Voices of Yankee Stadium

Fans of the House of Ruth Give a Last Hurrah.

Yankee Stadium (1923-2008): The House of Ruth will be replaced by a new $1.3 billion ballpark across the street and demolished in two years. Add your own memories below.

Bald
Vinny Milano, 34, has attended more than 800 baseball games at Yankee Stadium. As a kid, he says, "I'd walk into the stadium, and everything in there was all green and white, and it was like a jewel. That's what drew me there."

Credit: Charles Wilson

Vinny Milano, 34, a.k.a. Bald Vinny

Vinny has watched about 800 Yankee home games in the same seat in Section 39, Row B, Seat 18 of the bleachers. After the game's first pitch, he leads the "Roll Call" by Section 39's "Bleacher Creatures." For this ritual, the Creatures scream every Yankee player's name (except the pitcher and catcher) until the player acknowledges them with a wave. Vinny also runs a T-shirt company with Yankee-related themes. Several of his selections offer some unflattering assessments of the Boston Red Sox.

"The fans are one of the elements that make Yankee Stadium what it is. If you don't have the everyday fan in the bleachers who works hard for his money, comes here, who is going to get up on his seat and yell—then all you have is the box seat corporate fans, who come in their suits and ties, and arrive in the 3rd inning and leave in the 7th. That's not a baseball fan…. [In the new stadium,] they've gotten rid of Section 39… They've renamed us 203. I just think it's going to be different. It's going to be different…. Everybody is emotionally attached to this place. One of my favorite things about here is how bleak this area is. Look how shitty this street is. When I was kid, I would walk around here, and everything was brown and black. And I'd walk into the stadium, and everything in there was all green and white, and it was like a jewel. That's what drew me here. Dude, I'm sitting here getting goosebumps just talking about it."

Listen to Bald Vinny talk about the Bleacher Creatures and the impending move to a new Yankee Stadium:

 

 

 

Jonathan Mahler, 39, author of Ladies and Gentleman, The Bronx is Burning

Mahler's book examines New York City in 1977, a tumultuous time in the city's history and a year when the Yankees won the World Series behind Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.

"My father grew up in the South Bronx, not far from Yankee Stadium. He had filled my head with stories of the Bronx. They were idyllic urban tales, of a middle-class upbringing with stickball, two-family houses. He attended Bronx Science for high school, and he went to a lot of Yankee games. I conjured these images of men in fedoras, a Bronx version of Neil Simon. When my family moved back to New York from California in the late 1970s, I first came to Yankee Stadium when I was all of eight years old. It was a dramatically different thing that what I had imagined. The stadium was not surrounded by cheerful two-family houses but by depressing tenements…

"It's a terrible ballpark. I don't like it as a ballpark. It has poor sightlines. I like it only as much as I saw a lot of great games there. It's ugly on the outside, and it's bad on the inside. I have no doubt that the new park will be beautiful, and a much more pleasant place to watch a game, but I worry about the price of seats. What are they going to do to the working-class people who are their fan base? The Yankees claim disingenuously that the luxury boxes are going to subsidize Joe Fan. A ballpark should be a great democratizing force."

Freddy
A Yankee Stadium fixture for 10 years, Freddy has been roaming the seats of Yankee Stadium with a frying pan that has a four-leaf clover painted on it. "You can't help but love this place," he says.

Credit: Charles Wilson

Freddy Schuman, 83, a.k.a. "Frying Pan Freddy"

Since 1988, when he retired, Freddy has been roaming the seats of Yankee Stadium every game with a frying pan that has a four-leaf clover painted on it. He bangs the pan with a spoon to try to start Yankee rallies. Attached to the pan's handle are homemade "Freddy 'Sez'" signs that say things like "Fans we gonna cheer Yankees like crazy!"

