Two Yankees legends will be back at the stadium today after an off-season where both announced they would be leaving Yankee Stadium behind. Jorge Posada and “Bald” Vinny Milano will be back; one to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and the other back in the comfort of section 203 with the Bleacher Creatures. I am excited for both of them.
Jorge retired in January after 16 Hall of Fame seasons with the Yankees. The announcement was an emotional one, and being that the former catcher never truly got to say goodbye to the fans in Yankee Stadium today will be special. As one of the anointed “Core Four”, it will surely be a special day for Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera as well. If only the newly un-retired Andy Pettitte could be there to welcome him back the four would be reunited for one more day. Jorge was always one of may favorite Yankees, and I wish I was there to thank him in person. Seeing him throw out the first pitch will probably bring goosebumps. What would make it even better is if the roles are reversed and Rivera is out to catch it.
I wrote a few weeks ago about Bald Vinny and how life would be forcing him away from Yankee Stadium this season. Vinny needed to move on from his T-Shirt business, and spending 81 days at the Stadium to support his family wasn’t cutting it. After 10-plus years as the leader of the famous roll call and the face of the Bleacher Creatures it was the end. As we many of us know, finding employment is tough right now, and for Vinny it was no exception. Luckily for us as Yankees fans he recently made the announcement that he would be back. Back selling his shirts on River Ave, and back in section 203 leading roll call. My hope for Vinny is success with the shirt business and one day a licensing deal so that the business can be his “real” job for life. I bought two Bleacher Creature shirts myself (probably the only two in Idaho) and if you are reading this and are a die-hard Yankee fan, you should too.
Welcome back Jorge, and welcome back Bald Vinny.
Two Yankee Stadium legends.
Now if Bald Vinny will just do roll call for Jorge when he comes out the day will be perfect.
I don’t know “Bald Vinny” Milano. I have known of him for many years, as the vocal leader of the “Bleacher Creatures” roll call, but until recently I never really knew his story or what he is all about. And now that I have, it seems the Bald Vinny era at Yankee stadium is over.
Vinny is more than just a Yankees fan. He has devoted the past 10 plus years to growing his own business, fighting for someone to give him a chance. Since 2001 Vinny has sold his own style of Bleacher Creature, Rivalry and Player shirts outside of Yankee Stadium. Every game, win or lose, rain or shine, he was selling his shirts hoping that someone (the Yankees) would take a chance on his brand, and give him a licensing deal to allow him to grow his business beyond the Bronx. Unfortunately, that never happened. But life did.
As many of us know, with maturation and responsibility comes families, and with families come priorities. Things that were once the most important to us have to be sacrificed.
As a Yankee fan myself I know this too well. The last time I had a chance to go to a Yankees game was May of 2006. My wife was pregnant with our first child, and we knew it may be a while before we could make it back, especially being that we live on the other side of the country in Boise, ID. Our jobs at the time had us traveling the country, and we were lucky enough that May to be working in Poughkeepsie. We had our days off planned. Take the train to the city, stay the night, and spend the next day at Yankee Stadium, taking the stadium tour and finally watching the Yanks against the Red Sox.
But it never happened.
The city greeted us with what seemed like the biggest rain storm in the history of New York. We still got to take the tour, (my profile picture is me in the Yankees dugout that day) but the game was postponed, to be made up in September, a month after our daughters birth.
I was crushed, and I have yet to make it back to the Bronx.
Reading Vinny’s blog post “The End” today brought me back to that trip, and made me realize that what he has done with his shirt business wasn’t just for the fans that go to every game, but for fans like me as well, fans who do whatever they can to see one Yankees game, and don’t know if they will ever get back.
My son was born in 2009, and with two young children and a wife to support, I don’t know when I will make it to a Yankees game again. But I know that I will. I will not give up hope.
Vinny Milano is moving on from his legacy as a Yankee Stadium fixture for the same reason – he has a family to take care of. But don’t ever give up hope for your business, Vinny. You may have to prioritize to take care of your family, but you can always make your shirts, and one day you may get the break you have been waiting for.
I sure hope so, because you represent not only the die hard Yankee fans that make it to many games, sit in the bleachers and get saluted by Nick Swisher, but also those of us that dream to make it back to the Bronx just one more time in our life.
Every year I buy a new Yankees t-shirt at the beginning of the season. Usually it is from MLB.com, or my local sports store. This year though I am buying an authentic Yankees t-shirt. I am buying a Bleacher Creature shirt from Vinny, and I hope any Yankee fan that reads this will do the same. You can buy the shirts at the section 203.com store.
Thanks for all you have done, Vinny. I will wear your shirt proudly and look forward to the day when you lead the roll call again.
Maybe I will be there.