NEW YORK — Nostalgia again took over in the Bronx as Old-Timers’ Day returned to Yankee Stadium on Saturday for the first time since 2019.
This time it looked a little different. The New York Yankees called off the annual playful reunion game because too many of the retired players in attendance are recovering from various operations. Instead, emcees Michael Kay and John Sterling read extended biographies of each honoree while a brief video played on the scoreboard.
“Unless they got an influx of younger players, I don’t know if the older guys can play anymore,” Ron Guidry joked. “But, if they have [the game], I’m sure the crowd would love it, so we’ll have to see what happens over the next couple of years.”
The 33-minute pregame ceremony featured many familiar faces — Guidry, Bernie Williams and David Cone, along with Yankees spouses Joan Ford (wife of Whitey), Jill Martin (wife of Billy), Diana Munson (wife of Thurman) and Kay Murcer (wife of Bobby). Arlene Henley (Elston Howard’s spouse) also relayed a video message.
Perhaps as notable as the Yankee greats who were in attendance was the list of names that were not. Fan favorites Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, Mariano Rivera and Reggie Jackson were all scheduled to appear at an autograph signing at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Loud cheers and chants greeted Williams, and the always popular Mickey Rivers sprinted in from center field to loud applause. In years’ past, players jogged to the infield from the home dugout, but this year, they made the long walk from the center-field tunnel adjacent to Monument Park.
Aroldis Chapman came out of the New York bullpen to hug Luis Sojo during the media session. A handful of players from both the Yankees and the Royals leaned on the dugout toward the latter half of the ceremony.
“I remember coming here as a player and having the opportunity to see all these guys at Old-Timers’ Day,” Williams said. “I met Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford. We had an opportunity to meet them behind closed doors in the clubhouse. Now things have changed a little bit, but I think the sentiment remains the same.”
The game was the first without Dr. Bobby Brown. Brown, who watched the very first Old-Timers’ Day in 1947 from the dugout, died on March 25, 2021.