O's reminisce about Yankee Stadium
Millar, Roberts have had ups and downs in the Cathedral
NEW YORK -- It's not their stadium, but it's not something they'll forget easily.
The Orioles are thrilled to have the opportunity to play the last regular-season game in the storied history of Yankee Stadium, in a nationally televised Sunday night game that will close out Baltimore's road schedule for this season and usher in a new era of baseball for the Yankees.
"It's, obviously, a place that everybody grows up wishing they had an opportunity to come here," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley before Friday's series opener. "To sit in the dugout and out on the field, [for] a lot of people, that would only happen to them if it was a dream. And it's not. It's reality. That makes it more than what you can adequately explain."
The Yankees have played in their aptly-named stadium since 1923, a span that has seen them win 26 World Series titles. They'll be moving into a brand new facility that bears the same name next season and rests across the street from the current stadium, but for Baltimore veterans Brian Roberts and Kevin Millar, it won't be the same.
"I don't think it has set in completely," said Roberts. "I don't know if it will set in that we won't came back here until [we go to the new one] next year. ... It's something that I certainly will remember, probably forever. You'll be able to tell your kids, your grandkids that I played at the last game. Of course, they probably won't know what the old Yankee Stadium was."
"It will be different," added Millar, speaking of the adjusting to the new venue. "The old school stadiums, I love. I love Fenway, I love Yankee Stadium, I love Wrigley Field. I love the older stadiums like Dodgers Stadium. It will be weird, because when you come to the Bronx, you expect to fight traffic coming to the old [House That Ruth Built] stadium. It's part of the smell."
Another part of the smell -- at least for Millar -- has been hard-fought postseason baseball. Before joining the Orioles, Millar played for the Red Sox in two epic playoff series against the Yankees. Boston and New York had a 2003 American League Championship Series decided on a walk-off home run by then-Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone and the following season saw the Red Sox come back from an 0-3 deficit.
Millar will never forget the drama of those games, and he'll certainly never forget the venue associated with them.
"It's had some tears of joy and tears of pain," he said of his history in the Bronx. "For me personally, it's absolutely been an emotional roller coaster. Obviously, the '03 loss, with Pedro [Martinez] on the mound and up three runs and then the Boone walk-off home run ... to the next year, doing the same thing in 2004, beating them in Game 7 with the same two teams. Those kind of things are the memories of Yankee Stadium -- being booed, being hated, the rivalries, big-time games."
The memories are a little different for Roberts, who has spent the entire tenure of his career with Baltimore. The switch-hitting second baseman had a serious injury -- a dislocated left elbow that threatened his ability to play at the highest level -- take place at Yankee Stadium. Roberts said that he'd never be able to forget the place because of it.
"I don't think you can take that part of your life away, but there are a lot of great memories, too," he said. "That's the cool part about it. I have my own memories. My dad has his own memories. My dad's dad has his own memories.
"It's something that transcends generations because every generation has their own memory of it. For me, I have memories of watching when I was a kid, and watching the Orioles when Jeffrey Maier stole the home run and then playing here and having a career-threatening injury here. It's kind of sad. I think a lot of things will probably flash through my mind, I think."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.