"This is a very important memory that I have. The year was 1996. It was Game #6 of the World Series, and we were playing Atlanta. Part of what I do is I try to get the grownups to hit the frying pan.  The marquee comes on and says "Make Some Noise." That's where I shine. They call me "the pan man." But this game, I couldn't get the grownups to hit the frying pan. 'This is the World Series,' I said. 'Let's make us some noise! Let's get something going!' The grownups ignored me completely. This kid, who couldn't have been more than 7 or 8 years old, he grabbed the spoon from me and started to whack the heck out of the frying pan. And I said to the fans, 'Mark my words, this kid is going to win the World Series for us.'… Don't you know, the Yankees made three runs, and the final score was three to two. This kid won the World Series. It was absolutely amazing! That's the thing that I remember most. It stuck in my head…

All of our pennants and all that occurred, our 26 world series, it's been done over here. It's Babe Ruth's stadium. We're going to have to start all over. You can't help but love this place. I've gone through all the hallways, including the bathrooms, so it's very, very fond memories."

Listen to Freddy discuss his fondest memories of Yankee stadium:

 

 

Marty Appel, 60, former Yankees PR director

Marty started working for the Yankees at the age of 19 by answering Mickey Mantle's fan mail. From 1973 to 1977, he served as the team's public relations director.

"Up until the early 1960s, the ushers would open up the gates at the end of the game, and people used to depart Yankee Stadium through the running tracks and out through the outfield grass through the bullpens. They did so in an orderly fashion. No one was stopping to carve out a piece of sod. We used to live like that in America. We didn't even lock our doors…. At the stadium, I had a basement office, and Mickey would always give me his gift certificates whenever he was a guest on a pre-game show. 99.5% percent of the mail was the same thing: 'Dear Mickey, You're my favorite player. Can you please send me an autographed ball?'…

"I'll miss the character of the skyline beyond the outfield. The court building, the Concourse Plaza Hotel, they've been part of that backdrop for so long. The new place doesn't have the same view."

Tony Morante, 66, director of the Yankee Stadium tours

"My dad was an usher, and he started taking me to the stadium in 1949, when I was six years old. The first day that I walked out of a gate behind home plate and saw the blue sky, the green grass, the cumulus clouds, and smelled the aromas from the hot dogs, beers, and peanuts, it left an indelible mark, and it's never left me. In the 1940s, we didn't have a color TV, and when I had seen games it was in black and white. This whole vision exploded before my eyes…

"Bill Fisher was the guy who coughed up the shot that Mickey Mantle hit on May 22, 1963, when the ball nearly left the stadium and dented the copper frieze. Bill was later a pitching coach for an opposing team, and I decided to go down to the visitor's clubhouse. I said: 'Bill, I run the tours here, and we often make reference to you. How did it feel coughing up a shot like that?' He looked at me and said, 'For a ball to have been hit that hard, it must have been coming in pretty fast.'…

"I walk around this stadium every day and I see my father everywhere. He passed away fifteen years ago, and I still see him all over the place."

 

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Comments

Submitted by Tim Reid at: June 24, 2009
www.savetheyankeegate2.com

Submitted by Tim Reid at: June 24, 2009
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-Cwaj2Yxn8

Submitted by Tim Reid at: June 24, 2009
SAVE THE GATE!! Adapting to dire circumstances in the Bronx - the City's refusal to evaluate Yankee Stadium for historical landmark qualifications, need for parkland to replace parkland destroyed by new Yankee Stadium, and impending demolition of an irreplaceable national treasure - baseball fans, historians, preservationists & devoted citizens all over the country have joined in an effort to save The Stadium's majestic, 1920's-original left field gate. To join this national campaign, please see the following story, video, and website. www.savetheyankeegate2.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-Cwaj2Yxn8 http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/bronx/2009/06/21/2009-06-21_gate_way_to_save_history_yankee_fans_rally_to_preserve_entrance_for_the_new_stad.html SAVE THE GATE!! TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-Cwaj2Yxn8

Submitted by Steve Dougherty at: December 10, 2008
At an early age, it was predetermined in my family, that you would be a Yankees fan or you didn't eat. Many years later and overweight, I am a happy Yankees fan. My first game at Yankee Stadium was in the summer of 1982 and the California Angels were in town. This was the first time Reggie Jackson was back after being a Yankee. I remember Reggie hitting a home run, the crowd chanting his name and giving him a standing ovation(and for a visiting team...that's alot!) and the Yankees winning the game. I will never forget the walk down the aisle until that beautiful grass came into view. It will be missed.

