Category Archives: new york yankees

Ballparks for the New York Yankees.

[New] Yankee Stadium, The Bronx, New York

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Yankee Stadium, The Bronx, NY

Number of games: 1
First game: June 24, 2021 (Yankees 8, Royals 1)

I found the old Yankee Stadium not to be terribly special: I liked hanging out with the ghosts, but didn’t find much special about it. So when I returned to New York to see the new place, I wasn’t expecting much. Turns out I was pleasantly

surprised. The Yankees have managed to create a place where they respect the team’s history without going over the top about it.

Well, with one exception. But we’ll get to that later.

I got off the D train and turned the wrong way, thus finding myself a few blocks away from the ballpark in the Bronx. I have to say that I really like the cell phone for this reason more than any when I travel. Yeah, I look like the tourist that I am: I mean, I’m carrying a scorebook and wearing my Gwinnett Stripers hat. But instead of wandering around aimlessly, I can sit down and look like I’m just checking out my phone. As such, I got turned back west to the ballpark.

And this is how I discovered one of the things I like most about Yankee Stadium. It is totally embedded into its neighborhood. There are actual, local businesses surrounding the place, like, right across the street from it. Sure, there’s a McDonalds, but there are also sports bars and actual mom-and-pop businesses to be had. I don’t know whether this is different from how it was when I visited the old place in 1999: truthfully, I didn’t poke around

the ballpark back then, in part because of fear and in part because of time. But today, I did, and I liked it.

I especially liked Heritage Park across the street. Replacing a baseball stadium with a baseball park is nice enough: I enjoyed seeing a couple of guys hitting fungoes in the new place. The day-to-day business of life went on: I encountered a couple of day care groups walking through the park. I was wondering whether the biggest of the fields was the location

of the infield of the old place: turns out it was close, as second base on the new field is approximately where home plate was at the old stadium. It felt like they got the new park right, with lots of moments of Yankee Stadium history (games, concerts, Papal visits) embedded in stone in the ground. But I felt like, in the nine years since they had put this down, they hadn’t put enough love into it: weeds were in the outfield and the stone plaques in the ground had been trodden over enough that they were barely readable. Nonetheless, a baseball history guy like me could wander around that park for a while thinking of the ghosts. I do wonder whether the ghosts stay on the old site or if they move across the street into the new place. I suppose, as ghosts, they can do whatever they please.

I didn’t expect restraint in the way that the Yankees handled their 27 championships (all of them, incidentally, in the old place), but I found something like it. The only real reference I saw to the championships was in sets of photos ribboning

the main concourse, with every championship from 1923 to 2009 commemorated in a few photos of the teams from each year. Seeing a photo of (I think) Scott Brosius jumping high leads me to remember images I didn’t know I had stored in my brain, and looking at the old-time photos: well, seeing the joy of a championship feels timeless to me. Yankee Stadium takes advantage of that timelessness and puts it all together in one place. Even something relatively simple like the food court gives a nod to that history. Above the concession stands in the main food court, uncaptioned, are photos of great Yankees eating. There’s Reggie Jackson with a Reggie bar. There are Berra and DiMaggio eating Italian. Eating is one thing we all share, so it’s cool to see these great ballplayer humanized as I’m about to grab my popcorn. It leads to the idea of “I’m just like them,” only…well, nobody’s going to put a photo of me up on the ballpark, so I guess not.

Then, Monument Park. It was pretty much exactly what you’d expect. The monuments look exactly like they do on TV. It’s cool to be there–I took a shot of DiMaggio,

my dad’s favorite childhood player, and texted it to him. I liked watching people responding, sometimes with restrained emotion, to seeing the monuments of their favorite player.

But over it all is a MASSIVE monument to George Steinbrenner. I found it garish–offensively so. Not only is George’s monument bigger than that of all of the players–maybe four times the size–but it is even bigger to the 9/11 monument they have back there. It’s appropriate, as egotistical as the guy is: he actually thought he was better and more important than Ruth and DiMaggio and Mattingly…and the heroes who ran into the Twin Towers. I just can’t get over that. As relatively restrained as everything is in the ballpark, that’s how unrestrained George is. He ruins Monument Park.

Right above Monument Park is a place they called the Pepsi Lounge where my ticket gave me access. I didn’t choose to stay there during the ballgame, but I can see the appeal. The Pepsi Lounge is inside the batter’s eye. I had never thought of this as a location where people could sit before

(although it certainly happened before batter’s eyes were blacked out sometime around my youth). They have signs banning flash photography, which is fair enough. But to sit somewhere where I can look straight at the catcher’s glove? That might be worth a return trip.

For this trip, I perched my buddy David and me in the front row of the fourth deck. A sign helpfully said that I could not stand next to the railing, so I army-crawled to my seat to stay in compliance. (No, not really.) It was a nice seat and a fun day. I miss Bob Sheppard, but the current PA guy, Paul Olden, did fine.


I went in an off year for the Yankees. My experience there in 1999, when the Yankees were in the middle of three straight titles, was that fans were surly. I was wondering what it might be like to be in the midst of an off year: maybe instead of a kid shooting me with a water pistol, I’d experience heavier ammo. Not this time. The Yankees busted out to a big lead early, hit three home runs, and never gave their fans a chance to get mad.

Then, after the victory, Sinatra. “New York, New York.” I was departing Yankee Stadium for the last time on this trip, and I

asked David, my native companion, an important question. I know that if I make it there in New York, I’ll make it anywhere. I was at the end of my trip. Key question:

Had I made it there?

