Part IX: Yankee Stadium
…getting on the 7 express from Citi Field wasn’t too bad. I actually lucked out because as I was using my camera, a train had just pulled in. Luckily, I always have my MetroCard ready to go at a moment’s notice. After a couple years and many subway rides later, I’ve learned my lessons with the subways! Anyway, I got on the 7, then easily made the transfer to the 4 train to get to my next stop and second stadium of the day.
Ballpark 8: Yankee Stadium, elevation 24 feet
The game: Tigers @ Yankees also on August 4, 2014
If you are taking the 4 subway into Yankee Stadium, you can easily see the huge stadium from the train and you can’t miss your stop. The new ballpark is built similarly to old Yankee Stadium in that there are multiple tiers, and each tier goes a long way in terms of the number of rows. In other words, this is a massive stadium. But before entering new Yankee Stadium, I made my way to the softball field across the street where the old stadium once stood. Within the new field is the old diamond, but around the walkway, you can spot a section of the iconic old frieze from old Yankee Stadium. Yes, it’s still there as a monument to the “House That Ruth Built.”
After walking around Babe Ruth Plaza and checking out some of the outdoor stuff, I made my way into the new Yankee Stadium, but this time for a game! I should point out right now that I had been to this stadium before and did the tour two years ago. I wanted to take the tour before going to a game that way I could check out Monument Park and the museum. I will say both of them are a must-see and you can enter either one of these places before any home game if you arrive early enough. Typically, Monument Park fills up first and the lines to enter there usually end up being pretty long. But, if you’re a baseball fan, it’s worth going to. The museum doesn’t have as long of lines as Monument Park, but they get big crowds, and visiting that is also worth it.
The first thing I do is check out batting practice and see that the Tigers are already at bat when I arrive there. Here is something everybody should know when they first visit Yankee Stadium: the ushers are pretty tough when it comes to people trying to get to certain levels of the ballpark. Apparently, the right field porch is only for those fans with seats at the right field porch. In other words, only certain people can go there for batting practice. The reason for this is that right field in Yankee Stadium is a very prime location for home run balls during batting practice. With the shorter dimensions (and fences, for that matter) and wind patterns, most balls end up there. Thus, I sat in the left field bleachers, and didn’t have much luck with batting practice there. At the time, I simply took everything in and enjoyed watching balls end up in right field.
One noticeable feature that people cannot miss is the glorious white frieze that hangs over the entire grandstand level. Also, the enormous HD screen in the outfield is a sight to behold, and is most informative during games. The field is one of the best maintained in the country, and the grounds crew are very meticulous in their preparation of the field.
After some BP, I make my way to the fan services station and notice a decent-sized line entering inside the offices. This is where you can find out information about the ballpark, and also pick up your first-time guest certificate. I’ll say this right off the bat, their certificate has the name printed on, but it looks exquisite. I also picked up a guide to the ballpark and got some tips on food and other places to go in Yankee Stadium.
The food: After asking for some food suggestions, I decided on the suggestion that most appealed to me. I decided on the Triple Play Grill which had some excellent choices. Luckily, there was one just below my section in the grandstand level in section 321. I got the Sliders combo which has three sliders, and a bucket full of fries. I’m not even exaggerating on that, I barely finished the fries that I received. As for the sliders, they were excellent. For $12 for that combo, it was not a bad price at all, and surprisingly filling. Of course, the huge amount of fries helped. After getting my food and checking in to the stadium, I got a message saying to check out the MasterCard booth. What a surprise! More on that later.
Ticket prices: Regular price for any ticket at Yankee Stadium is going to be pretty expensive so you are going to have to plan for this one. You can either see which opponent is coming into town and anticipate that a game will sell out quickly, so your best bet is to get tickets at regular price (this really only applies for games against the Red Sox). Otherwise, StubHub is your very best friend for this ballpark. For most weekday games, tickets come at a cheaper price through the secondary market, and this was a good example of that. I got a great seat in the grandstands (section 421) right behind home plate for less than $28. Even better, this wasn’t a high row seat, this was right in the lower middle where I wanted it. To me, with the views I got, this was an excellent seat.
From the grandstands, you can overlook the Bronx skyline, which doesn’t look bad at all during the daylight. You truly get the sense that you’re in the middle of a bustling neighborhood here. Then again, this is actually true is there are apartment buildings just west of Yankee Stadium. Also, you can see the scoreboards clearly from there, as well as Monument Park with all its retired numbers.
