ALDS) and the American League Championship Series (ALCS). There are the NLDS and NLCS. The playoffs took something away from the World Series. Theoretically, a team could go 162-0 and not go to the World Series while a team playing under .500 could win it. The Series became a tournament.

The 30 teams are affected equally. It is harder for everyone. The wild cards give lesser teams a chance. Over time, any team will be helped and hurt by the wild card. Baseball is complicated and no longer our national past time. Salaries are unreasonable. Derek Jeter signed a 10-year deal with the Yankees in 2001 for $189 million. Rediculous! People are working for minimum wage. Working men struggle to feed their families and make ends meet. Sports figures are paid millions for playing a game. A game is a game. Something is wrong.

I noticed a change while in Las Vegas in 1993. The Yankees were again rising from the ashes. I watched them on big screens in the Vegas hotels. They had Wade Boggs who would spend 5 years at third base. Someone told me they got Jimmy Key. I had not heard of Key, but he was a good pitcher. Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams were the backbone of this new dynasty. O'Neill won the batting title in the strike-shortened season of 1994. He played with an intensity that bordered on rage. He loved to win and hated to lose, the kind of guy you want on your team. Williams became The Yankees' best centerfielder since Mantle.

Don Mattingly was replaced at first base by Tino Martinez. Ironically, Mattingly never appeared in a World Series, coming in 1982 and leaving after 1995.

Derek Jeter came in 1995. He is the best shortstop in Yankee history, a fan favorite and headed for the Hall of Fame.

Steinbrenner hired Joe Torre as his manager for 1996. Torre was born to manage the Yankees. He is a New Yorker with the patience of Job. He understands baseball and its players. He can talk to the press, explain things in calm detail. Torre brought a stability to the Yankees which had been absent for years.

The Yankees went to their first World Series in 15 years under Joe Torre. They went up against the Atlanta Braves, the self-proclaimed "team of the '90s." David Cone, now a Yankee, came on television and made the statement, "We're not afraid of the Atlanta Braves!" I felt a rush! That is what I wanted to hear. I hated the Braves although not as much as the Cubs. Both Braves and Cubs were overexposed by cable TV in the 1980s. The tomahawk chop from Atlanta fans was annoying. I wanted the Yankees to kick their butts, and they did.

The Yankees had a catcher named Jim Leyritz. He had a wierd stance and a cocky attitude. He could play any position. He was used sparingly but when he was on the field, there was an aura. Leyritz' home run in game 4 against Atlanta in the 1996 World Series not only turned the Series around but started the Yankees on the road to 4 Championships in 5 years, 1996-2000. Leyritz was Andy Pettitte's regular catcher.

Andy Pettitte was a true Yankee. He came to the team in 1995. In 9 years with the club, he posted 149 regular season victories. He was the stopper, especially effective in October. Pettitte was a left-hander with a great pick-off move to first base. At 6"5', he was an imposing figure. I never understood why they let him go to Houston.

Roger Clemens pitched with the Yankees 5 years and picked up 2 World Series rings. Clemens, like Wade Boggs, spent his young days with the Boston Red Sox. He built a reputation as a fierce competitor, emotional and willing to throw inside. The beaning of Mike Piazza caused bad blood between the Yankees and New York Mets. The situation was made worse when Clemens later threw the top half of Piazza's broken bat at him. It was in 2001 that Roger Clemens endeared himself to Yankee fans. He went 20-3 and got the Cy Young Award. Clemens won his 300th game as a Yankee. He got his 4000th strikeout in the same game. He retired after the 2003 season only to sign with the Astros when Pettitte went to Houston. Houston is Clemens' home town. Amazingly, he won his 7th Cy Young at age 42. Clemens finished the 2005 season with 341 career wins and 4,502 strikeouts, second to Nolan Ryan. Clemens may pitch in 2006.