David, who is definitely not a tourist, said that yes, I had. Since I hadn’t been mugged or conned, I had made it there.

So there you have it. I can officially make it anywhere.

Nice ballpark, Yankees! I will be delighted to return one day.

BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:

Aaron Judge had the big day, going three-for-three with two walks, a double, and a home run. Luke Voit and Gary Sanchez also homered.

Jameson Taillon pitched effectively for the Yankees to get the win.

Hanser Alberto has two hits for the Royals.

[Old] Yankee Stadium

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Photo courtesy of NYCTourist.com. Used by permission.

[Old] Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY

Number of games:  1
First and last game:  July 22, 1999 (Yankees 5, Devil Rays 4)

Old Yankee Stadium was knocked down in 2009 and 2010.

Dad–relax!  Yes, I took the subway, but I was with a friend, and I went to a day game.  I was never in any kind of physical danger.  Well, maybe once, but we’ll get to that later.

The stadium itself isn’t at all beautiful or special in architecture, but I think people’s love of Yankee Stadium (including mine) comes not from what is there but from what has happened there.  To me, there’s exactly one thing that ties me to Mantle and Maris and Guidry and, somehow, even to Ruth…Bob Sheppard.  The man has this wonderful and timeless voice, and I don’t understand why more people who share his job don’t emulate him.  Those long, long pauses between each word can make everything sound so beautiful, majestic, important, historic, even if you know he’s just saying the name of some Tampa Bay Devil Ray you’ve never heard of before and will never hear of again, a guy about to strike out in the second inning of a completely routine game on a chilly, rainy July afternoon, a game between a first-place team and a last-place team.  “The center fielder……….number fifty…….Terrell……….Lowery.”   And all I can think is…my GOD…it’s Terrell Lowery!  How critically important a moment this is!  Bob Sheppard makes this happen.  Not only does he talk slowly by pausing between each word, he pronounces the name just slowly enough so that he–and everyone listening–can absolutely savor every syllable, every phoneme.  This is a man who loves words and loves names to the point where Sports Illustrated once published his all-time favorite and least favorite baseball names to pronounce.  (The best:  Salome Barojas.  He loves the Hispanic names.  The worst:  Mickey Klutts.)

Other PA announcers don’t have the same style, and would probably be fired if they did.  I think this is a terrible shame.  Think of the difference between the way “The shortstop…number three…Alex Rodriguez” is pronounced if Alex is on the home team or on the visiting team.  I find this difference to be ridiculous and borderline offensive.  Is it the PA announcer’s job to tell me when to cheer?  I can tolerate organ playing, music, even a little of the infernal rhythmic clapping…but are fans such morons that the PA announcer has to tell us, through vocal inflection, which are the good guys and which are the bad?  I’m certainly not.  (Incidentally, I feel the same way about scoreboards which say “Noise Now” or “On Your Feet” or other instructional tips for fans.  I will make noise when I am moved to make noise…not because The Man is telling me to.)

Bob Sheppard can’t do what he does for too much longer–he has been doing it day in and day out for close to 50 years–and I’ll miss him when he’s gone, because it will mean the cheerleader PA announcer will have won out over his wonderful voice and classy technique, same for home and visitor.

Yankee fans, frankly, scare the hell out of me.  This game is in 1999, mind you, so the Yankees are in first place and in a stretch of World Series victories.  They never trail Tampa Bay in the game I watch, although it’s a close game.  And they are absolutely ruthless to their home team.  Andy Pettitte gets it for giving up a couple of runs and a homer, Bernie Williams gets it for a groundout with a runner in scoring position (even though Bernie had homered earlier), others get it for other small sins…the negative energy in the place was amazing.

Oh–about that possible near-death experience…it had been a drizzly afternoon, and my high-school buddy and I were a little chilly and were occasionally getting specked by individual drops of water.  Is the rain starting up again?  Are we under a wet stadium light?  After a few innings, I finally catch it…there’s a ten-or-eleven year old kid up there, about eight rows above us, spraying random people with a water gun.  I know how to handle this…I’ve taught sixth grade, so I know what to do with boys who misbehave.  I give him my stern teacher glare and say “Knock it off!”  Game over, I’m sure.  But just as soon as the words are out of my mouth, the instant it’s too late to take them back, I notice that his dad is next to him, egging him on.  What the hell’s the deal with that?  A dad encouraging his son to spray strangers at a ballgame?  Amazing.  Good old New York.  So as soon as I give the kid a glare, I’m worried that the dad is going to come after me, and there’s gonna be a huge fight, and I’ve never been in a fight, and this dad probably is in one every weekend, and the New Yorkers will side with him, and I’ll be in some hospital in the Bronx, and I won’t make it to my Saturday game at Shea…Well, it didn’t happen.  The kid stopped his water gun, at least with me.  Score one for the teacher glare.

So, to review–the historic nature of the grass that Gehrig and Ruth and the rest of them ran on is palpable and impressive, and is aided by Bob Sheppard’s voice…I hope he is not replaced with a cheerleader.  The teams are usually so good that they’re worth the trip.  In short, like New York itself, Yankee Stadium is a wonderful place to visit, and I look forward to visiting again (maybe for a night game…eeek!) but it scares me a little with its negative karma, and I’m glad it’s not my home stadium.

BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:

Bernie Williams and Fred McGriff homer.

Bryan Rekar, who I saw make his first major league start (a win) in Colorado in 1995, gets the loss.

Wade Boggs pinch-hits in what I believe to be his last appearance in Yankee Stadium.  He grounds to second.

(Written August 2001.  Revised July 2009.)