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Memories from old stadiums never die

I never got to see a game at Yankee Stadium, and since they are knocking down the "House that Ruth Built" at the end of the year, it doesn't look like I will ever get there.

As I sat in front of the television set watching all the All-Star game activities, I couldn't help but feel a little bit sentimental.

Let's face it, Yankee Stadium is a historic landmark, and generations of great players have worn the famous pinstripes. From Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, to Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson, to today's Yankee heroes Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, fans have collected a lifetime of memories watching these men play the game.

I know how true Yankee fans must feel.

Some of my own boyhood haunts are no longer standing.

My introduction to baseball came inside the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

My father took me to my first game when I was just 5-years-old.

Although I was more concerned about getting to the bottom of my Cracker Jack box so I could get to the toy surprise, my father patiently sat there and tired to explain to me the rules of the game.

Soon I was hooked.

Busch Stadium became my home away from home, and I lived and died with every Bob Gibson pitch and Lou Brook stolen base.

As a young fan I was always optimistic. I couldn't wait for April to get here. It was sort of away to survive the cold St. Louis winters. There was always that youthful optimism that this was going to be the year the Cardinals broke through and won the World Series.

In 1975, my father's company transferred him to Philadelphia. Although I vowed never to give up my loyalty to the Cardinals, that lasted about one season as I quickly jumped over to the other side-becomng a Phillies fan almost overnight.

Veteran Stadium was a carbon copy of Busch Stadium, and I loved it just as much. Getting to see Mike Schmidt hit a home run or scope up a hard-hit ground ball down the third base line put me in baseball heaven. Watching Steve Carlton mow down another batter was a great way to spend the summer months.

Once I moved to Atlanta in 1980, I got to watch some really bad baseball, as the Braves spent years frustrating their fans.

Still, there were some good times in the old Fulton County Stadium.

My friends and I would drive down to the park, and for a couple of dollars sit up in the general admission seats over looking the outfield.

It was a perfect way to watch some of the great players from the era come to town, and usually beat the Braves.

It wasn't all bad, Phil Niekro and Dale Murphy always put on a good show for the Atlanta, so did Bob Horner.

Busch Stadium, The Vet and Fulton County Stadium all looked the same, and by today's standards, they were dumps.

Still, for a young man, they were great places to grow up and develop a love for the game.

After all, stadiums might come and go, but their memories never fade away.

Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at dgorman@news-daily.com