Somewhere in middle age, I became a connaisseur of pitching. They say good pitching beats good hitting, and it is certainly difficult to win without a strong starting rotation. Baseball today has a 5-man rotation. In the days of Whitey Ford, it was a 4-man rotation. Mel Stottlemeyer has been the Yankee pitching coach under Joe Torre. Through the late 1990s and into the 21st century, Torre, Stottlemeyer and Don Zimmer (bench coach) sat next to one another in the dugout like peas in a pod. Zimmer will be remembered for his run-in with Boston pitcher, Pedro Martinez. The 70-something Zimmer charged Pedro after Pedro threatened a bean ball. The incident was played and replayed. Zimmer left the Yankees at the end of the year.

David Wells brought excitement to the pitching staff. A hulk of a man, Wells spoke his mind and seemed a throwback to the "Bronx Zoo." His teammates called him Boomer. Wells had his moment when he pitched a perfect game on May 17, 1998. I caught the tail end of it at a tacho place in Nashville. It was the first perfect game by a Yankee since Don Larsen in 1956. Wells and Larsen went to the same high school in San Diego, although years apart. Larsen was in attendance when Wells pitched his perfect game. He had come to Yankee Stadium because it was "Yogi Berra day." The 1998 New York Yankees were a magical team. They won 125 games while losing only 50. There were no superstars but there were no weak spots.

The following year, 1999, David Cone pitched a perfect game. From that game, his career went into a tailspin. I felt it had something to do with giving out gold watches after the game. Gold watches are associated with retirement.

I thought third baseman, Scott Brosius, looked like my sister's husband. My dad and I watched Yankee games on TV in the late 1990s. "There's Steve!" I would say when Brosius came to the plate. My dad passed away, September 6, 2002 in Louisville. He and my mother watched a Yankee game the night he had a stroke. Pettitte pitched. I was watching the game in Nashville.

The Yankees beat the Atlanta Braves 4-2 in the 1996 World Series. They swept The San Diego Padres in the 1998 Series and swept Atlanta in 1999. 2000 saw the Subway Series between the Yankees and the New York Mets. The Yankees bested the Mets 4-1 to win their 26th World Series.

Since blowing the 2001 World Series, the Yankees have wilted in postseason. What good is it to win 100 games and lose the World Series? Joe Torre remains a rock. He has taken the Yankees to the playoffs 10 straight years.

There are not many players from the 1990s. Things change quickly. Bernie, Jeter, catcher Jorge Pasada, and Rivera and are it. Tino Martinez returned to finish his career in pinstripes. There is something about putting on a Yankee uniform. Over-the-hill players reach back to find something extra when joining the Yankees. It has always been that way. George Steinbrenner is a generous man despite his critics. He helps veterans.

Joe Torre has returned to manage the Yankees in 2006. His contract is good through 2007. Torre should be voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee at the end of his tenure. Getting into the Hall of Fame is hard to do. There are 260 members, about 1% of all who have played Major League Baseball. Players are eligible 5 years after retirement. Their names may remain on the ballot for 15 years. They must receive 75% of the votes. Votes are cast by the Baseball Writers' Association. There are players in the Hall who are unfamiliar to modern fans. There are plyers who may deserve to be in who are not. The Hall of Fame sets its own guidelines. It exists for its own sake and the players enshrined. Wade Boggs was chosen on the first ballot. Boggs achieved baseball immortality after the 1996 Series when he rode around Yankee Stadium on a horse behind a mounted policeman. He went on to kiss home plate when he became the only player to hit a home run for his 3,000th hit. The Baseball Hall Of Fame is located in Cooperstown, New York, the place where the game was invented in 1839 by Abner Doubleday.

Michael and I flew to New York and saw a game at Yankee Stadium. It was a day game with the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday, August 10, 2005. We were in the third tier down the third base line. The Yankees lost 2-1 in 10 innings, but we got to see some leftovers from the great team of the 1990s. It was my first and only time at Yankee Stadium. It was like I had to wait to take my son. We made our way to the Bronx and back to Manhattan by subway.

The 2006 Yankees feature high-profile players. Johnny Damon is in center field. Damon's father was an American soldier in southeast Asia. His mother was from Thailand. Randy Johnson is pitching another year. Mike Mussina is back. Alex Rodriguez is at third. Hideki Matsui is in left, Gary Sheffield in right. Giambi is on first. The line-up is being called the new Murderer's Row. With young pitchers like Shawn Chacon and Chien-Ming Wang, the Yankees might erase the humiliation of the previous 5 years.

