He stood the rain and the cold just alongside me. I think he was enjoying the thought of me being there representing both of us, so that's all I could do for him. —Yvonne Pierce, Yankees fan
Sitting amongst a small group of New York Yankees fans at Denver's Coors Field, Yvonne Pierce couldn't stop smiling. It was May 7, 2013; nearly a lifetime had passed — 74 years — and the die-hard fan was finally getting to see her Yankees in person.
Just a few rows separated Pierce and the gentlemen she had faithfully supported each and every game throughout her life. Peering onto the field as the players warmed up, she recognized longtime Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera. Pierce jumped to her feet, and at that moment it hit her. She was finally at a Yankees game.
For those who grow up in the same city as their favorite professional sports team, attending a game is rarely an extraordinary event. However, for Pierce, who lives in Layton, Utah, this was an experience that she will never forget.
The significance of attending the game runs much deeper. It was a dream she shared with her late father, one they were not able to realize before his passing. As Pierce soaked in the moment on that rainy night in Denver, she said she felt her dad's presence and knew this remarkable event was for them to share.
“He stood the rain and the cold just alongside me,” Pierce said, reminiscing about her father's desire to see the Yankees. “I think he was enjoying the thought of me being there representing both of us, so that's all I could do for him.”
The game itself reminded Pierce of the special bond she shared with her father. As a small child she often climbed atop his lap and listened intently to the stories he told of the latest Yankee scores and news. The pair would sit together listening to every game broadcast on the radio and dream of traveling to New York someday to see the legendary team with their own eyes.
“Seeing them in Yankee Stadium would have been a dream,” Pierce said. As she thought of her father, she fought back the small tears that formed in the corners of her eyes. “I can just imagine what it would have been like to be there (with him).”
Although Pierce could not travel to see a game in the iconic Yankee Stadium, she enjoyed every minute her Denver experience. Throughout the years, circumstances in her life had stood in the way of seeing the Yankees. After working for 36 years just to get by and raising three kids with her husband Murray, she said finances for such a trip were hard to come by.
Pierce never gave up hope, though. She continued to watch every game on TV and passionately show her dedication to the Yankees. On their 57th wedding anniversary, she and Murray were surprised by their children who gave them a trip to see the Yankees in Colorado. There was not another gift in the world that would have brought more joy to the lifelong fan.
“Sure there's going to be a lot of things that you're not going to be able to accomplish in your lifetime, but the ones that you do, enjoy them,” Pierce said. “This joy sometimes doesn't come very often, when it does, you have to enjoy it.”
That evening was perfect for Yvonne. To her, it didn't matter that it poured down rain and she had to fuss with an oversized poncho. And the final score? She didn't even mention if the Yankees won. What was important to Pierce was carrying on her father's legacy and renewing the shared bond formed by their love of the Yankees.
Whitney O'Bannon is a new media sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow on Twitter at @whitney_oban.