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BASEBALL - NEW YORK

Yankees bid farewell to cult stadium

4 min

The New York Yankees played their last match at the Yankee stadium with a 7- 3 home win against the Baltimore Orioles. The 85 year old stadium will soon be torn down only to be replaced by a modern version nearby.

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American baseball said so long to an old friend on Sunday as Yankee Stadium hosted its final Major League Baseball game.

It was a sweet sorrow send-off and a victorious one for the Yankees who ended an era with a 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Derek Jeter spent his entire career as a Yankee playing in the 85-year-old stadium which will be replaced by a 1.3 billion dollar building which is being built across the street.

Speaking to the crowd after the final out of the ninth inning, Jeter said he had many fond memories of the hallowed ballpark.

"It is a huge honour to put this uniform on everyday and come out here to play," American Jeter said.

"There is a lot of tradition, history and memories. The great thing about memories is being able to pass it along from generation to generation.

"We are moving across the street but a few things about the Yankees never change."

The players gathered together and strolled through the outfield hugging, taking pictures and waving to the Yankee faithful who stayed in their seats long after the game had ended to savour the moment.

Mariano Rivera registered the final out and Jose Molina, of Puerto Rico, hit a two-run homer which marked the last home run in the history of the Stadium where the Yankees have won 26 league championships.

In possibly his final home start for the team, embattled pitcher Andy Pettitte (14-14) hurled five innings and recorded the victory. Pettitte was accused in last December's Mitchell Report of using performance enhancing drugs.

Rivera, the team's closer in three of their four world championships, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning as the fans chanted his name and cameras flashed.

American Johnny Damon also homered to stymie the Orioles, who were swept in the final series here.

"It was kind of like the seventh game of the World Series, the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras - a little bit of everything," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. "It's about the great players they've had here, and the fans. The fans are all behind this team. I think that was pretty self-evident with a lot of these guys of recent times who came back. They love their players here."

Babe Ruth's 92-year-old daughter, Julia, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

To snap a 3-3 tie in a game that was almost an after-thought, Molina clubbed a towering homer to left-center field - the final blast at the "House that Ruth Built" - off rookie lefthander Chris Waters (3-4), who allowed five runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"It feels great. It's a special feeling," Molina said. "Nobody expected me to do that. Even me, I wasn't expecting it and, when you don't expect stuff, it just feels better."

The homer was just the 19th of Molina's career, a stark contrast to the team's first great home-run hitter, Ruth, who is third all-time with 714 career blasts.

This season, however, will not send the Stadium out with yet another title like those won by Ruth and his teammates.

Playoffs hopes are strictly mathematical for New York (85-71), which would be eliminated from contention with a loss or one win by the American League wild card-leading Boston Red Sox (91-64) in the final week.

The Yankees end the season with a three-game series against the arch-rival Red Sox.

Panama's Rivera said he couldn't stop thinking of all the great players that had played at the historic ballpark.

"I tried to picture Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. All those guys. It is overwhelming. The Yankees are in a class of their own."

Rivera said this night was more nerve-racking than a World Series.

"The World Series, All Star Games, this is special. This is just beyond. This is its own. I was trying to hold my composure. I never got a lot of that before but today I got caught a little with that," Rivera said.

Said Jeter, "I played my entire career here at Yankee stadium and it doesn't get any better than this. This is a very special special day."

The last word belonged to former Yankee superstar Yogi Berra, who is famous for coining the phrase "it ain't over till it's over".

"I hate to see it go," Berra said. "I played here all my life. Eighteen years I played here and I am sorry to see it go."

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