Some of my best days as a kid were spent in Milwaukee County Stadium's section 13, row 12, seats 1 through 8 - the corporate season tickets frequently secured by my neighbor's dad. One of my greatest regrets as an adult was not securing actual seats once they tore County Stadium down in 2002. Not necessarily those exact seats. Sentimental value notwithstanding, they were in the lower grandstand and constructed of plastic. You had to get into the far reaches of the upper deck to find the old-timers - their wooden slats bearing engraved seat numbers and the chipped relief of numerous coats of green paint applied over the years. These seats had seen not only the Brewers' short-lived success in the stadium, but the Milwaukee Braves' and Green Bay Packers' heydays, too. So I read with interest news last week that New York Yankees fans had filed a class-action lawsuit over seats salvaged from last year's demolition of old Yankee Stadium. Lead plaintiff John Lefkus, for one, spent more than $2,000 to purchase the exact pair of seats he had occupied as a 23-year season-ticket-holder. But Lefkus isn't buying their authenticity. He bases his claim that stadium seats were dismantled and reassembled using random parts on the evidence that his own seats were put together using new and old hardware and different armrests, and then repainted in the wrong color. One even featured the wrong seat number. You've heard of Norm Abram's "New Yankee Workshop"? This sounds like Old Yankee Chop Shop. The class seeks more than $5 million in damages from the Yankees, Steiner Sports Memorabilia, Steiner Sports Marketing and Yankee-Steiner Collectibles, alleging false advertising, deceptive practices and breach of warranty, according to Courthouse News Service.
It has come to be expected that before a stadium comes down, just about everything in it - from hot dog rollers to trough-style urinals - will be put up for sale. Still, few items give fans more nostalgic comfort than seating. On ebay, fans can shop for seats from a number of defunct stadiums (Shea, Busch II) and even one still in operation (Dodger). A winning bid of $249 claimed a single rickety-looking box seat from Detroit's Tiger Stadium last night, while another seller sought $3,000 for a rare triple - three seats from Philadelphia's Connie Mack Stadium. A former college professor of mine once received a seat from Cleveland Stadium, the longtime home of his beloved Indians and Browns, as a wedding gift (talk about getting lucky). The romantic gift-giver, a fellow native Ohioan, initially tried to sneak into the demolition site and simply steal one, but the work crew threw him out. I can't recall what County Stadium's seats were being sold for originally, but I do remember hearing about a guy who tried to wrench one loose during the final home stand, and how he wound up paying more in fines than had he simply waited and purchased a seat on the up and up. Today's prices can vary greatly. This weekend I tracked down the true County Stadium relics, just as I remembered them, for sale online through a specialty dealer at between $350 and $499 per seat. Another outlet sells singles for $199 and doubles for $399. Now that's more in my ballpark.