The Power of Tradition

photo (1)We live in a world where everyone and every brand seeks, and sometimes attains, their 15 minutes of fame. The pace of change is so dizzying that mega brands come and go in a nanosecond. AOL, Blackberry, Myspace were all mega brands just a few years ago which have now lost their luster.

But as they say, a true icon stands the test of time.

Today’s Struming is about a personal favorite—the New York Yankees, a “Ruthian” brand which has evolved and still stands above all others in sports, regardless of their record in a particular season. Obviously winning 27 World Championships is part of the allure.

There are many aspects to the Yankees brand. Their logos, Yankee Stadium with its facade, the uniforms, and star players who’ve wore the Yankee pinstripes. Once a year the Yankees welcome back a large group of former players to celebrate their past:

Old Timers Day.

There’s nothing quite like Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium. I respect the history of every major league team in every sport, but there’s none with the richness and tradition of the New York Yankees. Even Yankee haters recognize their tradition. Interestingly despite my frequent visits to the Bronx (roughly 12-15 times annually) I had never gone to Old Timers Day until this season. Our daughter, Carolyn, a rabid fan and a highly knowledgeable social media community manager for a PR firm, Taylor, focused on sports marketing, made sure we attended this year’s festivities and I am so glad we did.

There were many Yankee greats at this year’s game including Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, the remaining mega stars from the 1949-1964 era when the Yankees played in 13 of 15 World Series, winning 10, including 5 in a row! Yogi in particular is now a larger than life legend with 10 rings, most of all time. Alas I fear that there may not be many Old Timers appearances left for Yogi and Whitey.

girlandgooseGoose Gossage, received special recognition at Old Timers Day with a ceremony and plaque in Monument Park. Goose, shown here with Yankee fan great Carolyn Strum, was a Yankee great during the 70s/80s and is a Hall of Famer.

2014 is a year of celebration of Yankees greats, recognizing Tino Martinez, Goose, and Paul O’Neill with plaques and also retiring Joe Torre’s #6 later this season after his Hall of Fame induction. And every baseball fan appreciates that the end is near for future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, who is playing his last season in Pinstripes. The 2014 Yankees are flawed with some glaring weaknesses yet some significant strengths. Their slightly better than .500 record is a reflection of their inconsistent play to date, so it’s unclear whether this year’s Yankees will be playing post-season baseball or golf in the fall. It would be a shame if Jeter’s final year ended in September rather than stretching into the fall where “Mr. November” thrives.

Regardless, there is no substitute for Yankees tradition, because there is no franchise like the Yankees. Nothing like an Old Timers Game to remind me.

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