Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Faux Flashback: How to Go to a Game at the Old Yankee Stadium

As the Citi Series moves to the new Yankee Stadium, here's my Faux Flashback for how to go to the old one, which I could have done in 2007 or 2008, if I'd thought of it.

Let's go back to 2000, when the World Trade Center still stood, "President Clinton" meant Bill, Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump were people we were glad to have as Yankee Fans, no thinking person thought that Alex Rodriguez should ever be a Yankee, and the Curse of the Bambino was still in effect.

Before You Go. Since this is a home game, you can easily check the weather, and you don't have to worry about packing for the plane/train/bus, time zones, your passport, or changing your money.

Tickets. The Yankees averaged 40,651 fans per home game in 1999. It's best to order your tickets ahead of time -- especially if the Yankees are playing the Red Sox or an Interleague game against the Mets.

Do not trust the scalpers, and there will be loads of them. Back in the 1980s, I bought a ticket "right over the dugout." Yeah, way over the dugout in the upper deck. The next night, I bought one "right on the left-field foul line." Yeah, right behind the left-field foul pole. To make matters worse, the Yanks lost both games!

Note: These ticket prices are from memory, and may not be correct. If you can find a link to the actual 2000 ticket prices, let me know in the Comments section.

And, of course, the Yankees charge the highest ticket prices in Major League Baseball. (That hasn't changed.) Field Level (lower deck) Boxes cost $75, Main Level (also lower deck) Boxes $55, Main Level Reserved $42, Loge (middle deck) Boxes $42, Upper Boxes $32, and Upper Reserved $18.

Bleachers, which are only available on the day of the game, are $10. But if you are a fan of the visiting team, do not buy a ticket for the Bleachers. If someone offers you a free ticket in the Bleachers, do not take it. Even free, it will not be worth it. Ignoring this warning may be the biggest mistake of your life, especially if you are a Red Sox fan. The "Bleacher Creatures," those are hard-core people out there. If you are familiar with what happens at European soccer games, note that this is one of the few places in North American sports that can get like that. Of course, as I well know, Fenway, particularly its bleachers, is another.

If you root for the Mets and you want to see an interleague game at Yankee Stadium, the same thing applies. If you root for another American League Eastern Division team -- the Baltimore Orioles, the Tampa Bay Rays or the Toronto Blue Jays -- you'll be better off, but still don't go for the Bleachers. And if you root for anyone, else, still: Think of the Bleachers as the barn, or the basement, in a horror movie: Don't go in.

Getting There. Getting to New York is fairly easy. However, I do not recommend driving, especially if you are a Red Sox fan and have Sox or other New England sports paraphernalia on it (bumper sticker, license-plate holder, decals, etc.). Chances are, it won’t get vandalized, but you never know.

For those of you who are not Red Sox fans: If you are coming from Baltimore or other points south, take Interstate 95 North up through New Jersey (this includes the New Jersey Turnpike), over the George Washington Bridge, and then Interstate 87, the Major Deegan Expressway, south to Exit 5 for The Stadium. (William F. Deegan was one of the founders of the American Legion, and a Democratic politician in New York.)

If you are coming from Cleveland, Toronto, or other points west, find your way to Interstate 80, which will also flow into the GW Bridge. Be warned, though: That bridge is notorious for traffic delays.

In fact, it would be a shame if you came to New York only for one baseball game -- especially if it is your first visit. My recommendation, then, is to make it a weekend visit, and get a hotel outside New York City, preferably in New Jersey, where it will be a lot cheaper, and you can leave your car in a safe parking lot. Most cities and towns in New Jersey have bus or train service, with New Jersey Transit as the main (but not only) carrier, into Manhattan, and from there, you can take the Subway up to The Stadium. Yes, the bus and the train will cost a bit, but the money you'll save with an outside-the-City hotel will more than make up for it.

And you really shouldn't drive in The City. I've heard it said that Boston drivers come in 2 classes, depending on how big their car is: Homicidal and suicidal. New York drivers are the same way, and traffic is every bit as bad as what you're used to. If you're coming from New England, approaching New York from the north, you can probably find something affordable in Westchester County or Connecticut, and then take the Metro-North Commuter Railroad in.

If you are coming from New England, and you feel that you must drive, it's 208 miles by road from Downtown Crossing in Boston to Yankee Stadium II, 206 miles from Fenway to the House That Steinbrenner Built.

If you're going from Boston, or anywhere else in Massachusetts, take the Massachusetts Turnpike, Interstate 90, to Exit 9 for Interstate 84 South, into Connecticut. At Hartford, take Exit 86 to Interstate 91 South, taking it all the way to the end, switching to I-95 South at New Haven.

If you're starting out in Rhode Island, simply get on I-95. If you're starting out anywhere in Connecticut, take any highway that leads to I-95, whether it’s I-91, I-395, U.S. Route 7 or Connecticut State Route 8.

If you're starting out in New Hampshire, take I-93 to I-495 to the Mass Pike (so you don't have to go through Boston itself) and then follow the directions for starting from Massachusetts as listed above. If you're starting out in Maine, take I-95 across New Hampshire and into Massachusetts, then take I-495 and follow the directions from Massachusetts. If you're starting out in Vermont, I'll get to that in a moment, because the directions are a bit different.

If you're only going to one game, and not "doing the city," then, once you're in New York, follow signs for Interstate 278, the Bruckner Expressway. (Henry Bruckner was a Bronx Borough President.) Take that to Interstate 87 North, the Deegan. On the Deegan, take Exit 5 for Yankee Stadium. The address is 161st Street & River Avenue.

