We close our pinch hitter series with a post from Drew from My Pinstripes
A Yankees fan since the late 60s (the photo is of him in 1973), Drew is a database analyst living in New Jersey with his wife and two beagles. He’s been blogging for two years.
Here’s his post:
2008 is a year of transition in the Bronx.
To begin with, someone new will be filling out the lineup card for the first time in 12 years. Then, there’s been a shift in philosophy regarding the role of the organizationâ€™s up-and-coming prospects. Following the long reign of King George, thereâ€™s a different Steinbrenner at the reins. But most of all, the Bronx will be the site of not one, but two Yankee Stadiums. For this is the final season of the House that Ruth built and New York city remodeled. Except for two unmemorable seasons in Flushing, it has been the home of the Yankees since 1923.
Itâ€™s hard to imagine which will feel more odd — walking out of the current Stadium for the last time, or walking into the new one for the first time. And, the impact of both events will be overshadowed by the day the wrecking ball takes down most of the place we all grew up in.
I remember the first time I walked inside the old Stadium in 1970. I looked on in wonderment at the monuments in centerfield, uniquely placed right smack in the field of play. The high black centerfield wall seemed a mile away, at 461 feet. The white facade regally encircled the top of the place. The simple, but informative, scoreboard stood out in center field, and the Yankeesâ€™ bullpen was nestled between the bleachers and the rightfield seats. And yes, there were those annoying structural posts that could completely block your view if you had the misfortune of sitting behind one. About half of the 65,000 seats were filled on that day.
After that game, we walked onto the field (yes, you read that correctly!), and exited out beyond left-centerfield. The atmosphere was of a different era and we all wanted it to stay that way.
Flash forward to today. There are many people who are just as angry about the new Stadium being built as they were about the renovation 35 years ago. The discussion has been going on for years: Move to New Jersey (I always liked that idea as a kid), renovate again, or build a completely new place.
I was indecisive for the longest time. Despite some of itsâ€™ obvious warts, I thought the Stadium should stay put and be improved. But over the last couple of years, Iâ€™ve come to realize that the fans deserve some serious upgrades to the facility.
The Stadium itself is no longer fan friendly. The average person sits in an uncomfortably cramped seat, traverses narrow aisles and stairs, waits in endless lines at the bathrooms and concessions, and has to decide which food tastes the least lousy. The video/message boards that line the 1st and 3rd base lines arenâ€™t visible from much of the upper deck.
I realize the new place wonâ€™t come without its share of issues and problems. For the sake of high-priced luxury boxes, there will be 5,000 less seats. Thereâ€™s a steep rise in parking prices on the horizon, and you can bet that ticket prices will increase dramatically as well. And NYC tax payers will be footing much of the $91 million bill for the new Metro-North station.
But, just as I remember attending my first Yankees game in 1970, I also remember going to the first Sunday home game in 1976 when the remodeled Stadium reopened. I recall a sea of shiny blue seats and a new gleaming white facade that paid homage to the old yard. There was a new Monument Park in left-centerfield where fans could pay tribute to their heroes, and a video display board in center. And though the parkâ€™s seating capacity had been decreased by over 10,000 seats, the once-upset fans were happy to see a better version of their Stadium.
I believe the fans reaction will be the same way this time around. Weâ€™ll take in all of the changes and new features and be in awe all over again. I now look forward to stepping into â€œYankee Stadium 2.0â€ for the first time.
The greatest team in all of sports deserves the greatest place to call home.