Memorial Park: You’d think its gist could be summed up by the name, right? It’s a park, and there are monuments in it, and if you’re good enough in a New York Yankee, the franchise honors you when your career is over by adding you to the legends list of off-court monuments.
My initial understanding of legacy maintenance consuming baseball’s richest franchise meant that, at first, I thought I fully understood this team’s tweet issued today.
Seems like a stretch, but whatever it is, it’s none of my business. Paul O’Neill’s retired number was earned by the team he played for a little longer than he did with the Reds, and he was awarded a monument in Monument Park. Ho-hum, just some slow news another day as these official teams channels won’t recognize their actual current players.
Oh wait… just one thing. What is that!?
This, Exhibit A, is a photo that Getty Images references as “Former New York Yankee Paul O’Neill and his wife Nevali unveil the Yankee Stadium monument’s garden plaque before the game.” The photo is dated August 9, 2014. What the hell is this! This looks like a dang monument in a monument park! What gives?
To resolve this apparent contradiction, I went to the best source I could find on short notice: the fearsome Defector Yankees fan, Barry Petchesky.
It was less than helpful. But through my journalist’s exclusive, I discover the truth hidden within this labyrinth system of remembering men. Here is Figure B, a picture of Monument Park:
What you can see here are three distinct elements. You have your main attraction, which is the classic relics. You have rows of retired numbers. And you’ve got your plaques going up on the wall in the back. Each monument and retiree figure includes, in fact, a plaque, but not all plaques are relics or retiree figures. In terms of hierarchy, the general classification seems to be that any old person who once hit a zinger off Casey Fossum—or stopped by the football field for a visit without even playing baseball, in some cases—could get a plate, which O Neal got over several years. If you’re particularly good, you can rise to the company of the retirees, who all also enjoy either paintings or antiquities. However, only if you are a legend from the golden age of the franchise, or the worst terrorist attack in this nation’s history, can you climb into the “monuments” category.
I’ve broken it down for you with some examples:
Hope this clears up any confusion.