The Nation Reports

Behind Enemy Baselines: Yankee Stadium

[Edit.: This post was submitted by Cory Juliano (nyredfanatic). He and his wife, pictured below, attended Friday night’s game at Yankee Stadium. Thanks! — spm]

Since moving to Long Island four years ago, I only get one chance a year to see the Reds play when they square off against the Mets. As I side bar, I really love Citi Field and enjoy going there. I highly recommend seeing  a game there if you have the opportunity. This year I got the privilege of seeing the Reds twice thanks to inter-league play.

This was my second trip to Yankee Stadium and it was a much more pleasant experience. My previous experience was a rough one. A baseball game with the temperatures over 100 degrees with a wife who was seven months pregnant was probably not the best idea. I never really had any desire to take another trip to Yankee Stadium until a good friend offered us to go with him and his family.

Fighting NY traffic on a Friday is never fun which proved to be the biggest frustration of the evening. Paying $20 to park several blocks, one mall, a giant parking garage, and three little league diamonds away was a close second. The surroundings of Yankee stadium are really nothing to take note of. A few sports bars and a lot of little venders selling #2 jerseys were the only other real attractions going on.

One thing that stood out to me as a visitor as we approached the stadium was that those fans LOVE their Yankee jersey. I spent the walk tricking the daughter of my friend into rooting for Reds players since she could not name anyone on the roster other than Derek Jeter. She was all set to be yelling “Go Billy Hamilton” until my wife couldn’t contain he laughter anymore.

Yankee Stadium is beautiful and clean from the outside. They have done a good job making it look like a museum or historical building that occasionally hosts baseball games. This is vastly different than a lot of the stadiums I have been to. It was not necessarily “fan friendly.” They let the fact that it is Yankee Stadium speak for itself and have the game entertain people. And it sort of works.

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The one thing setting Yankee Stadium apart is walking in and “feeling” baseball history around you. They have done a good job capturing the spirit of the Yankee tradition even in a newer ballpark. You know it is a new park but you get the feeling that you are walking into one of the great stadiums of history.

It really makes me wish I had a chance to see the original. Getting a glimpse of Monument Park, seeing the flags and banners of all 27 of their championships, pictures of the old greats, and retired numbers beyond the left centerfield seats make you realize this really is a great organization … no matter how hard that is to admit. I could have done without the giant wall painting of George Steinbrenner behind the bleacher seats.

All of that nostalgia was put to rest a bit when I noticed the ticket prices! No wonder they can afford nearly any player on the planet. The prices of the concessions were not much better. $9.75 for a beer. When I joked about the price the vendor assured me, “Yea, but this baby is ice cold!” I wonder if I could have struck a deal for a lukewarm one. Although the $5 Johnny Rockets vanilla milkshake may have been worth it. That thing was awesome. This was a slight cover for the mediocre $12 chicken fingers and fries.

The fans I ran into at Yankee Stadium were all friendly to a guy wearing a Johnny Bench jersey. They didn’t seem to care too much when I admittedly cheered a little louder than necessary for Brayan Pena’s first of 2 homeruns. This sparked one of the more humorous conversations of the night. I was sitting next to an elderly couple wearing Yankee jerseys. I cannot stress the jerseys enough, they were everywhere. The older gentleman leaned over after I had stopped cheering and sat down and asked “Is that the guy who just played in the All-Star game for you?” I chuckled and told him no, he is actually our back-up catcher and our starting catcher was the All-Star. He then said “Oh, so you have him playing DH in the American League games.” I laughed a little harder and said “No, he is playing first base since Joey Votto is hurt.” This started several minutes of conversation on how the Reds did not in fact have a backup first baseman. Amazingly, he was shocked that a team would not have a backup first baseman. It was fun hearing from a Yankees fan about what he thought his team would have done if they lost their star player for an extended amount of time. Go out and get someone else to play! Ah the Yankee way.

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The other thing I will remember about my trip to Yankee Stadium was seeing Derek Jeter play in his final season. I have never heard a stadium cheer for a player as loud as Yankee fans cheer for #2. It is incredible … and obnoxiously overdone. The ovation was nice when he was announced on his first plate appearance. It is a really cool touch how they use a voice recording of Bob Sheppard, the late PA announcer of fifty some years, to call Jeter to the plate. Just another touch of trying to keep the Yankee tradition front and center.

The applause Jeter got anytime he was did anything on the field got a little old. I have never heard 47k people go nuts when a SS makes a routine play. They went crazy when a ball hopped over Todd Frazier’s glove for what should have been an error. The place erupted when he scored a run. Jeter made a nice play down the third base line on a blooper by Billy Hamilton that you would have thought was a replay to his running into the stands to make a catch based upon the cheers from the crowd. He still got cheered when he made a fielding error. I really don’t think he can do anything wrong in the eyes of Yankee fans. I will give them credit though. Yankees fans do know how to treat the great ones even if it is a little overdone.

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The fans really do care about their team. It was fun seeing fans have a good time and supporting their team. It helps when they are winning. I was surprised to see how many stuck around to listen to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” play several times over after the Yanks sealed the 4-3 victory. My wife and I waited several minutes to get our picture taken on the railing with the field as our backdrop along with loads of other fans. The fans we were surrounded by through the game gave their condolences for the loss and even offered up some “better luck next times”. Despite Yankee Stadium not really being a fun, fan-friendly stadium the Yankee fans were, well, friendly and fun.

