Deep in Center Field

Jul 07, 2018

RAY: This was conceived by Michael Freedman, and pre-obfuscated and submitted by Howard Weinstein.

Baseball fans old enough to have seen games either in person or on TV at Yankee Stadium during the fifties and sixties saw a fairly unusual sight: three monolithic stone monuments on the playing field in the deepest part of center field. Looming like giant tombstones, they memorialized early Yankee manager Miller Huggins, and immortal players, Babe Ruth and, of course, Lou Gehrig. During one game in the fifties a Yankee outfielder let the ball get by him and it rolled between the monuments. As the outfielder scrambled for the ball, Yankee manager Casey Stengel shouted from the dugout, 'Ruth, Gehrig, Huggins. Somebody get that ball back to the infield!'

When Yankee Stadium was renovated in the mid-seventies, a larger monument park was built behind the outfield fence. Many more monuments and plaques were added honoring the great names from Yankee Stadium's long and storied history. Now most of those honored Yankee players. But oddly enough, three plaques honored former Cardinals, men who never played for the Yankees. How could that be? And for extra credit can you name those former Cardinals?



RAY: Here's the answer: The former cardinals weren't members of the Saint Louis Cardinals baseball team, in fact they weren't baseball players at all.

TOM: Really?

RAY: They were three popes who celebrated mass at Yankee Stadium over the years and in order to be pope you had to have been first what?

TOM: A cardinal.

RAY: Right, and they were Pope Paul VI, Pope Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI. They are all three former cardinals whose names are on plaques with the players in Yankee Stadium. They all celebrated mass there, so it's a big deal.

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