It was a night not so different from any other. I left work late, grabbed a bite to eat, and hopped on the uptown D train headed for the Boogie Down, blasting old school Janet Jackson on my iPod so loud that I’m sure the rest of the train could hear it too. I saw the toes tapping, the heads bobbing, and I just knew the vibe was in the air. The Yankees were in town.
I arrived at 161st Street, that hallowed ground, found my seat and my boyfriend, and started filling in my scorecard. The air was thick and heavy and clung to my skin like a hot, wet blanket. Sidney Ponson took the mound in his Yankee debut. The crowd buzzed and bubbled with their beers and peanuts, waiting for our boy to throw the first strike.
The Yankees started losing early. By the seventh inning, the crowd started to thin, though the game was still close. The air lingered beside we who remained, torturing us with its sticky fingers. The sky spat at us, lonely tiny drops that came down in welcome pin-pricks of relief, much too few and far between. I sat, resigned to a Yankee loss, choosing instead to revel in the hot summer evening and a night spent at the ballgame, dutifully filling in my scorecard.
And then. The bottom of the ninth inning arrives. The Yankees have pulled to within one. The wind picks up and swirls around the stadium, lifting hot dog wrappers, plastic cups, and peanut shells into the air, spinning, twisting in their own revelry. Lightning flashes behind the plate, closely followed by a loud clap of thunder at just the moment that Jorge Posada hits the questionable single that starts the storm a-brewing.
Electricity fills the stadium to beyond capacity. It is no longer contained. Lightning streaks to the ground at harrowing intervals. The rain pours, but we barely feel it. Everyone is standing, everyone screaming, the decibel level of our chanting surpasses even that of the hundreds of booming speakers throughout the stadium. Thunder crashes around us. Momentum is on our side. A-Rod comes to bat. My fingers find their way to my mouth. I’ve never been one to bite my nails, but it happens anyway, as if by instinct. He works the count to 3-1. The rain comes down heavier still. The wind is ripping around. The storm, the storm, it is here. It is now. Hail. I feel hail. I scream like a Neanderthal in the night. Never have I felt this type of exhilaration. I feel involved, and alive, and I am 100% there.
My scorecard, long since dropped and left in a puddle of swirling ink, is forgotten.
The tarp comes out, the game is delayed. We wait, adrenaline pumping through our veins. We wait. And we wait. Two hours go by, and we wait.
Just around midnight, play resumes, Alex strikes out. We boo. We go into extra innings.
Bottom of the 11th inning. Melky Cabrera hits the third pitch he sees clear out of the stadium. The 5,000 of us who are left erupt in an explosion of sheer energy. The Yankees win, the-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh YANKEES WIN!
Frank serenades our exit. We sigh with relief, pumping our fists in the air, high-fiving complete strangers, rewarded for our perseverence. Oh, what a night.
We arrive home just after 2am, wet and weary but fulfilled.
The Yankees won. The Yankees won.