Submitted by bigjohn at: September 22, 2008
My father was a German immigrant eight-year old when he came to this country. Baseball, and in particular the Yankees, paved his admission into the Irish-Catholic neighborhood in Manhattan where my grandfather labored as a superintendent. I remember, as though it were yesterday, my first trip to the stadium. It cam shortly after my father returned from WWII in Europe. I can almost conjure the smell of the greenest grass I had ever seen, the enormity of the place, the tiny yellow pencil that came with my first score card. My Dad showed me how to keep score. Spud Chandler was the pitcher and the Yankees won 2-1 against the White Sox. I remember the crunch of the warning track as we walked out into deep center field to the monuments. I knew who Ruth and Gehrig (my father's Mickey Mantle) were, but I learned about Miller Huggins (and maybe Ed Barrow). That was the first of literally hundreds of times we went to the see the Yankees. We always got to the games early to watch batting practice. We'd buy grandstand seats along the first base side, my father proudly pointing to the fact that the folks one row below us had paid twice as much for their tickets. I learned the infield fly rule, that the arrangement of the team pennants on the roof of the stadium corresponded to where the team's standing in the pennant race, and how to compute batting averages and ERA. Most of all, I learned what is was to do things classily, not like the Bums from Brooklyn.

Submitted by Doug Taylor at: September 21, 2008
POWER AND GRACE For near-nine innings Neuhauser blanked the Yanks -- A hit here, a hit there, perhaps a walk, But nothing a strikeout wouldn't mend. Each time Dimaggio came to bat The stadium trembled beneath the weight Of cheers and hopes and hero-dreams. The first three times he went down, easily, Gracefully, while the crowd oohed and sighed; And Neuhauser pitched on, Safely, till the ninth. His team mates from Detroit, or wherever, Had gotten him a single run, and he clung To that thin thread of a lead all night long Toiling on the alien mound Of the House that Ruth built... Two out, none on, in the ninth -- Three more pitches and the victory shower: Then Dimaggio doubled, Keller doubled, Henrich doubled, And we all went home -- they to showers Of Easy Victory and Hard Defeat -- and I At age thirteen, to tell the tale A thousand times, where I had been, The wonders I had seen. Douglas Taylor Copyright 1999 by Douglas Taylor

Submitted by Chrys at: September 19, 2008
Yankee Stadium represents a large part of my youth. My sister and I would cut school and meet at the Ogden Avenue Bus Stop to catch a day game. Seated behind homeplate, we'd scream for Mickey Mantle and Bobby Richardson. And Ladies' Days with my father are the best memories I have of him, this enigmatic gentle man who loved baseball, opera and the ponies, a real Runyonesk character come to life! I see him in the Bleachers during the 66 season with the rain pouring down, the only guy in the stands...broken-hearted when they ended up in last place, and 5 years after he died, he was there again, this time in my living room celebrating with me, his daughter, the triumphant '95 season. For us WW2 babies from NY, The Yankees will always represent the best part of our lives...memories that are as vivid and bright as the day we first experienced them. Thank you, Daddy for giving these memories to us, your girls, your pals!

Submitted by Dave at: September 17, 2008
While I am a diehard baseball fan and ardent student of the game, my virst vist to Yankee Stadium did not come until August 29, 2008. I always promised my father that we'd go see a game at The Stadium before they tore it down. It was a glorious Sunday, taking the D train from midtown to the South Bronx. I tried to capture as much as I could with my camera, and managed to walk around pretty much every area I could, save for Monument Park (as they closed the entry line down after only a few minutes after opening the gates, because the lines were too long) and the Bleachers. It's such a great ballpark, rich with history and tradition. I was amazed at the vibe I could feel there, and can't imagine Yankees baseball being played anywhere but this wonderful place. While I only had one personal opportunity to witness it live, at least I had that much. And the fact that I was able to witness this place with my father made the experience all the more meaningful.

