Via this blog, discussion forums, and email, I’ve been able to “meet” some really super Yankees fans. One of them is “Vinny.”
Vinny grew up in Rhode Island and moved to the Montague, Masschusetts, area when he was 22-years old. So, he’s been in Red Sox country his entire life – which is an interesting spot for a Yankees fan. Here’s an example of that, via a story he recently shared with me:
In 1969, the Yankees lost a big lead against the Red Sox. I knew I was going to be in for it the next day. So, I decided to count how people said something to me the next day. And, I said to them, “You are #15. You are #19.” Between school and then later softball after school, I had 29 people say something to me about that game.
Vinny recently made his first trip to the new Yankee Stadium – to see the Yankees play Boston, of all teams, and documented his experience. It’s a cool read. Granted, for those who go to the Stadium a lot, now, there’s things in there that we already know. But, I wanted to share it here, anyway, because I thought some out there may find it as enjoyable to read as I did when I saw it.
Here it is, straight from Vinny’s email:
It all started on September 14th when I went looking online to buy tickets for these three games. The Yankees.com site was a complete waste of time. Every attempt at buying tickets made you enter those two nearly unreadable words then a wait for the site to give you an error message. However, if you tried to buy $250 to $300 ticket the site was happy to sell you those (with fees on top of those prices!).
I headed to Stub Hub which was far more user friendly and professional site, showing what was available where and sorted by price. There I bought two left field bleacher tickets for Friday, two grandstand seats for Saturday, and two right field bleacher tickets for Sunday.
Next is the face value of each of those pair of tickets and what the final Stub Hub cost was each game:
Friday – FV – $24 – Cost – $100
Saturday – FV – $40 – Cost – $133
Sunday – FV – $24 -Cost – $104
So total Face Value of $88 and Cost of $337 – Cost coming in just short of Four (!!) times the face value cost!
Last Wednesday I made my first call to the Tuckahoe Motor Inn to reserve a room for Friday – Sunday nights. I’ve been staying there for Yankee games from 1995 to 2005. Probably stayed there well over 50 nights. (Relatively) cheap motel that is ten miles/ten minutes north of Yankee Stadium in Yonkers. You can see it from the Major Deegan Expressway (I-87) and it’s easy to get to it and then back on I-87 south.
I was told that they don’t make reservations for the weekends (!!!!) and to call back Friday morning at 8. Called again Thursday morning hoping to make the reservation but was again told that they do not make any reservations. Called Friday morning and was told the same thing but pleaded my case and was able to make reservations.
Generally, I like to leave my house around noon so at to get at the motel by 3 PM and then to Yankee Stadium by 4 PM for a 7 PM game to avoid all the traffic, particularly on a Friday afternoon.
Somehow I got behind on my schedule and we left around 1 PM and did not get to the motel until nearly 4 PM. I called them around 3:30 to let them know we were on our way and in traffic as I didn’t trust them to hold the reservation.
We left the motel around 4:45 to head to Yankee Stadium and hit a fair amount of traffic especially as we got closer to that George Washington Bridge.
I’d last been to Yankee Stadium in 2005 and had been going regularly all the way back to 1995. As a result, a lot of things had been routinized and highly efficient. Friday I was rusty. The rust first showed when I did not get on the road until 1 PM.
The rust next showed when I missed the first Yankee Stadium exit which brings you right into the (old) parking garage. I took the second exit, which had a lot of cars leading up to it. We were led to this new underground garage.
Here is the new way the garages work for your $23 fee. Instead of a human taking your fee as you enter, you are issued a ticket. Then once you park inside, you have to go to a machine (of course, you spend more time in line waiting to use this machine). At this machine you put in your ticket, put in cash or a credit card, and then your ticket comes out as being paid. You then insert this ticket in another machine which lifts up a gate on your way out of the garage.
I asked if the old garage (the one right next to the old Yankee Stadium) was still there and open. I was told it was open that night, that it was used as overflow parking and opened later than the garage I was now in.
As we left the garage and were walking towards the new Yankee Stadium, just to our right and separated by temporary fencing, was the old Yankee Stadium. I looked in and could not picture where anything from the old Yankee Stadium would have been. Seeing nothing there really brought no emotion to me. I was looking forward to seeing the new place.