The one New England State that's an exception to the above sets of directions is Vermont. If you're starting out there, take US-4 into New York State, across the Hudson River, and take I-87 South, known first as the Northway and then, once you get through Albany, as the New York State Thruway, on down, until you cross the City Line into The Bronx and it becomes the Deegan. You'll still take Exit 5 to get to the Stadium, unless you get a hotel and head there first.

Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington are too close to fly to New York, and once you factor in fooling around with everything you gotta do at each airport, it doesn't really save you much time compared to driving, the bus or the train.

Anyone coming in from outside the Northeast Corridor, if you can afford to fly, that is probably your best option. Even though Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey isn't very good. John F. Kennedy International Airport in southern Queens is good only for international travel, if that. And LaGuardia International Airport (named for the 1934-45 Mayor) in northern Queens is a joke – and not just because it's close to Rikers Island (site of the City's prison) and the Mets' Shea Stadium. (I know, I know: "What's the difference?" When you're a Met fan, the sentence never ends, and nobody tries to escape to Yankeedom.)

If you can afford Amtrak, the train is a good option -- if you're coming from the Northeast Corridor or Chicago. If it's the Corridor, you can come to New York and it will take less than 5 hours. If it's Chicago or the South, the ride will be overnight, and you can get a decent night's sleep. But anything farther than that, and it will require more than one night. If you're coming from Cleveland or Detroit, you're talking about boarding a train in the middle of the night, which is no good. And if you're coming from Toronto, there's only one train per day in each direction: You'll be leaving in the morning and arriving too late to catch that night's game, and reversing the trip, too early to attend the next day's game.

Bus schedules are better, with far more runs to New York from most cities. But riding the bus is no picnic, especially from outside the Northeast Corridor. I've ridden buses from New York to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago, and back. If you can't afford to fly and don't want to drive that far, the bus is better than the train. But if you can afford to fly, do it.

Once In the City. Pennsylvania Station, a.k.a. Penn Station, is between 31st and 33rd Streets, between 7th and 8th Avenues. Port Authority Bus Terminal, or just "Port Authority," is between 40th and 42nd Streets, between 8th and 9th Avenues. They are one stop apart on the Subway's A, C and E trains.
Port Authority, 8th Avenue entrance.
As John Mellencamp would say if he were a New Yorker,
"I fight Port Authority, Port Authority always wins."

When you get to your hotel, Penn Station or Port Authority, go to a Hudson News stand and pick up copies of The New York Times and the Daily News. Don’t read the New York Post. Like anything owned by Rupert Murdoch, it’s a bunch of right-wing lies with an occasionally good sports section added. The Times and the Daily News, however, are not only manned by responsible journalists, but have great sports sections. The Times is the face New York City likes to show the rest of the world. The Daily News is the face the City prefers to show itself. The Post is a face only a mother could love. Not my mother, though. Nor hers.
The front entrance to Penn Station and Madison Square Garden,
on 7th Avenue at 32nd Street

To get from either Penn Station or Port Authority to Yankee Stadium, you need to take the Subway. Trust me, it's cheaper than a cab, and, despite horror stories from the 1970s and '80s, it's not the scary place it was then. If you can handle the Boston T's Green Line, or Chicago's El, you can handle the New York Subway.

The first thing you need to do when you get into a Subway station is buy a MetroCard. No more tokens: They were used from 1953 to 1995, but they were phased out, just like they were in most cities. (As far as I know, the only cities in North America that still use tokens are Philadelphia and Toronto.)
The fare is $1.50 for a one-way ride, but do yourself a favor and get a multiple-ride card. Whichever kind you get, they can be used on both Subway trains and buses.

The fare is now $2.75.
The A and C Trains go to both Penn Station and Port Authority, so take either one to 59th Street-Columbus Circle. Change there, a free transfer, for the D Train. Or, from both Penn Station and Port Authority, you can walk over to 6th Avenue (a.k.a. Avenue of the Americas, but only the street signs and the Postal Service call it that) and take the D all the way up to 161st Street.

If you get a hotel in the City, and it’s on the West Side, simply follow the above directions for the Subway. If your hotel is on the East Side, then take the Number 4 train up to 161st Street. (You may have to take the Number 6 to a transfer point to get the 4.) Unlike the D, this one will be above ground as you approach The Stadium.
The 161st Street elevated station

The city of New Amsterdam, and the colony of New Netherland, was founded by the Dutch in 1624. In 1664, the English took over, and named both city and colony New York, for the Duke of York, brother of King Charles II. As none of Charles' many children were legitimate, when he died in 1685, that brother became King James II -- and his reign did not end well, and let's leave it at that.

New York County, a.k.a. the Borough of Manhattan, was also named for James. "Manahatta" was an Indian word meaning "island of many hills." Kings County was named for King Charles, but the Dutch name Breuckelen stuck, and it became the City, and after 1898 the Borough, of Brooklyn. Queens County, or the Borough of Queens, was named for King Charles' Portuguese wife, Catherine of Braganza. Richmond County was named for one of Charles' sons, Charles Lennox, Earl of Richmond, but the Dutch name Staaten Eylandt stuck, and it became the Borough of Staten Island. And Jonas Bronck settled the land north of Manhattan, which became known as Bronck's Land, which somehow morphed into "The Bronx." Apparently, the "The" became attached because of the Bronx River that passes through it, as rivers are still frequently called that: The Hudson is, although never "The Harlem" or "The East." Anyway, it's the Borough of The Bronx and Bronx County.

