I was in New York this weekend to visit my brother-in-law, check out a Yankees game and drop in on Mangesh and Jason at the Brooklyn HQ. I feel like I'm being rude if I dedicate a post to Wrigley and not Yankee Stadium, so I thought I'd give you a little Yankee Stadium history today.
1. Obviously Yankee Stadium is the House that Ruth Built, but it's also the House that Edison built. Thomas Edison started a cement company in 1899, and the extra-durable cement he developed was used for the original walls.
2. The Stadium was almost built at the site of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum at Amsterdam Avenue between 136th and 138th Streets in Manhattan. Today, that spot is known as the Jacob H. Schiff Playground.
3. New York Governor and soon-to-be Presidential nominee Alfred Smith threw out the first pitch in the new stadium (now old??) in the Bronx.
4. Old Yankee Stadium was the first three-tiered sports facility in the States.
The electronic scoreboard was the first of its kind, too, as was the instant replay display installed after renovations later in the century.
5. Since a lot of the original Yankee Stadium was demolished for renovations in the early "˜70s, some people don't even consider them to be the same stadium. It's sometimes called "Yankee Stadium II".
6. "New York, New York" is played over the stadium loudspeakers at the end of every game. The tradition used to be that the Frank Sinatra version was played if they won and the Liza Minnelli version was played if they lost, but Liza became a little miffed. In 2001, she told them to play her version after a win, or not play it at all. The Yankees opted to play the Sinatra version after every game, regardless of the outcome.
7. About halfway through every game, the grounds crew performs the YMCA. This used to result in some of the bleacher section harassing a fan of the opposing team with the song, except with the words changed to "Why are you gay?" The practice was put to a stop in 2006 when the NYPD started ousting anyone who sang the bleacher version.
8. Like a lot of teams, the Yankees have a superfan that serves as an unofficial mascot. At Yankee Stadium, it's Freddy Schuman. He is in his 80s and is missing an eye as a result of a stickball game in the 1930s. He comes to games with a frying pan to bang on and carries signs that usually start with "Freddy sez". Examples include, "Scream, whistle, keep up noise! It helps Yanks!" and "Fans, We Got to Help Yankees Out Of Slumps". The word is that you can generally find him outside of the stadium before games, but we didn't make it there that early.
9. Monument Park used to actually be in the middle of left field. Before the 1970s remodel, the monuments were even in play. The monuments are a good 460 feet from home plate, so it wasn't every day that a ball would get lost out there "“ but it did happen on occasion. A-Rod and Thurman Munson are among those in the "new" ("old") park to smash a ball all the way out to Monument Park. Monument Park will be relocated to the new stadium.
10. The Batter's Eye at Yankee Stadium is just a section of bleachers (well, they used to be bleachers) painted black. At the new stadium it's going to be a restaurant covered in black glass.
I'm glad we experienced the Stadium before it's lost to history, but I have to say"¦ I prefer Wrigley. OK, Yanks fans, I know I'm going to get battered for that one. Go ahead. Leave me a comment. But don't be too mean!