The new place is totally better in every single way. I could not think of any one reason to miss the old place.
The Stadium employees are far, far more helpful than they ever were in the old Stadium.
The bleachers are no longer ghettoized. In the old Stadium the bleachers were cut off from the rest of the Stadium; if you were in the bleachers you were confined to there and could go nowhere else in the Stadium and no one from any other parts of the Stadium could enter the bleachers. Now they are just like any other section of the Stadium.
There also seemed to be a lot more leg room than there was in the old Stadium. I’ve never had a problem with the old Stadium seats width-wise so I really did not notice these seats being wider. However, I’d assume that they might since the typical American has got a lot wider than the typical American in the mid-seventies when the old Stadium had last been remodeled.
The new place seemed like it was somewhat similar to the old place except it was much better in every single way.
Prior to the game, I heard someone call my name and turned around to see “Jim C” there to meet and greet meet. We spent some time discussing some mutual past Yankee-related experiences until Jim left to have supper with his family in a section of the Stadium that provides supper along with the ticket price.
The new center field screen is simply amazing with its color and the detail it displays. Next to it are three other screens that display video and information. What you see from the combination of all of them are:
1) All scores from other games, the pitchers, which team is batting, the inning, and how many outs
2) About 15 offensive stats for the batter while he is up
3) Various pitching stats for each relief pitcher
4) Both teams’ lineups with batting averages are constantly in view
5) Type of pitch, speed of pitch, and pitcher pitch count
6) The screen to the right of the large screen showed all the words that were being spoken on the large screen
For the benefit of those sitting in the bleachers who have obstructed views due to the Sports bar/restaurant in center field, there are three TVs on the bottom of the structure. I used them to look at some replays of controversial plays that were not shown on the big screen.
The new Stadium also has the same wrap around graphics that had been at the old Stadium for its last several years. Really livens up the place color-wise.
Friday night was beautiful. Felt like a warm July night rather than a September 24th night.
You are allowed to bring in one bag of a certain size per person. Mine was not even looked at on the way in. And the Stub Hub tickets I printed on my printer worked fine.
We were sitting in front of the large speakers in the bleachers. They were loud but I’m used to having my ears blasted on a regular basis.
It was strange hearing Bob Shepherd announce Derek Jeter’s at bats.
Some people finally arrived as late as the 5th inning while some actually left as early as the 5th inning!
I was surprised to see that the grounds crew YMCA thing was still going on. I thought it’d been stopped but was happy to see it still going on. I like it and the crowd still goes wild over it.
There had been hardly any fans in the stands just prior to the game but they became totally full early in the game. There was a large percentage (70% to 80%) who stayed to the end of the game, which was impressive given that the Yankees had been down 10-1 earlier in the game. And the crowd that remained was into it until the last pitch of the game.
I actually remember few of the over 60 Yankee Stadium games I’ve attended (most remembered was the famous May 2000 Roger/Pedro game) but I do think I will remember this six home run Yankee game. We had a great view from our vantage point in the left field bleachers to recognize quite early on that each of those balls hit were going to end up as home runs. None of them were coming right at us (No more Manny!) and were all from center to right. So, we could see the arc early and see where the ball was going to end up.
Another sign of the new Yankee Stadium personnel change in attitude was that after the game the security and police were not hurrying you to leave. At the old place I was constantly used to hearing, “Sir! You have to leave!”
At the old place (and this was the only way the old place was better) the players/managers/coaches and others associated with the game would walk out of the Stadium and then either to the visiting players buses or just beyond those buses into the parking lot where their cars were located. We’d always spend an hour outside after the game watching all these people coming out to see what they looked like in real life and getting an occasional autograph (Pedro Martinez, Derek Jeter, David Cone, Jason Giambi). By the time we’d finish with that there were hardly any cars left in the parking garage and we’d just drive out.
Now the players et al cars are all parked inside the Stadium. While we were walking around the Stadium to get to our car, we say a lot of people gathered around a Yankee Stadium exit. Turned out this is where their cars now emerge. There were not as many people there as there were in the old days. We stayed for about 10 minutes. But since there really was not much to see we went on our way.
Along the way to the car, we stopped to see what both the various sidewalk vendors and stores were selling. Both were selling shirts that were highly derogatory towards the Red Sox.
