As the brakes squeal, the muffled voice of the New York subway tells you the whereabouts: 161st Street. Yankee Stadium.
But, really, no introduction is needed. At the same time the voice chimes in over the crackled speakers, the uptown No. 4 train emerges from the dark tunnel and comes to an above-ground stop. The gigantic stadium is to the right, in plain sight.
There are certain places a sports fan must see before time is up. Lawrence's own Allen Fieldhouse is on that list. So is Wrigley Field in Chicago. A big-time college football stadium - Notre Dame or Michigan, perhaps - belongs as well.
Yankee Stadium deserves the honor, too. This venue is a little different, though: The Bronx Bombers incidentally have shoved their home park way up the list, in the urgent category.
There are only this year and next. In 2009, the venerable Yankee Stadium we see (maybe too often) on television will be gone, replaced by a newer, more polished and surely less-charming money-maker. It's sad to see such a landmark go, but there are still roughly 120 games left in the next two years to go get your own memory of the House that Babe Ruth Built.
My father and I paid our respects earlier this month. And to tell the truth, there are dozens of reasons why it's time for Yankee Stadium to go. The concourses are dirty and cramped. Our seats, three rows from the top of the upper deck, might have looked down on the Empire State Building. We couldn't see a large chunk of fair territory down the left-field line. The ushers love their authority. The sound system, while loud, wasn't crystal clear.
But, man, what a place. Monument Park is a reminder of all the great history, from the Babe to Joe DiMaggio to Reggie Jackson. The players and fans acknowledge each other in the top of the first inning during "roll call." When the right-field bleacher creatures chanted "Der-ek Je-ter!" Jeter gave them a wave between pitches, knowing the chant wouldn't stop until he did. The creatures, now satisfied, picked on Alex Rodriguez next.
The grounds crew did the "YMCA" dance while smoothing out the infield between an inning. The subways coming and going hummed behind the right-field stands, a reminder that the big city surrounds you. Afterward, a homeless man waited outside, holding a sign saying "Why lie? I need a beer."
It was all so neat. Nothing resonated more, though, than the iconic public-address announcing of Bob Sheppard. The Yankee Stadium announcer since 1951, Sheppard's golden voice caused tingles every time he talked. Hearing "third baseman : Alex : Rodriguez" will stick in my memory more than anything else.
I'm no Yankees fan. In fact, I understand hating the Yankees is a must if you're not one of the 8 million living in the city. It still couldn't stop me from visiting one of the last great links to the sport's brilliant past.
Do yourself a favor, if you have the means. Take a trip to New York, see the sights and set a night to board the No. 4 train toward Yankee Stadium.
You won't need the subway voice to tell you where it is. You'll see it, looming larger than life for just a little longer.