As noted in the April 30 post, we made our first visit to Yankee Stadium – our 17th Ballpark – on Saturday, May 4, 2013 when the NY Yankees played host to the Oakland A’s for a 1:05 PM game. I hope you enjoy this review and collection of photos.
Traveling to this ballpark with me was my son, Trevor. We hope to visit all the ballparks together and were happy for this opportunity to check NY off of our list of destinations.
We also had the opportunity to meet up with Gary Herman (no relation) – see picture below. Gary is an avid sports fan who attends more games than you can imagine and also arranges travel plans and tours for others. Please learn more about Gary and Royalty Tours by visiting his blog.
In February of 1921, the Yankees announced that they had purchased 10 acres of property in the Bronx to build a new stadium. The stadium was built in an incredible 284 working days – in time for its inaugural game on April 18, 1923 versus (of course) the Boston Red Sox. 74,200 fans packed Yankee Stadium that day, Babe Ruth had a three-run homer, and the Yankees won 4-1.
The stadium remained relatively untouched except for the addition of lights in 1946. In the offseason of 1966-67 it received a $1.5 million upgrade. Then in 1972, the Yankees signed a 30-year lease with the plan to modernize again for the 1976 season. The Yankees actually moved to Shea Stadium for two seasons during the massive renovation. The last game was played in the original ballpark on Sept 21, 2008.
The “new” Yankee Stadium opened in 2009 with a seating capacity of 50,287 – actually fewer than the original stadium because seat width and legroom was increased to improve fan comfort. The field dimensions remained unchanged. The private luxury suites and party suites increased dramatically.
Lodging & Transportation
We stayed in Manhattan on the Upper East Side at the Courtyard by Marriott on 92nd Street. The hotel selection was predicated on another event that I was attending at Columbia University. However, a Courtyard is often a nice choice and although not “budget” there are certainly more expensive hotels in NYC! Also, we only needed to walk a few blocks to reach the subway station … Green Line … Lexington Ave … also home of the #4 train, which goes to the Bronx and has a stop (161st Street) literally across the street from Yankee Stadium. When traveling to Yankee Stadium, I recommend visiting the MTA’s website where you can get schedules for all trains.
Gates & Entry Times
Yankee Stadium has four gate locations for entry and exit:
- Gate 2: adjacent to left field: Enter via Jerome Avenue and East 164th Street
- Gate 4: behind home plate: Enter via East 161st Street and Jerome Avenue
- Gate 6: adjacent to right field: Enter via East 161st Street and River Avenue
- Gate 8: adjacent to center field: Enter via River Avenue and East 164th Street
Gates open two hours prior to the scheduled start time of every home game. Gate openings are subject to change during inclement weather and for special events, doubleheaders, Opening Day and postseason play. Do check the Yankee Stadium website for current gate information.
We arrived at Gate 6 well before the scheduled opening. We wanted to start there because that is the main gate and the one you see featured in pictures all the time. We walked to Gate 4 and the adjacent “Suite Entrance” because our tickets permitted entry at this gate … and it was certainly a time-saver as well as first class!
The first thing we always like to do when we enter a ballpark for the first time is to walk around the entire park … taking in the view from various points. This is, of course, assuming the ballpark allows this. Happy to report that Yankee Stadium was great! We were able to enter at about any point – head down closer to the field – take photos – move on – repeat! Loved it! Some of my favorite views were from the batter’s eye seating … beautiful!
We also made a quick stop in Monument Park. It was rather crowded and difficult to see and harder to take pictures. We knew we would be returning for a stadium tour on Tuesday, so we didn’t stay long and didn’t include any pictures in this story.
As we worked our way around the field, we also took note of the amazing array of food choices. My goodness – if anyone ever said they couldn’t find something to eat here – I’d have to check their senses … signs, pictures, and aromas abound! Below are just SOME of the many selections available.
Jim Beam Suite
By the time we made our way around the field, made the quick visit to Monument Park, and checked out the various food options – batting practice was coming to a close and we were getting pretty hungry. Perhaps it was the power of suggestion in seeing all those yummy food venues! We decided it might be best to make our way to Level 300 – Jim Beam Suites and see what that had to offer.
We found our seats and decided to check in at the Suite Lounge. Several food options available in the lounge and plenty of Jim Beam at the bar – naturally! We opted for sharing a pizza – good choice – and sodas (free refills throughout the game)! Before leaving the lounge we also grabbed our complimentary peanuts and popcorn. Not bad.
The suite area also has some very nice outdoor seating areas with large flat screen TVs. I suppose if there was rain or very hot, it might be a great option. However, I can watch a ballgame on TV at home or in my hotel – so we headed to our seats. These had to be the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in at a ballgame – talk about cushy! WOW! There was also in-seat service but I never saw any wait staff in our area … that feature definitely not up to the standards of other ballparks.