Construction on the new Stadium begins in 2006. It will be ready for the 2009 season. It will be in the Bronx, close to the old stadium. It makes me wonder how long baseball will go on. Will baseball be around another hundred years? Will the Yankees still be the greatest team? What will a superstar's salary be in the 22nd century?


1 Anderson, Dave, Murray Chass, Robert Creamer and Harold Rosenthal. The Yankees: The Four Fabulous Eras of Baseball's Most Famous Team. New York. Random House, 1979

2 Frommer, Harvey. A Yankee Century. New York, Berkley Books, 2002

3 Hageman, William and Warren Wilbert. New York Yankees: Seasons of Glory. Middle Village, Jonathan David, 1999

4 Honig, Donald. The New York Yankees: An Illustrated History. New York, Crown, 1981

5 Mahoney, Jeff. Subway Series: Yankees vs. Mets. Middletown, CT, CheckerBee, 2000

6 Mantle, Mickey and Herb Gluck. The Mick. New York, Doubleday, 1985

7 Mantle, Mickey with Mickey Herskowitz. All My Octobers: My Memories of Twelve World Series When the Yankees Ruled Baseball. New York, HarperCollins, 1994

8 Robinson, Ray and Christopher Jennison. Yankee Stadium: 75 Years of Drama, Glamor and Glory. New York, Penguin, 1998

9 ________. Pennants and Pinstripes: The New York Yankees 1903-2002. New York, Viking, 2002

10 Stout, Glenn and Richard A. Johnson. Yankees Century: 100 Years of New York Yankee Baseball. New York, Houghton Mifflin, 2002

Contact: jim@jimcolyer.com

Posted by Jim Colyer 14:47 Comments (0)


Jim and Michael Colyer bite from the Big Apple.

Tuesday, August 9 (Day 1) - Michael and Karen came to my apartment at 4:30 in the morning. I met them in the garage. Karen drove us to the airport. We left Nashville on Delta Flight 5405 at 6AM. This was Michael's first time on a plane, a good thing about the trip. We changed planes in Cincinnati and arrived at Kennedy Airport in New York at 11:31AM. We caught the airbus to lower Manhattan. Our first day was rough. I had a hostel waiting. Michael would not stay there. We spotted the Empire State Building in the distance and started walking. The Empire State Building is at 34th Street & 5th Avenue. It was built, 1930-31, and its architecture reflects the period. It is shaped like a pencil. There are 102 floors. The observatory is on the 86th. The line was long. I told Michael the story of how I came here in the Army. It was a cold, windy night. My saucer hat blew off. I caught it before it blew over the edge. We looked down on Manhattan as I had years ago. 20,000 buildings are seen. New York is a a study in buildings and architecture. We saw the Hudson and East Rivers. We hit the streets looking for a hotel. We came to the entrance of Central Park and entered it. Joggers were running. I told Michael we were getting in deep, so we retraced our steps. We found Times Square. Michael was elated. It dawned on me how much Times Square meant to him because of seeing it on television and in movies. He took pictures from every angle. Night fell. We were turned away from hotels. We went into TGI Friday's. The Yankees were playing the White Sox on the Yes Network. We watched the game and talked about staying up all night. We went looking one last time and found the Portland Square Hotel. It was a miracle. The room was small but clean and quiet. Best of all, it was right around the corner from Times Square and the Palace Theatre where we had tickets for the Broadway show. Nothing is cheap in New York. I tried to keep expenses under control while doing what we came to do. Michael brought his cell phone and stayed in touch with his mother and friends. People were everywhere. You dodge them. Horns blow. Cabs whiz. It is an effort to cross streets. Michael and I stayed close. We had a flexible plan which we adjusted as we went along. We walked for long stretches. We sat and rested. Michael said he was overweight. This was a chance for him to work off some pounds and for me to fight arthritis.