New York has been the most populous city in America since surpassing Philadelphia in the post-Revolutionary period, and now has about 8.4 million people living in the Five Boroughs. About 23 million live in the New York Metropolitan Area, a.k.a. the New York Tri-State Area, which includes The City, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley in the State of New York; Northern and Central New Jersey; and the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven.
Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge, 1973 to 2001

Despite having a street grid, Manhattan doesn't quite follow a centerpoint system. For the east-west numbered Streets, below Washington Square Park, Broadway is the divider between the East Side and the West Side; above Washington Square to the Harlem River, it's 5th Avenue; in The Bronx, it's Jerome Avenue, which borders the 3rd-base stands of the new Stadium.

On the East Side, the Avenues go 5th, Madison, Park (which takes the place of 4th Avenue above Union Square), Lexington, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, York, East End. Numbered Streets will reach an address of 1 at 5th, 100 at Park, 200 at 3rd, 300 at 2nd, 400 at 1st. On the Lower East Side, this extends to 500 at Avenue A, 600 at Avenue B, 700 at Avenue C and 800 at Avenue D. (A, B, C and D, hence the nickname for this neighborhood: "Alphabet City.") The Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive (FDR Drive), formerly the East River Drive and once so dangerous it was called the Falling Down Roadway, separates the island from the East River.

On the West Side, the Avenues go 6th, a.k.a. Avenue of the Americas, Lenox Avenue or Malcolm X Blvd. above Central Park; 7th, a.k.a. Fashion Avenue, or Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. above Central Park; 8th, Central Park West above 59th Street, or Frederick Douglass Blvd. above Central Park; 9th, Columbus Avenue above 59th, or Morningside Drive above 110th; 10th, Amsterdam Avenue above 59th; 11th, West End Avenue above 59th, merging with Broadway at 108th; and Riverside Drive. The West Side Highway, a.k.a. the Joe DiMaggio Highway, separates the island from the Hudson River.

The north-south numbered Avenues start with 1 at their southern ends, and the addresses go up going Uptown, but there's no set pattern (every X blocks = 100 house numbers), and they vary as to where they begin: 

Broadway, The Battery at the island's southern tip; 1st and 2nd, Houston Street (roughly, Zero Street -- and that's pronounced HOW-stin, not HEW-stin like the Texas city); 3rd, 9th Street; Lexington, 21st Street; Park, 32nd Street (Park Avenue South extends to 17th Street); Madison, 23rd Street (at Madison Square); 5th, Washington Square North (roughly, 6th Street); 6th, Franklin Street (the only numbered Avenue below Houston, so it's about -12th Street); 7th, 11th Street (7th Avenue South extends to Carmine Street, roughly at Houston); 8th, Bleecker Street (roughly 10th Street at that point); 9th, Gansevoort Street (roughly 12th Street); 10th and 11th, 13th Street; 12th, 22nd Street.

Going In. Yankee Stadium is 6 miles due north of Times Square. Parking decks are on River Avenue at 157th Street (the old deck, across from where the old Stadium was, by the Big Bat) and at 165th Street (north of the new Stadium). I wouldn't recommend driving to the Stadium, though, and don't even ask how much parking is. Take the Subway.
Gate 4 and the Big Bat

The Big Bat was the idea of Joe Garagiola Jr., son of the broadcaster, and a young lawyer working for the Yankees while The Stadium was being renovated in the mid-1970s. He saw plans for a smokestack, and thought it might be a good idea to have it look like a bat. George Steinbrenner agreed, and a deal was cut with Louisville Slugger, to make it look like the model of bat that Babe Ruth used. It became the focal point for Yankee Fans meeting at the game: They'd say, "Meet me at The Bat."

There are 4 gates. Gate 2 is at the left field corner, Gate 4 behind home plate, Gate 6 at the right field corner, and Gate 8 is the Bleacher entrance in straightaway center field. Your ticket will suggest which gate at which you should enter.
Gate 2 in left field, along 161st Street. Gates 4 and 6 also looked like this,
unblocked by escalator towers, before the renovation.
There was a movement to save Gate 2, as with the original
Shea Stadium Home Run Apple, but it failed.

If you come in from the Subway, most likely, you will end up going down River Avenue, under the El tracks, past the souvenir shops like Stan the Man's Baseball Land and the bars like Stan's and Billy's, to 157th Street, making a right, and entering at Gate 4 or 6.
Entering by Gate 2 will give you your best shot at seeing Monument Park, but there will already be a long line there, and it closes 45 minutes before first pitch, so you may be out of luck unless you have time to take the Stadium Tour before one of the other games in the series.

This is still true at the new Stadium. However, no matter which gate you enter by, you will be able to get to the Yankee Museum, which is open all game long.

About the Stadium Tour: Classic Individual Tours may be purchased for 14 people or less and commence every 20 minutes primarily from 11:00 AM to 1:40 PM. When these tours sell out, other time slots may become available, from as early as 9:00 AM to as late as 4:40 PM.

Use the bathrooms before the game. They're clean, but not very big, and the lines can get ridiculous. This is something Yankee owner George Steinbrenner always talks about when he says he wants a new Stadium. That and more concession stands. I'll get to that shortly.