The view from 320B was fantastic! There were no blind spots on the field, we could see both dugouts pretty well, and the section is centered over home plate – ideal!
I always appreciate the hard-working grounds crew. They do absolutely amazing work to keep the baseball fields in tip-top shape, safe for the players, and beautiful to behold. They came out at the half-way point (middle of the 4th) and did the usual smoothing of the infield dirt. Meanwhile, the music system was blasting the “YMCA” song and everyone was up and singing along. But when it got to the Y-M-C-A part (you know it well … when everyone tries to form the letters!) … the guys dropped their rakes and did the movements in sync. What a hoot! They then picked them up – and continued working … until the next time when they again dropped them and did all the arm motions. I just loved it. This has me thinking … wonder what we can convince the guys in San Diego to do 🙂
The Yankees had maintained a lead over the A’s and my son was especially excited to see the game in a Save situation because he really wanted Rivera to come out. But then the Yankees moved ahead a bit too much (4-0) and it looked like we might not get to see him. But the next thing you know, the A’s have scored and it is 4-2 … and out comes Rivera!
It was certainly a pleasure to have the opportunity to watch him pitch in person. This all-time Saves leader will most likely be a first ballot Hall of Famer and he announced his retirement earlier this year. Rivera has spent his entire MLB career with the Yankees – with his first appearance May 23, 1995 (19 years ago). He has 623 Saves, 12 All-Star selections, and 5 World Series championships … to name a few of his accolades.
Rivera did his job and the Yankees won 4-2 over the A’s. Check out the full boxscore if you are interested. We seem to bring WINS to the teams we visit, which is why we stopped going to Padres road games – LOL! But truly, I’m thinking teams might be wise to comp us some tickets when they really need a “W” in the win column!
Good to Know
When you get to Yankee Stadium, be sure to stop by Guest Services near section 128. Nice folks work there and if it is your first Yankee game, you can sign up for a complimentary certificate. The certificate is available to be picked up after the 5th inning but we opted to have it mailed to us. It arrived the next week – very nice!
I certainly enjoyed sharing our first visit to Yankee Stadium with you and I encourage you to make a visit soon. I highly recommend planning your trip when you can include Citi Field and sightseeing in NYC … take in the full Big Apple experience!
Eleven MLB Teams!
Saw 11 teams play in 7 different games.
Ten Days in Arizona!
Can’t say the weather was great. So spoiled with the typically sunny and warm Spring Training weather in Phoenix but this year it was very chilly the first week (low 40s for morning practices and 60 at game time) and rainy the second week (including a top-of-the 4th rainout). Nevertheless, it was still baseball!
Nine Innings of Baseball!
Honestly – was having trouble coming up with a “9” and this was suggested. It is appropriate since Spring Training games don’t go into extra innings. Overall, I truly saw 75 innings, if you include the World Baseball Classic.
Eight Nights in Hotels!
I’m never sure why people find this great … I would rather be home, in my own bed. But I have no complaints. My longest stay was 5 nights at the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham in Mesa, AZ … it is very close to the AZ101 and to the ballparks on the East side. On our return trip, we stopped in Yuma, AZ and stayed at our usual Oak Tree Inn. Once we arrived in Peoria, AZ, it was back to the Ramada Inn in Peoria … our 3rd stay there. None of these hotels are five star but they are family-friendly, reasonably priced, clean, and conveniently located.
Seven Spring Training Games!
- 2/25 – White Sox at Giants
- 2/26 – Diamondbacks at Angels
- 2/27 – Giants at Angels
- 2/28 – Athletics at Cubs
- 3/01 – Brewers at Rockies
- 3/08 – Athletics at Mariners
- 3/09 – Rangers at Padres
Six New Baseballs!
Five Spring Training Ballparks!
Be sure to read the blogs on each of these ballparks.
4 Media Credentials!
A huge thank you to the following teams for your hospitality:
- Giants – provided Pressbox, Field, and Clubhouse access
- Rockies – provided Pressbox, Field, and Clubhouse access
- Angels – provided Pressbox, Field, and Clubhouse access … was able to interview Manager, Mike Scioscia
- Padres – was able to interview, Manager, Bud Black
3 Great Travel Companions!
This was our sixth consecutive year to make the trek to Arizona for Spring Training … it is amazing how much the boys have grown in that time.
2 World Baseball Classic Games!
We loved the WBC when it was in San Diego in 2009 and were happy to have the opportunity to catch some games in conjunction with Spring Training. We saw USA play Italy on 3/08 and then USA play Canada on 3/10. TheBaseballPHD even got a few tweets on the jumbotron 🙂
1 More Year of Terrific Memories!
It was another wonderful year at Spring Training and I look forward to 2014 … but first, it’s time for the regular season! Play Ball!!
