When I was a kid growing up my favorite baseball team was the New York Yankees. I was 8 years old and Mickey Mantle was my hero. Mickey was from Oklahoma, just like me. I liked all the Yankees, Yogi Berra, Roger Maris, and Whitey Ford…all of them.
On some earlier visits here to New York City, I was able to see a game at the old Yankee Stadium, before they tore it down, where all my childhood heroes played. We saw a game at the new Yankee Stadium a few years later. My baseball buddy, David Richie, caught a foul ball at that game. Yankee Stadium brings back memories of my childhood.
Well, I was looking for something to do, and I thought….the Stadium was just down the road (sort of), the Yankees were out of town and I was ready. It was time to take a tour of Yankee Stadium, a billion dollar baseball field, the baseball equivalent of Jerry World, AT&T Stadium!
I have enjoyed taking tours of different stadiums. The Ballpark in Arlington, Jerry World, Seattle, walk around at Fenway Park in Boston, Camden Yards, PNC Park in Philadelphia…..I was really looking forward to what Yankee Stadium had to offer. After all, part of my childhood was laying around here somewhere!
I was expecting this to be much like the Ballpark in Arlington, a walk through the concourse, going down into the depths of the stadium, walking through the tunnels underneath the stadium, the batting cages, the pitching areas, the weight rooms, the locker rooms where the uniforms and equipment were lined up, the tunnels out to the dugouts, the press box, inside the outfield scoreboard….I was expecting it all. Well……Yankee Stadium is different.
The stadium stands tall and majestic, rising above the subway station at 161st Street in the Bronx. The Bronx doesn’t have a very good reputation except for the area around Yankee Stadium. We purchased our tickets and caught up with our tour group that had left just a few minutes earlier.
Our tour started in an area that displayed samples of all the World Series rings theYankees have won over the years. 26 in all. 25 rings and one gold pocket watch. The pocket watch was for the first championship team in 1923. The display was impressive and those championship rings? They are gaudy.
We went a few steps further down the hallway. There was another glass display case holding uniforms, bats and shoes of all of the old Yankee heroes, Ruth, Gehrig, Huggins, DiMaggio, Mantle, Maris….right on up the line to Derek Jeter, way past when my allegiance ended.
Next we were escorted to Monument Park. The area where all the greats from the past are honored with plaques showing their likeness and listing their accomplishments. This area can be visited for free prior to any Yankee home game. We were shown the press box and given the opportunity to take pictures of the field.
As we walked further around the mezzanine, where the ballpark concession stands line the concourse, the guide points out the pictures on the awnings above the concession stands showing historical moments of the franchise from years gone by.
I was caught off guard when the guide stopped at some open restrooms, awarded us a magnetic photo of Monument Park and told us the tour was over. I was disappointed because I wasn’t ready for it to end. No locker rooms, no batting cages, no dugouts, and no warning tracks!
But then I thought, my Rangers will be here on my birthday in June and will beat the Yankees real bad. I’ll be here in full Ranger regalia cheering them on. And in a few years, we’ll finish up our new stadium and it will make this place look like an old closed down K-Mart store. Yep, that’s what we will do.
Good night, childhood.