On September 21, 2008, the last game at historic Yankee Stadium—"The House That Babe Ruth Built"—is played. In the finale, the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles, 7-3, as future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera closes the game with a perfect ninth inning. “The way I feel emotionally right now and just physically so drained, it feels like a huge postseason win for us,” Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte told the New York Times.
With its unique design, such as a short porch in right field and covered seats in deep center, the stadium opened in 1923. It was the scene of scores of Major League Baseball’s most famous moments, including Ruth's first home run in the stadium on April 18, 1923, Reggie Jackson’s three home-run game to close out the 1977 World Series and Aaron Boone's Game 7 walk-off home run in the 2003 American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox.
In closing the stadium, the Yankees hosted a pre-game ceremony, allowing fans and former Yankee legends to walk the hallowed grounds a final time. Julia Ruth Stevens, Ruth's daughter, threw out the ceremonial first pitch as the scoreboard flashed “To Be Continued…” and a photo of "The Bambino" winking.
The game was ultimately meaningless in the standings for the underwhelming 2008 Yankees, who would miss the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. But veteran Yankees noted a playoff-like atmosphere. Even some of the retired Yankees, such as Bernie Williams, described pre-game jitters: “I feel as nervous as I was before a playoff game,” he said.
Yankees captain Derek Jeter instructed the New York faithful to bring the same energy to the “new” Yankee Stadium the next season. “We are relying on you to take the memories from this stadium, add them to the new memories to come at the new Yankee Stadium, and continue to pass them on from generation to generation,” he said.
In 2009, the Yankees won another World Series—the fifth and final one of Jeter's historic career.