Review by Gary
This is a review of the renovated version of Yankee Stadium, built in the Bronx borough of New York City in 1923 and renovated during the 1974-1975 seasons. After the Stadium's 50th anniversary season in 1973, the Yankees and New York Football Giants moved to the friendly confines of Shea Stadium for two years. “Renovation” is a misleading term as the stadium was almost completely demolished and rebuilt, resulting in a completely new ballpark built on the frame of the old one.
I visited Yankee Stadium II three times between 1977 and 2008 and while I did attend a game in the final season of 2008, I didn’t get the same warm and fuzzy melancholy at the closing of this old park as I did when I visited Shea Stadium in its final year, probably because I am not a Yankee fan. (There is an unwritten rule in the NYC area that one cannot be both a Yankee AND a Met fan, so I will simply say that my visits to Yankee Stadium were as a baseball fan and ballpark aficionado.)
Upon entering the stadium on a gray day, I walked down what seemed to be an endless tunnel before finally reaching the portal to our section. This narrow tunnel was actually the concourse under the stands; a claustrophic, low-ceilinged walkway with concession and souvenir stands stuffed into the nooks and crannies. These catacombs led to the tunnels that led to the seats. This subterranean world was disorienting and gave no sense that one was in a ballpark.
However, once I emerged, I found one of the most surprising and coolest first impressions of a ballpark I had seen, a pristine ball field with a beautiful blue-sky overhead. Somehow, the sun had decided to come out and a most excellent expanse of grass lay in front of me. Suddenly, I felt like I was someplace special.
Between the left and right field upper deck seats stood a replica of the old facade atop a 560-foot-long scoreboard that stretched across the rear of the bleachers. The board also included baseball's first "telescreen” in pro sports that showed the first instant replays. Rumor has it that the old metal façade that once wrapped around the roof of the park was sold for scrap metal during the reconstruction.
In left field sat Monuments Park, an outdoor Hall of Fame for all Yankees whose numbers had been retired in addition to notable people and events that occurred there. Each player’s number hung on a wall behind his plaque and bronze-etched photo. Before the renovation, Monument Park was actually in play, which may have had the less-than-stellar early 1970’s Yankees wishing that Joltin’ Joe and the Mick could lend a hand. The left field wall was moved in during the rebuild, but at 399 feet from home plate, this was still a pitchers park with only the Babe’s short right field porch to shoot for. One of the notable features of the field itself was the huge foul territory, with the backstop a whopping 72 feet from home plate. On the whole, this version of Yankee stadium was a pretty cool place to see a game. It may not have truly been the House That Ruth Built, but there is no denying that some of the greatest ballplayers ever to play the game, ballplayers that helped turn baseball into the national pastime… those players built their legend on this field in the Bronx.
I understand that the Yankees are an organization steeped in tradition with strict principles regarding behavior, grooming and ettiquette, but posting a list of regulations this long outside the gate is either intimidating... or ridiculous.