If this is the end, I was honored to spend the last night with you…
The year is 1997, I a high school sophomore, went up to Yankee Stadium, to see a game and sit in the Bleachers and met someone who was fun and helped me appreciate the game a whole lot more than I ever did sitting in the Box Seats. This person I would learn later was Bald Vinny. For the next 15 years, Bald Vinny would turn into more than just a guy sitting in Section 39, screaming at the top of his lungs to see if every player would answer him in some special way, to a business man, a reality TV star, friend to thousands of people, Social Media kingpin, Husband to Rose, Father to Layla and Lucas, and to me most importantly a loyal friend.
Fast forward to 2009, when the What’s Brewin in Sports Radio Network was beginning Bald Vinny’s House of T’s was our first sponsor and has been with us ever since, no matter what will ALWAYS be there. He has been a guest on the show too many times to mention and every Yankee blog or talk show that has ever asked for an interview has received one from the leader of “The Bleacher Creatures”. Vinny knows that fans drove his business and for the past 10 years has. Unfortunately, a new Stadium was built and 50,000+ people weren’t walking past Vinny’s shirt stand anymore. The “Die-Hards” kept business running for Vinny, but the evolution of Yankee fans and the ever emerging Pink Hat fans that didn’t appreciate 1 man standing outside Billy’s Sports Bar selling One of a Kind shirts, scarves, pins and hoodies at extremely reasonable prices, brought Vinny to a crossroads, and that crossroads was told to me on Opening Day 2011. When Vinny told me that this may possibly be the final season that he would be operating the shirt stand as well as doing Roll Call, I was stunned. More than stunned, I was upset, everyone including the Yankees, have been screwing him all these years, I thought that maybe just maybe they would step up their end of the deal of having the most recognizable fan in baseball and help him out, maybe start selling some of his gear inside the Stadium. I told him that by the end of the year hopefully, he would change his mind and be back in the Bronx in 2012, but as the season began to run it’s course, and I had the opportunity to spend more time with him working at the stand over the last 2 months, I realized that the days were growing longer for him and that the my very good friend who was living the American Dream, may have to get a real job to help support his family.
With the final out of the Yankees season last night, I saw a man who was always full of energy, who took all losses to heart, taking this one especially harder, I worked my ass off post game to sell 1 more shirt, hoodie, pin, or scraf for the man that I have called my friend for 15 years. When we closed up the stand last night, hopefully not for the last time, I looked at my friend who I could see that he was holding back the same tears that I am writing this final paragraph with, told him that I loved him and that we will always be there for each other gave him a hug and said I will see you in April. Lord knows if I will be right, but if he isn’t there next year, the Yankees will play, someone else will try to do Roll Call, but it won’t be the same. Vinny, I know I speak for every die hard Yankees fan when I say, you were more a part of every Yankee team since 1997, than any player, manager, front office member, you sir are a true “Yankee Legend”!
If you still haven’t bought a shirt from Vinny, go to www.baldvinny.com