By the time we got to the garage, we were one of the few cars left and drove right out.
We got back to our cheap motel in Yonkers. I was surprised to see the depths to which they’d actually renovated it. And it still was relatively inexpensive compared to other options. It cost $90 (full cost) for each of Friday/Saturday and $80 for Sunday night.
Saturday started off with more rust.
I always want to leave the motel so that I get to Yankee Stadium three hours before the game. Somehow I thought my clock was an hour fast and my iPod time was correct. So, when Ben asked “aren’t we leaving late because it was 2:10″ I said, “what do you mean it’s 2:10??!!”. So, not only had I somewhat lost track of time but I was thinking it was an hour earlier.
We hustled out of there and got on the road and, therefore, encountered more traffic than we would have if we had left earlier. But we did take the correct Yankee Stadium exit and got to go into the old garage.
However, while we were in line to pay $23 for our parking, there was a woman ahead of us who was there for awhile. Turned out it would not accept her credit card. When we finally got up to it, I tried my credit card once before giving up and giving it cash.
I absolutely love all the open spaces in the concourse areas. There is an incredible amount of food choices available in them on every level of the Stadium.
At the old Yankee Stadium, I used to do a lot of reading in between innings and during pitching changes. Sometimes I’d get a whole book read during a series. This time because of all the interesting things that they put on the screens, I got no reading done. In between innings, under various themes, there are a ton of shots of individual fans at the game. It never gets old to see when they notice that we are now all seeing them on that huge screen.
One segment they showed was of all the food choices in the Stadium. I think 1995 may have the last time I actually bought something inside the Stadium to eat. But because of the earlier day misreading of the time, we did not have the time to eat outside the Stadium prior to going in. I knew I would not make it to the end of the game without eating so I decided I just had to have those garlic french fries that they’d told us about the prior night.
So, we walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked until we finally got to where they were sold. We had started from our seats over right field to down to around the dugout area. Cost of two sodas, one garlic french fries, and one regular french fries? $30!! It was convenient that even these relatively cheap seats are equipped with cup holders at ground level in front of you.
Our seats were just about on the third base line. Ben, who was sitting to my right, said that the foul pole cut home plate in half. I was just to the left of the foul pole and could fully see home plate and the batter. We were so high up, however, that we were several feet ABOVE the foul pole! The view from our seats, from being so high up, seemed similar to the blimp shots that they show on TV.
It was funny seeing this sign near us that said, “be alert for bats and balls” as if a bat could travel over 500 feet!
We were, however, cut off from seeing the entire field. From about center field to right field, we could not see any of the warning track and for some distance in front of the warning track. So, the three home runs that went into right field just disappeared from our view.
The entire Stadium seems to have excellent sounding speakers everywhere.
When we first went to our seating area, we were met by this maniacal woman who told us that drinking was not allowed there. I told her that’d not be a problem since I’d not had a drink in 36 years. Then we got back after obtaining the $30 food, she insisted on seeing our tickets before letting us in the area. Then we observed her screaming at various fans who brought alcoholic beverages into the section. Note, that there were no signs about them being prohibited. At one point she went screaming and chasing after someone, making the fans in front of us all get up to let her through. Somehow she got three more security people to show up to aid her in the pursuit of some miscreant.
A fan in front of me went to the security supervisor to complain about her and the supervisor said that she was a nut case that they’d move. Shortly after, she was stationed elsewhere and then disappeared for the rest of the game. After the game I went up to another woman in security and asked if they were unionized. She told me that they were. And, then I said that is why you cannot get rid of that woman. And she agreed with that.
There is this new booth called Guest Services. I went down there to find out about the Bronx Zoo. There were 7 young people waiting to help me. The first guy I went to did not know the answer as to whether the Bronx Zoo was open on Sundays but he called over a woman who came over and went to a computer to tell me it was open and when it was open.
You actually saw many people in the concourses holding ups signs saying, “Can I help you?”
Another difference between the old and new Yankee Stadium is that the old had no regular seats in front of the bleacher seats. In both left and right field there are regular seats in front of the bleacher seats.
For some reason the uppers lights behind home plate were never turned on for any of the three games.
As the afternoon turned into night, it turned into another beautiful summer like night with it being quite comfortable wearing shorts and a short sleeves shirt.