The Stadium points due east, although it will look like it points northeast on some maps, including the Subway system map, as Manhattan Island is not quite a north-south pointer. The view of the City beyond isn't much, mostly high-rise apartments, many of them housing projects, some of them still classifiable as "tenements" or "slums." However, you will be able to see the big marble Bronx County Administration Building.
The best part of the City is behind the 1st base stands. And, on a number of occasions, Phil Rizzuto would announce that a home run had been hit "all the way to Jersey." Despite living in New Jersey most of his adult life, the Scooter got mixed up sometimes: New Jersey would be in foul territory.
Distances are 318 down the left field line, 399 to left-center, 408 to center, 385 to right-center, and 314 down the right-field line. These are the same distances the old Yankee Stadium had from 1988, when Monument Park was expanded, until it closed in 2008.

When the Stadium opened in 1923, it looked very different, even from the building familiar from constant viewing of old World Series highlight reels. The triple decks did not curl around the left field pole until 1928, nor around the right field pole until 1937.
Yankee Stadium on its 1st Opening Day, April 18, 1923.

In other words, Babe Ruth never played at "the classic Yankee Stadium" (except in a couple of war-bond drive old-timers' games in 1942 and '43), and Lou Gehrig played very few.
A rare color panorama shot of the pre-renovation Stadium.
Since the seats are blue instead of green,
this had to have been taken between 1967 and 1973.

The Stadium was lighted in 1946. The original scoreboard was replaced in 1950, and an even better one came in 1959. A minor renovation in the 1966-67 off-season painted the old sandstone exterior white, and replaced the green seats with wider ones in the now-familiar royal blue, reducing seating capacity from 67,224 to 65,010.

The major renovation of 1973-76 cantlievered the stadium, allowing them to rip out the support poles and still support the upper deck; raised the Bleacher wall to twice its height (preventing fans from watching the game from the 161st Street El station for the price of a Subway token), moved the familiar frieze (often incorrectly called a "façade") from the roof to the top of the Bleacher wall; installed still wider seats, reducing the seating capacity to 57,545; replaced the screen used as a center field hitter's background with center field bleachers painted black; and lowered the field, creating better sight lines.
During the renovation, 1974

The Monuments and Plaques were also moved from straightaway center field, within the field of play, where fans could view them by being allowed onto the field after the game and exiting under the Bleachers onto 161st Street; into Monument Park in left-center field. The fences were moved in to once again allow fans to view them for the 1985 season, and further in 1988.

The field is natural grass. Comparing the distances at the various Stadium configurations, listed as follows: 1923-36, 1937-73, 1976-84, 1985-87, 1988-present:

LF line: 285, 301, 312, 312, 318.
LF straightaway: 395, 402, 387, 379, 379.
LC: 460, 457, 430, 411, 399.
CF straightaway: 520, 461, 417, 410, 408.
RC: 425, 407, 385, 385, 385.
RF straightaway: 350, 344, 353, 353, 353.
RF line: 295, 296, 310, 310, 314.
The longest homer at the Stadium, unless someone can prove Babe Ruth hit one longer (and he might have), was by Mickey Mantle, off Ray Herbert of the Chicago White Sox, on August 12, 1964 -- helping to make a winner of Mel Stottlemyre in his major league debut. The length of this homer is in dispute: I've seen it listed as 502 feet and 540. Regardless, it was batting lefthanded, and to straightaway center -- which would have been in the blacked-out hitters' background in the current configuration.

Moving the fences in for 1988 made it impossible to fit a football field in. Various pro football teams calling themselves the New York Yankees have played at the Stadium, but the best-known football team to play there was the New York Giants. They moved in for the 1956 season, and won the NFL Championship that season on a frozen Yankee Stadium field, beating the Chicago Bears 47-7. They also hosted the NFL Championship Game in 1958 (losing the overtime classic to the Baltimore Colts) and 1962 (losing to the Green Bay Packers).

College football also found a home at the pre-renovation Stadium. Fordham played New York University on several Thanksgiving Days. Army and Notre Dame played each other there a few times, including in 1928, when ND coach Knute Rockne invoked the late Fighting Irish star George Gipp with his "Win one for the Gipper" speech (they did); and in 1946, when Number 1 and undefeated Army faced Number 2 and undefeated Notre Dame in the 1st college football game to be billed as "The Game of the Century," and it didn't live up to the hype, ending in a scoreless tie.

In 1971 and 1972, moving to Shea for 1973, 1974 and 1975, returning in 1976, and then moving to the Meadowlands after 1987, the Whitney M. Young Urban League Classic, named for the founder of the civil rights organization the Urban League, was played at Yankee Stadium, between 2 "historically black colleges," 1 of them usually being Eddie Robinson's Grambling State University.
This is the last Army-Notre Dame game played at the Stadium, 1969.
Note that the field ran from left field to 1st base,
so that it had a proper north-to-south alignment.

The Stadium hosted some of the biggest soccer clubs in the world: Glasgow's Celtic Football Club in 1931; English clubs Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in 1952; Brazil's Santos, featuring Pelé, against Italy's Internazionale Milano (a.k.a. Inter Milan) in 1966; Santos, Spain's Real Madrid, Portugal's Benfica featuring Eusébio, and Italy's Napoli in 1968; and Italy's Inter, A.C. Milan and Juventus, Spain's Barcelona, Greece's Panathinaikos, and Czechoslovakia's Sparta Prague in 1969.

The Stadium hosted the U.S. national team playing Israel in the new country's 1st international match in 1948, the U.S. vs. England in 1953, the U.S. vs. Israel again in 1968, and England vs. Italy in 1976. The original New York Cosmos, of the original North American Soccer League, played home games there in 1971 and, after signing Pelé, in 1976.
Pelé with the Cosmos in 1976. The dirt infield
was a bigger problem in "futbol" than it was in "football."

