Saturday, August 2, 2008

On The Tunney Side of the Street #186 - July 21, 2008

On the Tunney Side of the Street #186 July 21, 2008

After Further Review .... In "The House that Ruth Built," the American League defeated the National League 4-3 in the 15th inning of the 79th Major League All-Star Baseball game. This was the 4th All-Star game played at Yankee Stadium – and the final one! Tears fell. The current Yankee Stadium (86 years old) will be demolished after the final out on September 21, 2008. The "new" Yankee Stadium is well under construction and should be finished in time for the 2009 MLB Season.

Yankee Stadium meant a lot to me. As a kid growing up in the San Gabriel Valley (Southern California), I listened on the radio (no TV yet!) to Yankee games every chance I could. Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Rizzuto, Mize, Ruffing – the whole era of baseball for me was focused in the Bronx. The Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Padres, A’s, were not yet in California.

The Dodgers were still in Brooklyn ("Dem Bums"). The Giants played at the Polo grounds as the New York Giants, and the A’s were the Philadelphia Athletics. The Angels and Padres weren’t even born yet. Neither were Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and the rest of the current Yankees.

I was raised not only on Yankee lore, but as a kid wanting to shape my athletic career around being: "Starting pitcher for the Yankees this afternoon, Jim Tunney!" I can still hear Bob Sheppard’s voice (Yankee’s P.A. announcer) resonating throughout that iconic stadium. The rest of that story did not develop beyond that dream. My baseball career came to an abrupt halt midway through my college days. Professionally? No chance!

However, when you dream about something long enough and often enough, it can happen. After officiating in high school and college football games, the NFL invited me to join their officiating ranks in 1960. Then in November 1960, I was assigned to Referee (field judge actually) the Pittsburgh Steelers at the New York Giants in (are you ready for some football!) YANKEE STADIUM!

I had never been to New York, and of course, never set foot on the field at Yankee Stadium. As soon as I arrived, I put my officiating bag in our locker room, walked down the tunnel, up the first base dugout steps … and … and, YES! Walked right to where the mound would have been (it was removed to make the football field level). I just stood there for a few minutes (seemed like an hour) and with tears streaming down my cheeks, and threw a perfect strike (albeit imaginative) as plate umpire Doug Harvey called out "Steeeeee-rike!" I was home!

Will you follow your dream, never giving up until it comes true?

For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website:, or if you would like to respond to this message,
please send your email to

No comments: