Fans pack Bryant Park for Rally Monday
Old-timers come out for celebration of AL East triumph
NEW YORK -- At noon Monday, Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" aired over the Bryant Park public address system.
And the several thousand Yankees fans attending Rally Monday were thrilled to have a baseball celebration on their hands.
"I think it's very fortunate for New Yorkers to have an event like this they can participate in," said Raymond Richardson Myrie Jr. of the Bronx. "Dealing with the stressful environment of New York City, the traffic and the way things are going today in America, it's not getting any easier. And this is a stress-reliever."
Fans milled about the park's three-street-by-one-avenue lawn, snagging free rally towels, purchasing AL East Champion and Division Series merchandise and anxiously awaiting the outcome of several raffles.
The biggest prizes were two pairs of tickets to Game 3 of the Yankees' Division Series matchup with the Los Angeles Angels, won by Keith Creaven and Bill Gallvin, respectively. Each said he would take his wife. Smaller prizes included a range of DVDs and autographed baseballs.
Many of the fans in attendance came during their lunch break from work.
"I saw an advertisement on the Metro newspaper saying they were going to be here from 12-1," said Jessica Perez, of Corona, who attended with a friend. "And I thought, 'What better way to spend my lunch break than be here?'"
The event was hosted by WFAN's Chris Carlin, who handed off the microphone to several former Yankees, including Don Larsen, Graig Nettles, Mickey Rivers and Jim Leyritz. The players expressed their appreciation for the fans' support of the Yankees.
They also recounted poignant World Series memories from their experiences. Larsen spoke about his perfect game, the only such pitching performance in World Series history, recalling that his last memory of it was catcher Yogi Berra jumping on top of him and not being able to breathe.
Leyritz said that the excitement this year seemed more palpable because of the struggles the team went through all season, only overtaking Boston for good in the season's final week. He said that the tumultuous season had to be hard on the fans, but ultimately uplifting because the Yankees once again finished as champions.
"It was interesting," said self-proclaimed die-hard Yankee fan John McInnes. "I didn't think they were going to win the East at all until the last two weeks, when they won 15 of 20 or something ridiculous. And the Red Sox totally choked, which was awesome."
"It's amazing," Perez said. "It's a great feeling to finally come through and not just by barely making it -- we're coming out on top. ... Hopefully, we'll be able to top it off with a World Series win."
Ben Couch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.