It’s a common goal to see all 30 Major-League ballparks, and I suppose it’s a goal for me as well, though I’m in no rush to plow through all of them. By my count, I’ve visited 12 ballparks; the Kingdome, Safeco Field, the Oakland Coliseum, AT&T Park in San Francisco, Coors Field, Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field (Comiskey Park), Wrigley Field, the Metrodome, new Busch Stadium, Miller Park, old County Stadium (Milwaukee), and would have gone to Jacobs Field in Cleveland had it not snowed in 2007. Lucky number 13 is the new Yankee Stadium up in the Bronx.
In the fine Section 331 tradition, I have pictures for you! There are a handful of trains that send you to just outside Yankee Stadium, and my folks and I caught the D Line train up to about two blocks from the ballpark. We were a little surprised to see so many Orioles fans on the train, but perhaps it was no coincidence, as the train platform was decked out in Orioles colors:
Like Wrigleyville in Chicago around the home of the Cubs, the neighborhood around Yankee Stadium certainly was aware it was next to a ballpark. Take for evidence this storefront roll door featuring Satchel Paige:
After we walked a block and got under the elevated 4 train, we were in clear sight of the ballpark. We entered in through Gate 6 and the ballpark’s “Great Hall.”
Though you can’t see the game from here, it’s a nice wide concourse to meet up with folks pregame, and it’s open to the outdoors, which makes it feel even larger. After milling around there for a bit, I took some video so you could see what it’s like to enter the ballpark:
No batting practice was taken in advance of the afternoon game, so we walked around to Monument Park. Located in center field, you need to walk around and into a concrete tunnel under the bleachers in order to access it. The Yankees honor all of their players with retired numbers there, and the ownership from early on which transformed the Yankees into the Yankees in the 20s and 30s.
Here’s the thing, though: the monument for George Steinbrenner is larger than any three of the players’, and it just reminds you of how much you hate the Yankees if you’re not a fan of the team. A Steinbrenner memorial also stands above the right-center-field bleachers.
I was actually really pleased with the upper-deck. The upper level is split so you get a really open feel when walking around the concourse, though you can’t exactly see the game from the concourse since the game is so far below you. The tickets I had were below the split, which were nice for view of the game, but offered no protection from the sun.
My mom was pretty well affected by the 80-degree heat and humidity, so she staked out a spot above the split, where I joined her late in the game after I’d spent two-plus hours getting burnt and talking to Yankee fans. I was glad I did, though, since it led to this shot:
When walking the concourse, though, the Yankees were pretty regularly letting you know that other people were paying more money for a more exclusive experience at the game, like this terrace in the upper concourse that was only available to suite ticket holders:
As far as the game was concerned, I couldn’t believe I didn’t see a home run in a ballpark that was so small. Baltimore scored two in the first and wound up with a 4-1 victory, beating CC Sabathia on his birthday. The first inning took 30 minutes as a total of 12 batters came up to hit between each side. Only five batters reached base in the second-through-sixth innings, which got us back on track for a 2-hour, 50-minute game.
I was also interested in seeing how the Yanks’ game operations manage their inning-breaks and entertainment. It struck me that they couldn’t decide if they wanted to be serious or play by the Rule of Fun.
The Yankees had several pregame presentations, but despite the fact that one of them involved honoring two of the Tuskegee Airmen, there just wasn’t a lot of fanfare about them. In fact, the Yankees didn’t even have a solo singer or musician come out for the National Anthem; instead they used a recording of the U.S. Army band, and I was shocked. I haven’t been to a pro game where that’s happened before, but the fans behind me told me it was a common occurrence.
All told, I was pretty happy with Yankee Stadium even for some of its faults. I was probably a bit lucky to go on a Thursday afternoon when there was a ticket discount, since cost has got to be the single-worst part of The Stadium: even discounted upper-level tickets were still $24 each.
In the next few days I’ll be sure to give you some more on Yankee Stadium, Cooperstown, and Boston, where I’ll be visiting Fenway Park.