New York, New York Mets, Yankees Agree to Odd July 8 Doubleheader: One Game at Shea Stadium, One Game at Yankee Stadium

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NEW YORK -- This is Ernie Banks' dream, taken one step further.

Banks loved doubleheaders because they meant he could play two games in one day. Now, the Mets and Yankees are about to play two in one day, but in two different New York ballparks.

With all parties agreeing yesterday, a June rainout will become part of a unique baseball bonanza for New York: A day game between the Mets and Yankees at Shea Stadium on July 8, followed a few hours later by a night game between the same teams, 10 miles away at Yankee Stadium.

This is the ultimate day-night doubleheader, the solution to a schedule squeeze created by a rainout last Sunday, the final game of the season's first interleague series between the teams at Yankee Stadium.

It would be the first doubleheader between teams at different ballparks in 97 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, baseball's statistician.

On Sept. 7, 1903, which was Labor Day, the New York Giants beat the Brooklyn Superbas (the team's nickname eventually became the Dodgers) 6-4 in the morning in front of 9,300 at Washington Park in Brooklyn. In the afternoon, rookie Henry Schmidt's four-hitter led Brooklyn to a 3-0 win in front of 23,623 at the Polo Grounds. That split doubleheader was on the original NL schedule.

"I think it's fine," Yankees manager Joe Torre said before last night's game against Boston. "It'll be different. It takes you back to the old days when they relished doubleheaders. They loved to rain out games so you could play a doubleheader on a Sunday and get more people."

Yogi Berra, who managed both teams, appreciated that issue. "They don't want to get cheated out of an attendance," he said.

Berra recalled playing day-night doubleheaders with the Yankees three or four times in Boston.

"It's lousy, but sometimes you got to do it," he said. "You hang around and play cards between games."

The teams have just one mutual day off, Aug. 31, the rest of the season. But playing in New York that day would be a problem for the Yankees, who have a night game in Seattle on Aug. 30. A makeup game that day also would give the Yankees a stretch of 41 consecutive days on which they have games.

The alternative is to make up the game when the Yankees and Mets play at Shea in July. That series begins with a night game July 7 followed by day games on Saturday and Sunday, July 8-9. The proximity of the stadiums makes the unusual double dip possible.

Friday was ruled out because of traffic concerns. Traveling from Queens to the Bronx over the Triborough Bridge on a Friday evening in July is no picnic, even with a police escort. That left Saturday or Sunday -- which is likely to be switched to a night game by ESPN.

The teams agreed on the Saturday doubleheader and the players' association approved it.

"We think it's a great idea," said Gene Orza, associate general counsel for the union after talking with player representatives for both teams. …