Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cotton Eye Joe

Took in my first Yankee game of the year tonight up in the Bronx! The Yanks looked sharp defensively nailing at least two double plays to support a solid pitching effort by first-time MLB winner Kei Igawa.

It was chilly, enough that when Alex Rodriguez went after a pitch that looked way outside and drilled a two-run homer into left field in the sixth inning, my wooden seat felt cold when I finally sat down after standing up to cheer the homer and waited for A-Rod to come back up the steps of the dugout for a tip of the hat to the fans.

A near constant "misting" from the cloud-filled sky above and the breeze blowing through the wooden seats in tier box section 638 (four rows up from the upper deck rail above the third base line ) made the temperature feel more like 45 degrees.

With NY ahead 8-2 I was debating going home because I'd gone to the stadium straight from work and wasn't dressed warmly enough. So my buddy suggested we walk down to find some better seats on the lower level. Enough fans had left that we found a couple empty seats about 20 rows back just off home plate, it was much warmer under the cover.

We were talking when my buddy Eddie called me to invite me up to his box on the loge level. Eddie and I used to bartend together at an Irish Bar on the Upper West Side and he's been a bartender in Yankee Stadium for about 6 years. So he's got some pull in the proverbial chain; enough that if the people using the box he's working in are really cool - he'll call me and tell me to come up and hang out.

It took four minutes to walk up there and we met the guy who'd rented the box, a really laid back guy in his early fifties who'd graduated from the University of Michigan. Being a Penn State grad myself I conceded that they'd kicked the Nittany Lion's ass for the past few series. He laughed and just welcomed me as if I was a guest. Most of his party were gone, so I hung out with Eddie and my other buddy and feasted on the buffet leftovers while watching the last two innings in complete comfort.

The host and I watched the large color flat screen as Yankee fans danced to the Rednex club-mix version of the old American folk tune Cotton Eye Joe. Periodically the camera cuts to a "Live!" feed of this kind of Italian-looking guy wearing a straw hat strumming a bat and doing his own peculiar version of the Cotton Eye Joe dance - a graphic below him flashes: Cotton Eye Joey.

If you've never been to Yankee Stadium they crank the song in the late innings to keep the crowd geared up during the frequent pitching changes. The cameras sweep the stadium for brief shots of fans dancing and everyone just kind of dances, watching the big screen to laugh at the people who get on camera and get into a frenzy when the camera pauses on them. If you're really good or just get flat-out buck wild or outrageous you get more camera time.

Standing O's are rare but I've seen it happen. Great night in the stadium, I suspect true lovers of trivial tidbits of information would be interested to see the actual lyrics of the song.

Strange that a song with a title that comes from one of the many old stereotypical images of the old, black male slave is so popular in the Bronx.


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