Submitted by Anonymous at: September 6, 2008
My earliest memories of Yankee Stadium was a Friday night game back in 1960 when I was 9 years old. My father took me and some friends and we sat in the upper deck in Right Field. It was my first game. Maybe someone can check this out but I remember Mickey Mantly hitting a ball to dead center field which bounced high off of the black batters tarp above the 461 foot sign. The ball propelled high into the air and landed midway between the 461 foot sign and second base. By the time the Shortstop picked up the ball Mantle was already well past 3rd base and coming home for an uncontested inside the park Homerun. Submitted by Jeffrey L. Doppelt

Submitted by Sol at: September 1, 2008
Does anyone my age (74) feel cheated since the renovations of 1973? My memories are frozen in that cavernous original ballpark where Gionfriddo made the catch in the sixth game of the 1947 World Series off Joe DiMaggio, while falling against a leftfield sign that read "415 ft." Does anyone recall Mantle's catch in Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, as he raced into left center field toward the 457 ft. sign. I also recall both DiMaggio and Mantle scurrying behind the three monuments to Ruth, Gehrig and Miller Huggins at the 461 ft. sign--when all three marble tributes were on the playing field! That enormous ball park puts into clear perspective the modern day home run hitters who drive balls out of today's Yankee Stadium that would have gone to die in the gloves of outfielders of bygone days. One p

Submitted by Rod at: August 30, 2008
The photo of Babe Ruth on page 13 of the September/October PRESERVATION is at Chicago's old Comiskey Park

Submitted by Howard at: August 27, 2008
I remember the first time I went to see a game at Yankee Stadium. I watched every game on TV and listened to games on the radio. It was 1953. My mother was a widow but knew how much I liked the Yankees. We were living in CT. back then. She came into my room one day a said she was taking me to see the Yankees play. We took the train to NY. I remember going through a tunnel just before we go there. All of sudden there it was in big letters-Yankee Stadium. I don't remember much about the game but I do remember sitting behind home plate. A foul ball was heading right for my mom. It hit the iron rail in front of her. I was mad at her for not catching it. It's a shame we are so quick to tear structures down in this country. Money and progress are more important than sentimentality.

Submitted by Tim Reid at: August 24, 2008
The National Trust has been temporarily misinformed that Yankee Stadium is no longer historical. Such a determination is clearly in error. The Trust must lead the way and declare the Stadium eligible for landmarking. Not to do so would fatally undermine its very integrity and prestige - at the same time compromising it authority, credibility, and ability to save other national treasures. There is no real question that Yankee Stadium is worthy of historical landmarking. Indeed, the very fact that it each and every piece of it is (prematurely) lined up for sale to to wealthy collectors and auction houses all over the globe is incontrovertible evidence of its preeminent historical, cultural, and architectural, qualifications as a landmark. If it is not protected NOW, it will be soon plundered in the largest historical collectible raid in our nation's history. The NTHP surely does not any part of that. It's the antithesis of all it stands for. Yankee Stadium is not scheduled for destruction out of any necessity, or because it it "not historically qualified." Indeed, the truth is just the opposite. It is being destroyed because it is SO historically and culturally majestic that it completely overshadows (physically and metaphorically) the new, much less significant stadium (and team.) The House That Ruth Built can not possibly replicated or replaced. No arena since the Roman Coliseum has been the site of as much history. Taking Yankee Stadium from the people of the South Bronx would be a travesty. It's their most magnificent historical treasure. It's the greatest stadium in the world. Let them proudly keep it. It has enriched them, in every way, for nearly a century. Let it be a place where they can finally play on the same hallowed ground that every Yankee from Ruth to A-Rod played ball - not to mention even a few Cardinals (three from Rome) - where Louis defeated Schmeling - Ali vs. Frazier, Giants vs. Colts - 26 World Series Championships... The list is as endless as it is impossible to recreate. Save Yankee Stadium. It's the right thing to do. Let the historic structure stand not only as a landmark for all Americans, but also as a recreational area for the people of New York. The first step is for the NTHP to honor it NOW. It must immediately be declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Submitted by SoBx Gal at: August 24, 2008
The National Trust for Historic Preservation sat on their hands for this one. Unfortunately, an opportunity was lost for the National Trust to get involved in a preservation effort in a well educated, diverse, minority community. Had an effort been made there quite possibly could have been new memberships for the National Trust and a general support of historic preservation in the Bronx. There are a lot more National Register Eligible parks and structures in the great borough of the Bronx and the community does not have the resources to protect them. In addition, the New York City Landmarks Commission was no help either. After 40 + years of existence they have only recently discovered historic properties north of 96th street in Manhattan and in other boroughs as well as sites not associated with Colonial New York. Undeniably the MOST significant ball park in America the loss of Yankee Stadium is indeed a tragedy! Does the Trust think that this forum absolves them for looking the other way? As a practicing preservation professional, in the Midwest, this reaffirms why I am not a member of this elitist organization.