Mesa, Arizona, 10 miles east of Phoenix and location of the Hohokam Stadium (also known as Dwight W. Patterson Field) is the Spring Training home for the Chicago Cubs. Mesa has hosted the Cubs since 1952 and Hohokam Stadium, which opened in 1997, also serves as the home for the Mesa Solar Sox team of the Arizona Fall League. There is a supplemental training facility about a half-mile away – Fitch Park – that includes four practice fields and a practice infield. Extensive seating and a large berm area provides a capacity of 13,074 and they sell out quite frequently! The berm area is spacious and with many more amenities than other stadiums. For a view of the Superstition Mountains, be sure to sit in the 200-level sections (third base side).
The stadium is named after the Mesa HoHoKams, an influential local civic organization that has been the booster of Spring Training baseball in Mesa since 1951. However, the origin of the name actually dates back to the Hohokam Indians who occupied that area until the mid-1400’s. Mesa boasts over 90 years of baseball beginning in 1921 with Rendezvous Park. Spring Training arrived in Mesa in 1950 with a minor league team and then the Cubs in 1952.
What is it about Cubs fans? Regardless of the venue, regardless of the record, they are out in full force and supporting their team vigorously. It must be something in the agony of defeat that pulls together a culture that remains loyal in that long-time quest for a championship. The Chicago Cubs (notably, their fans!), have set many Spring Training attendance records … 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009 major league record culminating with 203,105 in 2009 through 19 home games. The newer Salt River Fields has recently broken the record.
Notes – Although all indications were that you could not enter the ballpark for BP, I arrived just after 10:00 AM and was told it was open. Sure enough, the Cubs were taking BP – there was hardly anyone in the stadium and it was great to have easy access to all parts of the stadium except the berm area – it remained closed until the end of BP. Similar to many Spring Training facilities, the Fergie Jenkins Foundation ensured there were several retired MLB players available to sign autographs for charity. In that same area, behind the left field line bleachers, there was a trailer serving Iowa breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches – had to have one – glad I did!
Point of Interest – This is the last year to see the Chicago Cubs call Hohokam their Spring Training home. Their new Spring Training facility is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed in December 2013. It will be 3.3 miles west of Hohokam Park at the crossroads of the AZ101 and AZ202 loops. I look forward to visiting it after it is opened.
The Athletics are Coming! The following statement was posted March 5, 2013 on the Athletic’s Facebook page:
The Oakland Athletics and the City of Mesa have reached a 20-year agreement for the team to train in the East Valley city, beginning in February 2015. The A’s, who also hold two five-year options that could extend the contract to 30 years, will conduct workouts at Fitch Park and play their Spring Training games at Hohokam Stadium, the current home of the Chicago Cubs. Fitch Park and Hohokam Stadium are scheduled to undergo $20 million in renovations next year.
As you can see, Hohokam Stadium provides everything you need to enjoy a baseball game and I encourage you to put this destination on your list!
The Baseball PHD visited Hohokam Stadium on Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 … The Cubs hosted the Athletics and the home team was victorious with a 5-3 score and 4,037 fans in attendance.Ballpark address: 1235 North Center Street Mesa, AZ 85201
I had a terrific visit with the Cactus League last week … still writing about it! Now it is time for a return trip – this time with family and friends. This will mark our sixth consecutive year to make the trip to Arizona for Spring Training and we can’t wait!
As previously noted, my first trip this year was for the East side ballparks – for this trip, we will be mostly on the West side, including our hometown favorite – Peoria Sports Complex – celebrating its 20th Anniversary. We will also make treks to Chase Field and Goodyear Ballpark.
What’s on the agenda? I love watching the boys of summer practice. Yup – That’s right – Practice. There is just something so pure about it when they toss the ball, run the bases, shag in the outfield, and swing away at batting practice. I love how they cheer one another on (and heckle from time to time) as they have some friendly competition (and likely side bets) about who can hit it the farthest.
We hope to speak with some players, get some autographs, take some pictures, and – of course – watch some baseball games. Specifically, we will see:
- Friday, March 8 – Athletics @ Mariners [Peoria]
- Saturday, March 9 (afternoon) – Rangers @ Padres [Peoria]
- Saturday, March 9 (evening) – World Baseball Classic … USA vs. Italy [Chase Field]
- Sunday, March 10 – Rangers @ Indians [Goodyear]
In addition to that awesome schedule, we have dinner plans on Friday night with a Major League player and his wife … more about that in another blog! And Saturday a pre-game event for Padres Platinum “Fanatic” Members … reception, luncheon, program, and then group seating for the game.
It is going to be a fantacular weekend!
The Baseball PHD