Anyone who knows me knows that the Yankees are my all-time favorite sports team. I’ve loved baseball since I was a little kid. My Uncle Harold was instrumental in teaching me about the game and I remember walking down to his house on hot summer nights to sit on his front porch and watch the Yanks play on WPIX. After every game, he would stand on the sidewalk and watch me walk to the far corner to my house… I would wave when I got there and he’d whistle to let me know that he saw me. I would get home and think all night about how great Willie Randolph was and how I wanted to be as great of a player one day as he was.
I’ve witnessed some of the greatest baseball moments ever in my short life and 75% of them have involved my team, the New York Yankees. But as much as I love the Yankees, I’ve never had the opportunity to see them play in person before. Every time I’ve made plans to do it, life has kicked in… something more pressing has taken priority. That changed on Sunday, August 7th, 2011.
My girlfriend came over to my house, sat down next to me on the couch and handed me a card and a manila envelope. The card was actually a birthday card (my birthday is in October) so I immediately knew she was up to one of her tricks. She’s extremely thoughtful and always surprising me and it’s truly one of the things that I love about her. After reading the card she tells me to open the envelope and I pull out 3 pieces of paper… the first is a seating chart that says “Yankee Stadium” at the top. The other two pages were two tickets for the Yankees-Blue Jays on September 3, 2011… Labor Day Weekend. I was in disbelief at first and all I could do was stare at the tickets for a minute and then the seating chart and then back to the tickets. In the 35 years that I’ve been a Yankees fan, I could never imagine the feeling of holding Yankee tickets in my hand and knowing that I was going to see them… the team that I’ve loved since I was 6 years old.
As we waited outside of Gate 4, I couldn’t even begin to imagine what she looked like on the inside. When we finally walked in, we were right behind home plate and it was more beautiful than I imagined. Several players were on the field already (no BP today because the Yanks played extra innings the night before, just my luck) and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. A lot of people would argue that but when you grow up in a city with a Triple-A team and small stadium, anything you pay at a major league stadium will be well worth the price. Yankee Stadium looks massive when you watch games on TV… it seems like the ball travels forever when it’s hit into the deep seats. Our seats are perfect, 28 rows from the field, ground level and right along the third base line, we can see everything… even right into the Yankees dugout. My girl did good! We tried going to Monument Park but there was almost a two-hour wait for that and I wanted to walk around and shoot as many pictures as possible. One thing that is highly disappointing about the Yankee Stadium experience is access to the players. If you’re not sitting anywhere near home plate, you have a better chance of being President than going down near the field to get autographs from them. (More on this when I write about our Cleveland/Progressive Field experience.) What’s even more disappointing is that this isn’t because of player safety, but, because of all the “stars” in the $3k seats that security is trying to protect. When the spectators become more important that the game on the field, something is definitely wrong. One major highlight about the Stadium is the food and it’is pretty awesome and there are so many options, but they’re kind of pricey ones. I recommend the Waffle Fries from Nathan’s ($8) and pass on the $6 Hot Dog though, it’s not worth the price (And I now hear that it’s $6.75… the Yanks still gotta pay A-Rod that $25mil. per year!).
I still can’t believe that I made it… The Mecca of baseball in my eyes. My favorite team is on the field, my favorite player is at second base and the house is packed. It’s a beautiful day, I’m with the woman of my dreams and we we’re having a blast. The game was great and Robinson Cano came through with a clutch hit to give us the lead. The Yankees won 6-4 and I couldn’t have been happier. Even though I never stepped foot in the old Yankee Stadium, I’m kind of glad that I never did. My first trip to the new sports Mecca was with someone I love dearly and I was able to start new memories there. I know there will be more to come. Since this trip, Liz and I have decided that we’re going to make it our mission to reach all thirty MLB stadiums over the next 10 years. I’ve officially started a Bucket List and put this mission at the top! #GO YANKS!!!