Boxing was a mainstay of the pre-renovation Stadium. After losing the Heavyweight Championship of the World to Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey tuned up for his 1927 rematch at the Stadium, knocking out Jack Sharkey. (He subsequently lost to Tunney again, in Chicago, in the famous "Long Count" fight.) Heavyweight Champions Joe Louis (most memorably against Max Schmeling in 1938), Rocky Marciano and, in the only prizefight there after the renovation, Muhammad Ali in 1976 all defended the title at the Stadium.

Food. Because of the prices inside, the traditional recommendation for food at a Yankee game has been to eat outside. Also, the food, traditionally, hasn't been great. As the team moved into the Nineties and got better, to his credit, George Steinbrenner demanded that the fans get a better food experience. A few specialty stands went up, including a little bakery stand that I highly recommend,behind home plate on the Main Level.

Still, you should avoid the concession stands with their long lines, and patronize the in-the-stands vendors. You won't save money, but you will save time. But aside from a hot dog or a pretzel, and maybe a snack like the traditional peanuts or Cracker Jack, eat before and after the game.
The pipes and air ducts don't exactly help the atmosphere.

There is a Yankees Cafe on the Field Level, on the 1st base side, that allows you to eat outside, fenced off from 157th Street and the pedestrian walkway between the Stadium and the parking deck. But why would you go to Yankee Stadium, pay Yankee ticket and food prices, and, essentially, willingly not be in Yankee Stadium? Even with the TVs so you could watch the game and the speakers so you could hear John Sterling and Michael Kay broadcast it?

Team History Displays. No team in all of sports does this better than the Yankees -- as they've told us time and time again. 161st Street outside the Stadium is known as Babe Ruth Plaza, and east of River Avenue, extending to the Grand Concourse past the Courthouse is Lou Gehrig Plaza. The West Side Highway in Manhattan has been renamed the Joe DiMaggio Highway, but nobody calls it that.

The 24 World Championships are now noted outside, above Game 4, and inside, on the facing of the press box: 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1977, 1978, 1996, 1998 and 1999. (They've since added 2000 and 2009.) 

In Monument Park, there are notations for the retired numbers, and the Monuments and Plaques. "Monuments" are meant only for the greatest of the great, and then only after they die. It started in 1932 for Miller Huggins, who won the club's 1st 6 Pennants and its 1st 3 World Series, and died while still Yankee manager in 1929 -- the only Yankee manager to die in office. It was placed on the field, in front of the center field flagpole.

This was not a new innovation, as the New York Giants had already done it at the Polo Grounds for ex-player Eddie Grant, who had been killed in World War I; the monument was lost after they moved to San Francisco. The Pittsburgh Pirates had also placed a monument in center field of Forbes Field for owner Barney Dreyfuss, and moved it to Three Rivers Stadium and now to PNC Park.

Huggins' Monument was joined by Gehrig's in 1941 and Ruth's in 1949. Legend has it that a ball was hit out there one time, and Mantle couldn't catch it, and manager Casey Stengel yelled, "Ruth, Gehrig, Huggins, somebody throw that ball in!" (Most likely, there was a profanity mixed in there.) While this play does not survive on film, there is a surviving 1970 clip of Bobby Murcer letting a ball go off his glove, and it rolled to the wall, and he squeezed between the Huggins and Ruth Monuments to get it.

Plaques for owner Jacob Ruppert and general manager Ed Barrow were placed on the wall of the old Stadium, as were Plaques for DiMaggio, Mantle, and one donated by the local Knights of Columbus to commemorate the 1965 Mass delivered by Pope Paul VI, the 1st Papal Mass ever delivered in the Western Hemisphere. Barrow's Plaque was to the left of the Monuments, the others to the right.
Mantle posing with the Monuments. L to R: Gehrig, Huggins, Ruth

When the old Stadium was renovated from 1973 to 1976, the Monuments and Plaques were placed away from the field in the 1st "Monument Park." When Mantle died in 1995, his Plaque was removed the next year and replaced with a Monument; the same was done for DiMaggio early in the 1999 season, shortly after his death.
The figures with Plaques rather than Monuments are: Ruppert and Barrow; catchers Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard and Thurman Munson; 1st baseman Don Mattingly; 2nd baseman and manager Billy Martin; shortstop and broadcaster Phil Rizzuto; right fielders Roger Maris and Reggie Jackson; pitchers Lefty Gomez, Allie Reynolds and Whitey Ford; managers Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel; and broadcaster Mel Allen. Mattingly is the only one of the honored players never to have won a Pennant.

Remember, that list is as of the start of the 2000 season, with Sheppard being added that season. A Monument to the 9/11 victims and rescuers was added on the 1st anniversary of the attacks, and the one to Steinbrenner was added in 2010 after his death. Plaques have since been added for catcher Jorge Posada, 1st baseman Tino Martinez, 2nd baseman Willie Randolph, center fielder Bernie Williams, right fielders Reggie Jackson and Paul O'Neill; pitchers Red Ruffing, Mel Stottlemyre, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage and Andy Pettitte; manager Joe Torre, and public-address announcer Bob Sheppard One for pitcher Mariano Rivera will be added on August 14 of this year. Still no indication as to when shortstop Derek Jeter will get his.

There are also Plaques honoring the civil rights rally held at the old Stadium by Nelson Mandela in 1990; the Masses delivered by Popes Paul VI in 1965 and John Paul II in 1979 The 1st 2 led to a dumb joke: "Who are the two Cardinals honored in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park?" The answer is "Miller Huggins and Roger Maris." They both played for the St. Louis Cardinals. (Benedict XVI was added after his Mass in 2008.)