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19 thoughts on “Behind Enemy Baselines: Yankee Stadium

  1. Cory, Did the Yankee fans you talked to seem to understand that their team spends a whole lot more than just about everyone else and the advantage that has given them over the years?

    • From my experience with Yankee fans that is always an odd topic. They seem to know that their clubs spend a lot more money on players but they usually end up saying “Well, everyone else should just spend more money”… As if money just grows on trees and teams should just be able to spend at will to get what they want.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I too made the trip up the coast (about 8 hours) with my boy to see the Friday and Saturday games. I echo your thoughts about the stadium and their fans. The stadium was great. I really don’t understand why they don’t modernize the surrounding area. While we could walk the .7 miles to the park from our hotel, I wouldn’t dare walk back (took a cab). It was THAT scary. I recommend taking the subway and staying somewhere else.

    Previous trips to Baltimore or Washington produced a large contingent of Reds jerseys, maybe 25-30%. However, here, like you said, Reds gear was hard to spot….maybe as little as 2-3 %

    • Yea the surroundings were not that great. Really nothing special. It doesn’t have a feel like the city wants you to stay around after the games. I haven’t been to GABP since they have updated the surrounding areas but it is nice.

      But I do remember from out last trip there if you park on the wrong end of the stadium it can feel a little sketchy after the game

      • Since many people live in the “surroundings” around the Stadium, I wonder how they should go about “updating” them. Urban renewal? Anyhow, just because most of the folks around the park are black or brown, does not make the surroundings “sketchy” or “scary”. Its New York, embrace the diversity.

        In any even, Manhattan is a 15 minute subway ride away. Why would anyone want to “stay around after the games”.

        • Not saying anything about people’s race at all. Just saying there are some parts that may be scary for some. No problems in that. And not everyone enjoys Manhattan.

          To the north of the stadium there are homes and apartments. To the south there is really nothing. A large mall and some ball diamonds. There simply isn’t a lot to draw people to stay around after the games.

        • Witnessed on 3 occasions in a .7 mile walk to the park, people sitting on the sidewalks doing drugs. Thus, taking a .7 mile cab ride back to the hotel after the game. Sketchy is putting it mildly.

  3. The “ball diamonds”, handball courts and squash courts which are on the site of the old stadium are for the community. They are utilized 24/7. When the new stadium was built, members of the community lobbied very hard for these ball diamonds.

    “may be scary for some.”
    What causes the area to be “scary”?

    “And not everyone enjoys Manhattan.”
    What’s not to enjoy? Great restaurants, great art, great theatre, etc, etc. You’d rather hang around the Bronx?

    • Ha. “Rather hang out in the Bronx?”… What, are you saying there is something wrong with the Bronx… Come on man, embrace the diversity! Just playing around.

      In context of the stadium experience, which is what this is about, there just isn’t a lot to keep someone around the stadium after the game. The vibe is “thanks for coming to the game… Head on home”. Restaurants, bars, and other things around a stadium invite people to stay and enjoy the atmosphere after a game adding to the overall experience. I haven’t been to GABP in 4 plus years but I have heard they have done an amazing job at building this up.

      But in all honesty I am just not a huge fan of Manhatten. I’m sure all the things you listed are great. Just not my thing. Way over priced. Way too many people. Just my opinion. I’d rather sit on a beach eating a slice of pizza and a bagel attempting to fit in with the Long Island folk!

      The ball diamonds are a neat touch. I initially had something in my write up about them and how great it would have been to play there as a little kid with the stadium as your batters eye. I think it is a great idea and I’m all for giving the community something to do and a park to be proud of.

      Not really going to go too much into the idea of what is and isn’t “scary” to some. Different people have different levels of comfort.

    • Mutaman, see comments above about scary. But I did enjoy going to Manhatten after the game Saturday, and did some “touristy”. The place was buzzing

  4. Thanks for the write-up, Cory.

    For anyone interested, Wright Thompson did a wonderful piece on the new Yankee Stadium titled Seats of Gold:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=091005yankeestickets

    It is a beautiful edifice, a tribute to the old place on it’s outside, but something else on the inside. It’s a mix of tradition and modern day excess. Custom and commerce.

    It’s also a concrete example of cognitive dissonance–a palace in the middle of the poor and run down South Bronx. When I took my children there in 2012 for a Reds game, I paid $45 to have my car parked and looked after while I was inside. It wasn’t even parked in a lot.

    Going to a Yankee game is safe because the city protects that investment. Cops are abundantly visible and the 4 train back to Manhattan is a short walk across the street. But,ti’s not a place you want to hang out in after the game.

    • Actually lots of good folks in the South Bronx. Not that “poor and run down”. Worked there for many years, and still “hang out” on occasion.
      Nobody’s going to melt.

    • Haven’t been to GABP in several years. I know that stuff is going to be over priced at games… But $10 is up there

      • Yup, $9.75 for a bottle as you mentioned. I had one 20 oz. draft for $11.00. The nachos with pulled pork that I had were wonderful…despite the $12 price tag.

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