For Swisher’s second at bat, some girl announced his name, which was a nice touch.
Kevin Kearns definitely has a strong arm.
When Romulo Sanchez came out to relieve, I was wondering who he was and once he was announced I wondered if we were seeing his major league debut. Turns out he’s pitched a total of 31 innings for the Pirates in 2007 and 2008 and had pitched 3+ innings as a Yankee in May against the Red Sox. So, he now has 4.1 innings as a Yankee pitched. I was really hoping I’d get to see the major league debut of Andrew Brackman but that did not happen.
By the bottom of the 7th, with the Yankees losing 6-0, not many people had left. However, by the end of the 7th people starting pouring out. And then many more streamed out after the 8th inning. However, for both this game and the prior, it felt great to be among the lively faithful remnant who stayed until the end.
This was the second game in a row, though, where all the Yankees in the dugout were up and leaning at the top of the dugout while the Red Sox players in their dugout looked disinterested.
After the game we headed for New York City for our usual trip to New York City after the Saturday game was over.
The theme of the night turned into traffic, more traffic, and yet more traffic! Tons of traffic just getting to the entrance ramp of 87 South and then an unusual amount of traffic once we got on the FDR South. We finally made it to Ground Zero and saw what has transpired there since we’d last been there five years ago. After leaving there and again hitting tons of traffic and driving around for a long time looking for a parking space, we finally got to St Mark’s Place. There were not as many places left there as there had been in the past so we did not stay long before heading to Time Square, which we finally got to around 11:30 PM. We attempted to see ESPN Zone but found out that location and several other ESPN Zone locations in the country had been closed since last June. I guess they took the business out of the space but they must still have to pay the rent due to a lease. Times Square was its usual filled with people from when we arrived until we left around 1:30 AM.
On Sunday, with an 8 PM game, we headed to the Bronx Zoo. All I knew about it was that it’d existed but knew nothing else. In all the series I’d been to at Yankee Stadium. I’ve never gone and never even thought of going. Cost $13 to park and $16 per adult for general admission (Total Experience tickets cost more). What a great experience. We were there for about four hours and thought there was much more to see. Want to go back again. My favorites were the sea lions, monkeys, some birds, reptiles, rodents.
In the past, we had always eaten breakfast in a place right around the corner from Yankee Stadium. It was inexpensive and they gave you your food about 5 minutes after you ordered it. Then they went upscale and we stopped going there and started going to a place across the street. We got to the Stadium Sunday night at 6 PM and needed to eat. So, we ended up at the old place. It was twice as big as it had been and was packed with people. We asked if they’d serve us breakfast food and they said yes so we went in. Big mistake! The food really was not that good and look at these prices!
glass of milk 5.00
2 glasses of orange juice 10.50
2 french toast, 2 eggs, sausage 11.95
2 french toast, 2 eggs 8.75
2 french fries 11.50
1 plain bagel 2.75
1 bagel with cream cheese 4.95
Total with tax and tip?? $72.26!!!
And to add insult to injury, they were blasting music at live music levels while we were there so we had to shout to hear one another. I don’t mind loud music when I’m hearing it live because I’m there to hear the music and not to talk to anyone. And then on top of it, it was the mindless, repetitive Hip Hop music that was being played. And, just as I was leaving they started playing rock music. A bad decision all around to go there as it turned out to be far from an optimal experience on many levels!
There will be NO Billy’s Sports Bar in my future!
Our backpacks were given the most close inspection of any of the games before we went in but we each passed with flying colors. There is a size limit on bags brought into the Stadium; they have to fit some kind of slot that they have there. It’s overall far more relaxed than it had been after 9/11.
We found out that you can bring unopened water bottles into the Stadium (along with any food). So, you can pay $1 for a water bottle outside the Stadium and bring it in or you can pay $5 for the exact same bottle!
After we got into the Stadium I saw an elderly black woman who I’d met earlier in the last decade in the bleachers at the old Yankee Stadium. I went up to her and talked to her and was shocked to find out that she’s turning 80 this November. So, if you see “Evie H” in the bleachers, say hello to her. A blessed fellow Yankee fan.
Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave fame?) sang the National Anthem and he thoroughly butchered many of the words and lines. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone do a better job of butchering it.
