Having been inside the new Yankee Stadium 42 times since it opened I thought that I had a pretty good understanding of the complexity and size of the structure. That was the assumption that I took with me on Tuesday when I arrived at the stadium for my 12:40 Stadium Tour.
Man, was I wrong ... Let’s start at the beginning - when I arrived at Gate 6 I joined the 25 other tour-mates, most of them out-of-town tourists, but I expected that. Security was really tight and all bags etc. were searched far more thoroughly than they are when entering the stadium for a game. Once inside the stadium and in The Great Hall we were introduced to our 3 guides, 2 males and 1 female. The young female, Gina, in her early 20s, was the principal tour guide. We were given a brief overview of the history of the new structure and then given an opportunity to go to the restrooms before the tour began. We were, however, escorted to the restrooms and from that point on were never out of sight of the guides (now, of course, I don’t mean they went inside the restrooms with us.).
Our first stop was the Yankee Museum on the Main Level near my season ticket package seat, which I pointed out to one of the tour members and apparently Gina overheard because she later took me aside to ask details regarding my season ticket package, how I liked the new stadium and my predictions for the remainder of the season. She then spent a lot of time with me for the rest of the tour.
In the Museum is an awesome collection of Yankee memorabilia from the first game in franchise history up to and including a display called “The Jeter Years.” The areas drawing the most attention seemed to me to be stuff related to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and Thurman Munson’s locker. Photography was permitted and I took several, including the one above which is The Babe’s jersey.
When we left the Museum we took a rather long and circuitous route into the bowels of the stadium to get to Monument Park. This was our first exposure of what goes on behind the scenes. The Yankees are in the middle of a lengthy series on the West Coast, but the place was teeming with people: guys in business suits, gals in classy outfits, people in their Yankee work-gear, laborers in jeans etc. We passed several offices.
Monument Park is semi-protected from the weather but it is basically what the name implies, a small outdoor park, with 20 memorial plaques and 16 retired Yankee numbers. We were allowed to touch and feel and take pictures. The guides took lots of pictures for the group. I had mine taken next to the September 11 Memorial Plaque. I estimate we spent about 20 minutes in the park.
Then we were escorted back into the stadium on a walk-around on the field level as we were heading to the Yankee dugout, which is located on the first base side of the field. Again we saw a lot of people doing what appeared to be maintance and cleaning work. It was also both awe-inspiring and kinda creepy to see the vast empty spaces and seats. We were given brief time on the field in order to get into the dugout.
For me being in the dugout was the highlight of the tour. I was somewhat surprised that it seemed to be a bit smaller than it appears on TV or from the area in the stadium where I usually sit. Also, it was the closest I had ever been to the field and it made me understand, finally, just how close the players are to home plate and how the umpires can no doubt actually hear what is being said (usually laced with 4-letter words). I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but it seemed to me as if I could actually feel the presence of the team. Gina took my picture as I was leaning on the railing.
Since the Yankees were out of town our tour included a visit to the batting cages located behind the dugout and then the clubhouse. Once the tour of the dugout was over we were required to put away all cameras and cellphones. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures in the batting cage area or the clubhouse. Cameras had to be put in their cases and cellphones in the pocket. If this wasn’t possible, then they had to be handed over to one of the tour guides.
I, of course, was the first to ask why and Gina told me/us that it was part of the union contract in order to protect the privacy of the players. Now I can understand that regarding the clubhouse but not in the batting cage, but ...
Anyway, there are two batting cages in a huge area immediately behind the dugout and it also has an array of exercise/warmup equipment. There is only 1 batting cage behind the visitors dugout but it has the same exercise/warmup equipment.
We were taken directly from the batting cage area into the clubhouse, which was somewhat of a disappointment. I don’t know what I expected but most of the area was roped off and we were only given “access” to about 10 of the 40+ locker areas and these were assigned to the reserve or bench players. It appeared to me that all of the locker areas were the same size and the space itself is huge and, of course, filled with all sorts of electronic gizmo’s and stuff. In the area where we were permitted there were uniforms and gear and personal clothing and items in each player’s locker area. One of the items that seemed to attract a lot of attention was the protective cup located in reserve catcher Francisco Cervelli’s locker. We were not shown the shower room or Manager Joe Girardi’s office.
When we left the clubhouse we went up several flights of steps and re-entered The Great Hall and the tour ended, exactly 1 hour after it started. I had a nice final conversation with Gina about the tour and her thoughts on the rest of the season. She feels the Yankees will make it to The World Series and will win. I share her feelings, too.
In summary - the tour is well worth the $20. I highly recommend it and suggest that if you have options you should schedule the tour when the Yankees are out of town so you can get to the batting cage and clubhouse areas.
So, my loyal and faithful fans, this is the end of this posting but I have a lot of other thoughts and stuff that I want to post and, hopefully, I will have time to do so tomorrow.
Go Yankees and Go Gators!!
“Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.”
PS: Oh, I forgot to mention - this morning I went online and was able to score a ticket to Sunday’s final series game against the FuckSox. It is only a couple of sections away from my usual seat. Awesome!!! I had been checking about every other day for months and then .... bam ... one came available ... awesome!!