The retired numbers are: Martin 1, Ruth 3, Gehrig 4, DiMaggio 5, Torre 6, Mantle 7, 8 for both Dickey and Berra, Maris 9, Rizzuto 10, Munson 15, Ford 16, Posada 20, Mattingly 23, Howard 32, Stengel 37, Rivera 42, right fielder Reggie Jackson 44, Pettitte 46, Guidry 49 and Williams 51.
They have since added Torre 6, Posada 20, Rivera 42, Pettitte 46, Guidry 49 and Williams 51. The 2 of Jeter and the 21 of O'Neill remain unofficially retired.

Not every player with a Plaque has had his number retired. Gomez wore 11, Ruffing 15 (retired for Munson), and Reynolds 22. Huggins died just as uniform numbers were first used, in 1929, and he never wore a number. Nor did McCarthy, even though he was managing in the major leagues as late as 1950.

Strangely, there are Yankees in the Hall of Fame who have not been honored with either a Plaque or a retired number: Pitchers Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock (both pitched mostly before numbers were worn and did not have a regular number thereafter) and Jim "Catfish" Hunter (29, although the Oakland Athletics retired his 27); 2nd baseman Tony Lazzeri (6); and outfielders Earle Combs (1) and Dave Winfield (31).

Outfielder Enos Slaughter (17) is in the Hall, but is better remembered as a Cardinal (they retired his 9, after Maris and Torre had worn it with them). 1st baseman Johnny Mize (36) is better remembered as a Cardinal (they haven't retired his 10) and a Giant (they haven't retired his 15).

In 1933, the 1st All-Star Game was held. Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri, Dickey, Gomez and Ben Chapman (we don't like to talk about him, due to how he treated Jackie Robinson as Philadelphia Phillies manager in 1947) were the Yankees named to the American League team.

In 1969, in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of professional baseball, an All-Time Team was selected. Ruth was selected as the Greatest Player Ever, DiMaggio as the Greatest Living Player (a conceit he insisted upon being introduced as for the rest of his life), and Gehrig was named the team's 1st baseman.

They, Mantle and Berra were named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999, as was the newly-acquired Clemens. That same year, they, Dickey, Gomez, Ford, Jackson, Winfield and Boggs were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players.

Stuff. There are souvenir stands all over the place, and large souvenir stores on both the first-base and third-base sides of the Stadium's lower level. Essentially, if you want it, and if you can afford it, you can get it. It’s fun to look at, and to watch other people go nuts over it.

Regardless of where you shop, I don't mind if you get one of those floppy, fake-fur, star-spangled top hats that resemble the one in the Yankee logo. But, please, if you're going to buy a Yankee cap, make it a real Yankee cap: Navy blue with a white interlocking N-Y. Wearing the patriotic-holiday caps with the Stars & Stripes N-Y is fine. But the Yankees do not wear red caps, green caps, yellow caps, or, God forbid, pink caps. If you're a woman who loves the Yankees, respect them enough to get the real thing, not a pink one.

There have been more books written about the Yankees than any other team. Good books about individual Yankee seasons include Baseball in '41 by Robert Creamer (about more than just DiMaggio's streak), Summer of '49 and October 1964 by David Halberstam, Sixty-One: The Team, the Record, the Men by shortstop Tony Kubek; The Best Team Money Could Buy (1977) by Steve Jacobson; and The Bronx Zoo: The Astonishing Inside Story of the 1978 World Champion New York Yankees by pitcher Sparky Lyle.

Peter Golenbock, who assisted Lyle, Billy Martin, Ron Guidry and Graig Nettles on their memoirs, wrote Dynasty about the entire era bracketed by Halberstam's books, and Dog Days by Philip Bashe tells of the dark age between 1964 and 1976 (with those seasons included). Memoirs by Yankees, especially those written prior to Jim Bouton's 1970 Ball Four, should be taken with a grain of salt, some of them with an entire salt mine.

During the Game. Ask fans of the Mets, the Red Sox, or any of Major League Baseball's 27 other teams, what they think of Yankee Fans, and you'll get words like, "Arrogant." "Entitled." "Cocky." Jeez, pal, those are some of our strong points!

If you plan to wear opposing team gear into Yankee Stadium -- especially Red Sox or Mets -- I strongly recommend before starting out, including before ordering the tickets by mail or over the phone, that you find friends to go with you, so that you can go in numbers. At least 4. That’ll make it less likely that Yankee Fans will give you anything more than verbal abuse. Chances are, nobody will take a swing at you or push you, but the ones who might will be far less likely to go after more than one Sox or Met fan.

And the further you get from the Bleachers, the likelier it will be that you will avoid violence. The security force, including actual NYPD officers, will eject anyone who fights. If they catch them in the act, that is. The fans know this, and most will not be so drunk that they won't care about getting tossed, arrested, jailed for a night, and forced to show up in court, where they will inevitably lose their case, and get fined and publicly humiliated. The vast majority who will remain completely (or mostly) sober will care about such treatment, and will not do anything that will invite that risk. New Yorkers (and New Jerseyans) can be nasty, but most of us are not that stupid.
Chances are, that guy got kicked out.
Smoking is no longer allowed in Yankee Stadium.

Since 1969, Brooklyn-born opera singer Robert Merrill has sung the National Anthem at selected Yankee games. Occasionally, they will use his recording of it. Since 1967, the Yankee Stadium organist has been Eddie Layton, who invented "DUM dum dum dum DUM dum dum dum... " (but he was not, as many believe, the inventor of "Da da da DAT da DA... CHARGE!").