The fans: I’ll try to keep this one short. The fans are unlike any other fan base. Because I sat in the grandstands with the “real fans,” I got to be around some truly die-hard fans; the ones that know baseball and its rich history. I was around the fans that didn’t tolerate the wave, and when one person tried to start a wave, I heard someone retort, “Leave the wave at the beach where it belongs!” This was followed by a rousing cheer, and it never came around during this game. This was only the second game where I didn’t see a wave happen, and I greatly appreciated it. Thank you, Yankee fans. They may seem tough, but they are as passionate a fan base as I’ve ever seen.
The game: Once the game got started, we started hearing the “roll call” from the “Bleacher Creatures” in right field. In case you don’t know, during the top of the first inning, a slew of fans will start a chant of a defensive player, and that player will respond back in his own way. When it got to Derek Jeter at the end of those chants, the entire crowd erupted in that chant of “Der-ek Je-ter *clap, clap, clap-clap-clap * Der-ek Je-ter!” With this being his last season, the crowd is more appreciative of every last game he plays for they know they are seeing the final days of a Yankee legend playing in their home stadium. You can count me in that group who appreciates his playing style, and the fact that he played clean through his 20-year career. I could go on about this, but I’m sure most readers know about his playing career, so I will just say, thank you, Derek Jeter.
Each of Jeter’s at-bats drew thunderous applause and was accompanied with two things: the Jeter chant, and a plethora of fans showing their respect to the captain by tipping their cap just like a popular current commercial. Unfortunately for Jeter, Max Scherzer was pitching for the Detroit Tigers, and he pitched a marvelous game. Jeter struck out in his first at-bat. The Yankees had Brandon McCarthy pitching, and while he had some trouble getting into jams, he would also manage to get out of them. For example, in the top of the 2nd inning, McCarthy had gotten himself into a bases loaded situation. He got out of that jam by striking out Alex Avila and Eugenio Suarez.
Jeter came up again in the bottom of the 3rd, and he came up big in that inning. With two men aboard, he whacked a single to the outfield, but the runners held and only moved up one base each. Those two would later score on a sacrifice fly and a hit to put the Yankees up, 2-0. That’s all the scoring the Yanks would need as Robertson only allowed an unearned run to score in the 5th inning. Both Robertson and Scherzer hurled 117 pitches in strong outings, but it was the Yankees who would come out victorious, 2-1. Not much offense happened in the latter stages of the game as the New York bullpen shut the door on the Tigers.
I know I just described the game like any normal reporter would do, but that’s because everybody around me was totally immersed in the game, and hung on every pitch like it was important. With the Yankees on the outside looking in for a wild card spot, every game is important, and the fans know we are witnessing Jeter’s last games. At least in the grandstands, the crowd was as loud as any I had been to thus far. After the game, I conversed with several kind fans and swapped stories. The woman that sat next to me has been a season ticket holder for over two decades, and she shared so many memories of old and new Yankee Stadium. It was a pleasure talking nothing but baseball for over three hours with the fans there. It was also an immense pleasure to see the Yankees win at home and hear Frank Sinatra serenade the crowd with a recording of “New York, New York.”
Overall, this is one of the best places to watch a baseball game in the major leagues. If there was any knock on Yankee Stadium, it is one of the more expensive tickets anywhere, but this is the Yankees. The 27-time world champions are allowed to have ticket prices a little more expensive than the average because they are a perennially good team to watch. The concession prices were more than fair, and while the staff can be tough, they are also very personable to all fans that come by, including season ticket holders. It’s like a big family here in that sense. Parking is through the roof, but that’s why nearly everyone takes the subways or buses to get there. I highly recommend going to a game here at least once in your life, if not for the history, then for the sight of seeing this majestic stadium.
I left the stadium smiling from ear to ear. I had seen two games at two different parks in one day, and they were great ballparks, too. I would have been completely satisfied if my tour had ended here like I originally thought because it ended on such a good note, and I had made some terrific memories through those three weeks. You would think my tour would end here, but it didn’t…
…remember that surprise I alluded to earlier? Well, thanks to MasterCard, I was the recipient of one of their many “Priceless Surprises.” The MasterCard representatives asked if I was still in town the next day and had any concrete plans. I had planned to go swing dancing Tuesday night, but those plans weren’t set in stone yet. Thus, I got a huge manila envelope that included two tickets for the following game! I didn’t look at the tickets yet, I was just so overcome with excitement that I simply said, “Thank you so much!” I also didn’t have time to check exactly where the tickets where since I was starving and wanting to eat my huge amount of food. I was also told I’d get more information via e-mail and all that jazz. When I got on the subway, my energy was quickly winding down, and I even nearly fell asleep on the subway. As soon as I got back to my room, I quickly fell asleep for a cat nap, and prepared for a new day!
It’s not over yet!