Before the game, each Yankee appeared on the big screen thanking Yankee fans for their support this year. This was the last regular season home game.
This was definitely the coolest night by far. I started off the game with a warm long sleeve undershirt plus flannel shirt. Then later added my Yankees sweatshirt. And finally topped it off with a rain coat once the rain started.
I never visited Monument Park at any of the games. And I never visited it at the old Stadium. There seemed to be a lot of long lines to get into it and they cut off the lines early, leaving a lot of people unhappy. There is a museum there also? I think I saw a sign for it on the way out but never made it there either.
We did see the blimp above us.
During the singing of God Bless America, I heard some guy behind me yell, “Take off your hat, Commie!” I don’t think it was directed at me because on top of my hat I had my Yankee sweatshirt hood plus my raincoat hood.
What the shouter fails to recognize is that it’s only the “Commie” citizens and Nazi citizens who have to take off their hats so as to conform. Here in America many people have died so that citizens can have the freedom to decide if they agree that taking their hats off is a form of honoring anything.
It was an odd game in that all in the same game we saw:
1) a pitcher (Chamberlain) catching a pop up
2) a catcher (Posada) tagging out a runner at first base during a rundown
3) both closers losing saves
4) three stolen bases of third base in one inning – the ninth
The first people started leaving the Stadium at the end of the first half of the 7th when the Yankees were losing 1-0. A fair amount followed them at the bottom of the 7th with the Yankees leading 2-1.
During the game there was a lot of 2 strike clapping. On some of the occasions I was the first one to start doing so. The revered Bleacher “Nazi” Creatures really don’t seem to add too much to the game as they were sitting on their hands while I was on my feet for 2 strike clapping. Also, throughout the bleachers too many fans were giving their attention to taunting Red Sox fans rather than what was going on on the field.
Swisher is a huge fan favorite. More so than Teixeira.
For the roll call at the start of the games, Swisher salutes the fans, Gardner gives a muscle pose, and Granderson puts his hand over his heart. The infielders all give a perfunctory wave of the glove.
With the Yankees up in the bottom of the 8th and still leading 2-1, there were many pockets of empty seats all over the Stadium.
Then this totally weird rain started. We could see it above us at the level of the lights but we could also see the wind swirling it all around us so that none of it actually touched us until it later did finally start coming straight down on us. But it never really amounted to more than a drizzle.
Many more fans left between the 8th and 9th innings.
Then fans started pouring out when the Red Sox tied it 2-2 in the top of the ninth.
Then even more joined them when the Red Sox took a 3-2 lead in the ninth.
By the bottom of the ninth inning, only the faithful were left in the Stadium.
Then after the Yankees tied it 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, ever more left. For a few innings many sections of the Stadium were almost completely empty.
By the top of the 10th, there were hardly any people in the 9 sections directly behind home plate. The left and right field bleachers had, by far, the highest percentage of people still in their seats.
After the top of the 10th inning was over, even more people left.
However, somehow, by the bottom of the 10th, I looked around and saw a lot of people in seats who had not been in them for the previous innings or two.
The last inning was extremely exciting. We were all standing up in the bleachers. It was so exciting that even though I only had about 5 hours of sleep the night before, I was thoroughly tuned into each and every pitch to each Yankee until it finally ended with a walk off walk.
After the end of the game, this young guy asked me to take a picture of him and his 8 or so friends. I told them that they were the faithful who had been rewarded with a Yankee victory after all the band wagoners had gone home!
After the game, Ben and I made a deal with one of the street vendors for Ben to get one of those derogatory Red Sox t-shirts (he lives and works near Boston and encounters tons of Red Sox fans daily in his work) and I got an Italian Yankee shirt.
After we finally got to the parking garage after 1 AM, there were hardly any cars left in there and we first struggled to find out where we supposed to go to drive out and then once we were at the gate we could not get our ticket to lift the gate. Turned out that there were four ways you could insert the ticket and I’d only tried two of those four ways. We finally got out and were on a speedy way back to the motel in 10 minutes since there was hardly any traffic on the road at that point.
The Yankees lost two of three but Friday night was an exciting game with the six Yankee home runs and then Sunday was a real treat with a totally thrilling last four innings of the game.
We both look forward to going back last year for a rust-free trip!