Merrill and Layton both retired due to ill health in 2003, and both died in late 2004. The Yankees still frequently use Merrill's recording of the Anthem.

Bob Sheppard became public-address announcer for the Yankees in 1951 and, when they moved to Yankee Stadium, the football Giants in 1956, and remained with the Giants through 1996. He's still there for the Yankees. The man played quarterback, and later taught speech, at St. John's University in Queens. "Your attention please, ladies and gentlemen... " would ring out through The Stadium many times a game. For a player's first at-bat, he would announce the uniform number, the name, the position, and the number again: "Number 44... Reggie Jackson... right field... Number 44." Reggie called him "the Voice of God."

Sheppard got sick late in the 2007 season, and had to retire, and died in 2010, a few weeks short of his 100th birthday. Jeter liked his introduction so much that he asked him to record one for him -- taking into account the possibility, never realized, that Jeter would one day play a position other than shortstop: "Now batting for the Yankees, Number 2, Derek Jeter, Number 2." It introduced Jeter until his retirement in 2014. Former Yankees and Cleveland Indians broadcaster Paul Olden is now the P.A. announcer.

The Yankees have a theme song, "Here Come the Yankees," introduced in 1967 as a counterpoint to "Meet the Mets." This is one area (along with food and parking) where the Mets have a clear advantage. It's still played before and after every Yankee radio broadcast. It sounds a lot better without the lyrics.

In the top of the 1st inning, out in the Bleachers, the Bleacher Creatures will begin their "Roll Call." They will chant each starting player's name or nickname until the player waves back to them. They always start with the center fielder: "Ber-NIE!" (Clap, clap!) "Ber-NIE!" (Clap, clap!) They move on to right field: "Paul-IE!" (Clap, clap!) "Paul-IE!" (Clap, clap!) Then left, then around the infield, usually to the tune of the "Let's go, Yankees!" chant: "DER-ek JE-ter! (Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!)" They will also salute broadcasters John Sterling and Michael Kay, who do the games together on WABC 770 AM radio.

Now, Sterling is on WFAN 660 AM with Suzyn Waldman, and Kay is on YES Network TV with various partners, including (depending on the night) Yankee legends David Cone and Paul O’Neill, and former Baltimore Orioles star Ken Singleton, a New York native.

The Yankees do not have a mascot. They tried one once, calling him Dandy (after the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy"). After consulting with the company that made the Phillie Phanatic's costume, the Yankees were ready to introduce Dandy late in the 1979 season. Then Munson was killed, and it was decided that Dandy, who had a big bushy mustache, looked too much like Munson (others said he more closely resembled Lyle), so he was shelved.

He was introduced at Opening Day in 1980, but the fans, for reasons that probably had nothing to do with Munson, reacted badly to him, even punching him. The guy in the suit was a college kid trying to make a few extra bucks, and his mother complained to Yankee management and making him quit. That was the end of Dandy.
Yes, Dandy actually existed.

Throughout the game, the big video boards will have tribute to various figures from the Yankees' past, with the biggest cheers reserved for videos of Mantle, Munson and Mattingly.

When the Yankees score -- any run, not just on a home run -- just after the runner crosses the plate, a very loud version of the Westminster Chimes are played. "DING-dong-DING-dong... Bomp-BOMP-bomp-BOMMMMP!" This is one of those things that Yankee Haters do, or should, find very annoying about the team.

You might hear somebody banging a spoon on a metal pan. This is Freddy Schuman. An elderly Bronx native, who lost an eye decades ago, he walked through the stands banging a spoon on a metal pan, and carrying a sign attached to the pan, with a message-of-the-day, always beginning with the words “FREDDY SEZ.” Yankee Fans were very loyal to him and protective of him. He was such a beloved figure that he was invited to ride on a float in each of the Yankees' last 5 World Championship victory parades.
Freddy with a young fan on the Subway. 
Like Steinbrenner and Sheppard, he died in 2010. He was 85.

At some point, usually between halves of the 3rd or 4th inning, the video board will do "The Great City Subway Race." This is a variation on the Milwaukee Brewers' "Sausage Race," except it's totally on the board, no people in costumes on the field. Choose which train will get to The Stadium first: B, D or 4. You don't get anything if you pick the right train, though. (The B only goes to Yankee Stadium during evening rush hours, and away from it, into Midtown Manhattan, during the morning rush, which is why I recommend taking the A to the D to get to The Stadium, or taking the 4 if you have an East Side hotel.)

After the 5th inning, the grounds crew will drag the infield. The song "YMCA" by the Village People will come in over the loudspeakers. And thousands of people, including kids, will sing along, most of them not realizing that the song is narrated by a gay man cruising for easy bait. The grounds crew will drop their rakes and drag-cages to spell out Y-M-C-A with the fans.

It’s stupid -- as Chicago White Sox fans taught us, disco sucks -- and it's not even a particularly old "Yankee Tradition," having been started in 1996. But the Yanks won the Series that year, for the 1st time in 18 years (I know, doesn't seem like a long time to most of you), since the song was new (1978), and, well, you know how superstitious baseball people can get.