Wednesday, August 10 (Day 2) - We made our way to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx by train. Yankee Stadium is located at 161st & River Ave. I got tickets by email, $52 total. We were in the upper deck down the third base line toward left field. The game took up a large part of the day. It began at 1:05pm. I wanted a day game so we would have light when we hit the street. The New York Yankees played the Chicago White Sox. This was traditional American League baseball. The Yankees lost, but the main thing was that we experienced a game at Yankee Stadium. There were some leftovers from the great team of the 1990s: Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Pasada, Mariano Rivera, Tino Martinez and manager Joe Torre. The Stadium itself was the star. I noticed the big NY behind home plate and the facade in the outfield. I remembered how Mickey Mantle came within inches of hitting one out. I gazed at the bullpen and could just see the edge of Monument Park from where we sat. The Yankees dugout was on the first base side. We roamed through shops which sold Yankees merchandise.

Thursday, August 11 (Day 3) -
This was the day we cracked New York. We rode the subway to Lower Manhattan and Ground Zero. Ground Zero was fenced in. We walked around the perimeter. It was a solemn site, not unlike Pearl Harbor. It was not so emotional at this point, but we wondered what it was like in the city on that day. Freedom Tower is being built. America comes first since 9/11. Michael pointed to a cross. From Ground Zero, we hoofed it to Wall Street as I had in 1984. Wall Street is the country's financial center, and Michael wanted to see the New York Stock Exchange where stocks are bought and sold. NYSE lists 2800 companies. It has the largest trading volume of any stock exchange except NASDAQ. This was an education for Michael. Federal Hall across the street is where George Washington was inaugurated. Michael got pictures of Washington's statue. He got one of Trinity Church. Wall Street got its name from the wall built by the Dutch to protect themselves from Indians. The British took New Amsterdam and named it New York in honor of the Duke of York. We moved toward Battery Park. A German girl took our picture as we ferried to the Statue of Liberty. She was from Hamburg. We talked about The Beatles and the Star Club. Michael and I spent an hour on Liberty Island looking up at the green Statue. His Liberty pictures are like post cards. I was doing this for Michael. He was seeing New York City for the first time. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French. It was done by sculptor Bartholdi and commemorated French support during the American Revolution. Lady Liberty holds a tablet reading July 4, 1776, in Roman numerals. Her right arm is straight. She holds a torch. There are 7 spikes in her crown representing 7 seas or 7 continents. Her official name is "Liberty Enlightening the World." Battery Park is so named because of guns which once defended Lower Manhattan. We returned to the room to rest. It was a hot August day. I could not drink enough. Water fountains were not to be found. I secured the tickets for All Shook Up which I got from Ticketmaster by email. The show was at the Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway. I remembered the address because it was the year of Shakespeare's birth. Off we went. We were in the balcony. The theatre was ornate, and an usher told us it was about 100 years old. All Shook Up combined the music of Elvis Presley with the plot of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. It was fun. We exited the theatre at 10:30PM and went to our room for our last night in the city.

Michael had to see Trump Tower, and we found it. It is residential. Its condominiums are for the rich. Donald Trump is a real estate developer and Michael's hero. I took a picture of Michael against the backdrop of Trump and his wife, Melania. Michael bought shirts at Brooks Brothers. The clerk told him Trump's assistant came in the day before. We passed Rockefeller Center and got pictures of Prometheus and Radio City Music Hall. We slipped into the NBC studios shop. We ate at ESPN Zone and saw a bad collision between two baseball players. ESPN stands for Entertainment Sports Programming Network.

Friday, August 12 (Day 4) - On our way out of town, we stopped by New York University. Washington Square Park sits on the edge of NYU, and we saw the famous arch. We entered a book store. Michael compared the business books to MTSU's. We got to Kennedy Airport with time to spare and ate at Chili's Too. It was a straight flight to Nashville. We arrived on Delta/Comair. Karen met us and dropped me off at Vanderbilt.

I had it in mind to take Michael to the main sections of the United States: south, up east and out west. Daytona Beach was the trip south. New York was up east. Las Vegas will be west. I now see the early trips to New York as preparation for this trip with Michael.
Contact: jim@jimcolyer.com

Posted by Jim Colyer 14:45 Comments (0)

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