As a big fan of baseball, I’ve been meaning to write about Yankee Stadium for some time. As a fan of both the sport and the history of the game, I can’t think of many with a more storied history than “The House That Ruth Built.”
Opening on April 18th, 1923 in the Bronx, as the home of the New York Yankees, the team won that opening game at the new stadium, defeating the Boston Red Sox, 4-1. Oh yeah, the stadium was once the home of the New York Giants football team, was the site some impressive boxing bouts, and hosted a variety of other special events, but to millions of people, it’s all about baseball.
Yankee Stadium was the first three-level sports facility in the United States, and it was the first to used the term “stadium” instead of “park” or “field.” The large electronic scoreboard in the outfield, now a standard everywhere, was also the first of its kind. The design of the stadium was largely selected to accommodate the hitting style of Babe Ruth, and the many luxuries were installed in an effort to convince fans to put the Black Sox scandals behind them and return to the game. Good decisions — it seems to have worked!
In 1974-76, Yankee Stadium went dark, as major renovations were undertaken. The stadium was satirically referred to as the “House that Lindsay Rebuilt,” a social and political commentary on the purchase of the stadium by the city (orchestrated by Mayor John Lindsay), and the city bearing the cost of $160 million in renovation costs. The stadium reopened on April 15th, and the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 11-4.
I went to a game at Yankee Stadium a number of years ago, along with a group of co-workers who were just as fascinated as I with its history and charm. We took the subway (D train) to the 161st/Yankee Stadium stop, which, from Penn Station took a little over half an hour. Exiting the subway, you come up right outside the corner of the stadium. Walk across the street and gaze up at the ultimate home field advantage, Yankee Stadium. The #4 train also goes to the stadium stop, as does the B train on weekdays. The New York Waterway also runs a ferry service to the stadium (leaving from piers in Manhattan and New Jersey) called “The Yankee Clipper.” That sounds like it could be a fun way to travel to the game!
Yankee Stadium has some very distinctive features:
The stadium’s facade is probably its most distinguishing characteristic. Although originally the facade ran around the roof of the uppermost deck, the 70’s renovation scaled back the roof, and a replica of the facade was installed along the bleacher signage and scoreboard (seen in photo above).
Outside the stadium, at the main entrance gate, is the Big Bat, a 138-foot tall pipe in the shape of a bat. It was designed to look like the bat that Babe Ruth used, right down to the tape that fray off the handle at the end. The Big Bat is a typical meeting place for people before or after the game. If you’re traveling with a group, you can make the Big Bat your meeting place should you get separated.
Monument Park (in photo below) is located in the outfield, and is a veritable who’s who in baseball. It contains all the Yankees’ retired jersey numbers, along with a collection of other memorabilia. A walk through the park will bring back lots of memories of baseball’s golden boys of the game.
If you haven’t been to Yankee Stadium, time is running out.
Last year, the Yankees began construction on their new stadium, located on land adjacent to the current stadium, and it is anticipated that the team will open the 2009 season in their new home. That leaves this season and next to see the Yankees play in their current location. The 2008 All-Star game will also be played at Yankee Stadium.
It’s a trek worth making, so get out to the Bronx to see the House that Ruth Built, and the House that Lindsay Rebuilt, before its demolished in 2009. It’s a little slice of baseball history.
Photo credits: wikimedia
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