Friday, April 27, 2001
New York --- Yankee Stadium was silent when Marc Sirkin delivered the pitch of his life. A handful of his father's ashes landed at the foot of a plaque honoring baseball great Mickey Mantle behind the left-center field wall --- a perfect strike on the day that Harold Sirkin's dying dream came true, his son said.
''My dad was crazy about Mantle,'' Marc Sirkin said. ''I just know he was up there smiling down at us.''
Four days after Harold Sirkin, 56, died after a 20-year battle with multiple sclerosis, he joined his childhood hero and 21 other Yankee legends memorialized in Monument Park. The former accountant's family spread his remains last Saturday in a ceremony held without the approval of stadium officials before a game.
He fulfilled a fantasy his father shared five years ago, shortly before the disease paralyzed Harold Sirkin.
As a 16-year-old living near the stadium in the Bronx, Harold Sirkin was mesmerized by Mantle's 1961 race with teammate Roger Maris to break Babe Ruth's record of 60 home runs in a season.
From their home in the suburb of Mount Vernon, New York, Sirkin drove Marc to every opening game during the late 1970s and early 1980s. As the chronic disorder forced Sirkin to use a wheelchair, ''He was really bitter for a while,'' said his widow, Linda Sirkin. "He couldn't read or listen to music, his mind blanked out for very long stretches."
After a hospital emergency in 1996, Sirkin told his wife: " 'Wouldn't it be glorious if I could have my ashes spread over Yankee Stadium?' '' she said. ''I held that thought closely.''
After Sirkin died of pneumonia, relatives said they received permission to visit Monument Park before the game. Sonny Hight, vice president of operations at Yankee Stadium, said he didn't realize what the Sirkins had planned. Stadium policy is to turn down such requests, he said.
Sirkin's remains won't be disturbed, Hight said.