Submitted by Yankee Stadium Lover at: August 23, 2008
Please go to http://www.thepetitionsite.com/petition/299019069 and sign the petition. You can remain anonymous and you can keep it going! Thanks!

Submitted by Yankee Stadium Lover at: August 23, 2008
I am all for keeing parks in the Bronx, however, I think that there are enough parks in that area. You just have to look up Jerome Avenue, beyond the new stadium. Also, are those parks generating any income or creating jobs? Unfortunately, I don't think so...

Submitted by Bill Olexy at: August 23, 2008
I first went to Yankee Stadium at age 9 in 1960 to see the Yankees play the Chicago White Sox who had won the American League championship the year before and had Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox among others. My mom was from the Bronx and as we walked across Jerome Avenue one of the New York City cops assigned to the game gave us a big greeting! It was my mom's cousin, Jackie Mulligan. I remember walking out from under the stands to our seats and being surprised that the field was so green...after watching the games on a black and white tv, I hadn't expected to see such green grass in the middle of the Bronx. We made many visits to the House that Ruth Built in subsequent years...taking in holiday doubleheaders from the bleachers for 75 cent admissions and seeing a few World Series games and the 77 All-Star game. The new stadium will be beautiful...but it will never be the same.

Submitted by Neil deMause at: August 23, 2008
I would love nothing more than to save Yankee Stadium, but unfortunately the way the Yankees and the city devised this deal, it needs to get demolished to make way for new public parks to make up for the ones wiped out for the new stadium. If you kept the House That Ruth Built as a museum or a community resource - can you imagine the waiting list for permits to play softball there? - then local residents would have lost an 80-year-old park and have nothing to replace it. The ideal solution would have been for the Yankees to renovate and restore the existing stadium, a la what the Red Sox are doing with Fenway Park, and let the community keep its parks where they've always been. But Yankees management refused to consider that, and Mayor Bloomberg wouldn't tell them to like it or lump it, so here we are.

Submitted by Yankee Stadium Lover at: August 22, 2008
Yankee Stadium shroud in history and events should stay open for concerts, Papal visits and other sporting events! The infrastructure is already there and these prior mentioned events will NOT BE ALLOWED at the new stadium! This will bring much needed part time and/or seasonal jobs to the people of the South Bronx which would help in it's economy as well. Who would not want to say that they played in Yankee Stadium?!!!? Instead, The NY City Parks Department wants to tear down that wonderful structure. It is ironic and selfish that the Yankee organization is letting this happen. Why is no one else, i.e., mainly the NYC Parks Department allowed to profit from using this glorious structure all year round! Also, from a "green" environmental perspective the space should be REUSED. So they (Yankees) want to sell the seats for a profit that is understandable. Someone else at another local company would love to supply new seats. What about the plumbing, the set up for the rest rooms, the concessions? It is going to cost a lot to disassemble all of the structure- separating the metal, concrete, plastics, etc. It is going to cost a lot to HAUL that stuff away and to dispose of the trash that will result and that will take a lot of diesel, among other waste of materials in order to do that.

Submitted by SuziQZ at: August 22, 2008
HmmmmWhat is the National Trust doing to help "PRESERVE" this historic space????

Submitted by Dolores at: August 19, 2008
Even though I am a diehard citizen of Red Sox Nation, a couple of years ago, I took my sons (then 8 & 10) up from Washington, DC to see a game in Yankee Stadium, given that they were going to tear it down and all. We invited my dad -- a native Brooklyner and diehard Yankee fan -- to join us. He took the train down from Rhode Island and we had a lovely afternoon together (in spite of the fact that the Yankees won). At one point, my son, Ian turned to my dad and asked "Did you ever see Babe Ruth play?" I snorted in disbelief and then was amazed to hear my dad reply: "No, but I didn't miss him by much. I was born in '31 and probably saw my first game in Yankee Stadium in '34 or '35..." I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck as I realized the history -- and the contiuum -- represented by the four of us, from my dad's early days watching Lou Gehrig to my own love affair with Jim Longborg, Carl Yastremski and all the of the 1967 "Impossible Dream" team, to then 5-year old Ian seeing Cal Ripken hit his final home run at Oriole Park in Camden Yards (against theYankees) in 2001. So I'll always treasure that memory of Yankee Stadium -- but it'll take a LOT to get me to visit the new one, especially since they discovered and removed the Red Sox jersey from the foundation). Go Sox!

Submitted by Jeanne Newman - photographer at: August 17, 2008
Opened the year my 85 year old mother was born, Yankee Stadium - her sounds, her scents, her magic - was a constant in my life growing up here in her shadows. She is this magnificent Grand Dame of the Bronx settled just west of the El, rising up above the din of the train, the smell of sausages, hot dogs and pretzels always present, and the never-ending traffic of the people in this Bronx neighborhood. There is nothing wrong with this bastion of history! She embraces the ghosts of all the legends who have played here, cutting their teeth on trying to slam a homeroom outside of her walls. This stadium MUST stay and all of her fans who have been welcomed by her, must insist that the National Trust for Historic Preservation keep her walls from being torn down...The House That Ruth Built must remain as a forever monument to game of baseball, saved by the man whose name is synonymous with hers: Babe Ruth.

Submitted by Herbie Buck-Yankee Fan Since 1940 at: August 17, 2008
I use to go to the stadium when it was $50. to get in and there were upper deck support poles all over the span.The aura of when you walked in was out of this world and something you would never forget.You could feel and see THE BABE,LOU GEHRIG any many more of the greats playing on the same dirt and grass and running the same base paths.The HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT ,became a historical landmark over the years and to have it torn down now,is a travesty and uncalled for.If the Detriot Tigers,whose stadium was built in 1912 and is declared a historical landmark ,is going to be preserved,why cant THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT be ? I dont want to hear because the city owns it ,which is true,but we all know damn well,that if the high and mighty Steinbrenner family requested it,it would be left standing,or at least part of it ,to be used by colleges,etc.to play on with pride.Come on TRUE BLUE YANKEE FANS push for this,cause at the new prices the Yankees want for your seats,you wont be able to go to any more games,without going into debt.

Submitted by Michael T. Mauro at: August 17, 2008
My Dad took me to Yankee Stadium in 1962 when I was ten. It was difficult for him since we were a large family and he worked 15 hours a day six and a half days a week. We lived in Connecticut. The first time I walked through the tunnel and glimpsed the greenest grass I ever saw is still one of the most wonderful memories of my life. I still have the ticket stubs and he scorecard from that day the Yanks played the Washington Senators. Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were my favorites BUT the reason I went to Yankee Stadium was to see where Babe Ruth played. It is afterall The House That Ruth Built. Babe's legend and persona made the Yankees what they are today. Seems the New York Yankees have turned their backs on their own AGAIN! Tear down his house? Not even a mention of honor the Babe in the year they leave his house! In fact, the Yankees are willfully ignoring the Babe and his legacy in this final year. Their front office would rather resurrect the 70's instead of honoring the man who is the ONLY reason why the Yankees did not disappear from the American League and were able to build the fabled House That Ruth Built. Yankee Stadium because of Babe Ruth is larger than the game it houses. Ruth Ruth is larger than the Yankees. Too bad the Yankees habitually dishonor their own.

Submitted by Lin at: August 17, 2008
I am with you all! Let's Save "The House that Ruth Built"!! The "House" is for the fans and I know Babe Ruth WOULD approve of saving his house, not the prices the new stadium is charging! He would not be happy that his fans, because of the price of a seat, could not enjoy a ball game!!! Step up to the plate and make yourself heard!

Submitted by Tim Reid at: August 17, 2008
Let Save It!