It gets worse -- much worse, in terms of both physical pressure and style. If you needed any more reasons to not wear opposing team gear in the Yankee Stadium Bleachers, at this stage of the game, the Bleacher Creatures would have already found someone wearing "enemy colors," and as "YMCA" began to be played, a few of them would surround him, insuring that he couldn't get away, while the rest clapped along. They didn't touch him, so they couldn't be charged with assault, but this was true harassment, and the cops in the section didn't seem to give a damn. The Creatures made up their own words to this song, and instead of "YMCA," they sang "Why Are You Gay?"

The words are too vile to be printed here: Even though this blog occasionally includes some nasty profanities, this entry is for guests of our City and our team, and, in the interest of courtesy, I won't go that far on this occasion. (Most of the Bleacher Creatures are Irish, Italian and Hispanic, and thus Catholic, and have had it drilled into their minds from the time of puberty that being gay is a mortal sin.)

After a series of events in October 2010, before and during the Playoffs, Yankee Stadium security announced that the "Why are you gay?" song would no longer be tolerated. As far as I know, it has stopped. Sure, it was funny -- until you imagine what might have happened if the "victim" tried to fight back. And, I’m sure, a few of the fans who got this treatment might actually have been gay, and this must have been horrible for them, especially if they were still closeted. But then, if they were stupid enough to wear an opposing team's gear into that Stadium, into that section, then it's hard to sympathize with them for getting some kind of poor treatment, regardless of their orientation.

During the 7th inning stretch, a moment of silence for American troops will be, uh, requested. Then "God Bless America" will be played, usually Kate Smith's legendary 1938 recording, although sometimes there will be a live singer. Compared to that, the follow-up of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" will be relatively muted.

During the middle of the 8th inning, the Yankees do something worse than the Orioles, in their own tough, gritty, Northeastern city, do when they play John Denver’s "Thank God I’m a Country Boy." They play "Cotton Eye Joe" by Rednexx, and from the control room behind home plate, a yutz in overalls and a straw hat named Cotton Eye Joe will be shown on the video board doing a stupid dance. They periodically break away to show fans dancing along. Why this stupid song is played in New York City, of all places, I don’t know.

(Like Milwaukee's original Bernie Brewer, the original Cotton Eye Joe portrayer was fired for showing up drunk, so they got a younger guy to replace him, naming him "Cotton Eye Joey.")

In 1978, Ron Guidry set a Yankee record that still stands (and a former AL record for lefthanded pitchers) with 18 strikeouts in a game, against the California Angels. That game began the tradition of fans standing up and clapping on a two-strike pitch. It gets especially intense when it's the potential last out of the game. Met fans claim they started this tradition with Dwight Gooden in 1984, but we have the video evidence showing that, as usual, Met fans are full of baloney.

Met fans did, however, at that time, invent the "K-Korner," although Yankee Fans took it to a new level in the 1990s; but such cutesy stuff as traffic cones or ice cream cones for David Cone, beer mugs for David Wells, rockets for Roger Clemens, pictures of John "the Duke" Wayne for Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and Bullwinkles for Mike "Moose" Mussina have long since gone by the boards.

If the Yankees were winning in the 9th inning, and it's a save situation, Mariano Rivera will come out of the bullpen, and the loudspeakers will blast "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. Translation: "Game over." (Closers since Mo's 2013 retirement haven't had the same treatment.)

If the Yankees win, they will play a recording of broadcaster John Sterling giving his signature radio call: "Ballgame over! Yankees win! The-e-e-e-e-e-e… Yankees win!" If you look in the press box – you may need binoculars for this – you can see Sterling in the WFAN radio booth, doing "the Sterling Shake" when he actually says it. (At the time of that clip, the Yankees were on WCBS, 880 AM.)

Sterling also makes up some really whacked-out calls for individual players. At least, if you don't bring a radio, you won't have to hear his home run call: "It is high! It is far! It is... GONE!" Which, all too often, ends up as, "It is... a foul ball!" Or "It is... caught at the wall!" I hate it when he does that. Like Mel Allen in the Yankees' most glorious era, Sterling tends to watch the ball. Red Barber, who broadcast for the Brooklyn Dodgers at that time, and later switched to the Yankees, taught people to watch the outfielder, to see if he thinks he can catch it, so you’ll have a better idea if he can catch it. Sterling doesn't do this.

It used to be that, if the Yankees won, Frank Sinatra's version of "Theme From New York, New York" would play over the P.A. system; when they lost, they would play Liza Minnelli's version – which, everybody forgets, is the original version, coming from the movie in which Liza plays a 1940s Big Band singer and Robert DeNiro her saxophonist husband. Liza found out about being linked with losing games and objected, and the Yankee brass did something they almost never do: They caved in. After all, Liza, like the Yankees, is a New York icon, just as Sinatra was. Now, Frank's version plays, win or lose.

After the Game. Win or lose, I would advise against going to one of the bars across River Avenue from The Stadium. Forget Billy's, Stan's, the Yankee Tavern, the Yankee Eatery and the rest. Regardless of whether they won or lost, the people there do not want to see opposing fans. The best thing you can do is head for your car or the Subway (depending on how you got there), and get out as quickly and as quietly as you safely can.

If you're staying for more than just the one day, there will be plenty of time to take in a famous New York restaurant other than after the game. I would suggest staying away from really big names like the major steakhouses (Smith & Wollensky's, Gallagher's, Peter Luger's, Delmonico's, Del Frisco's, Morton's), because of the insane prices and the need for reservations. Don't bother with the 21 Club or the Russian Tea Room, next-door to Carnegie Hall: They're not only really expensive, but the food is rather ordinary.

But the legendary Carnegie Deli, so named as it's near Carnegie Hall (on 7th Avenue at 55th Street, B, D or E Train to 53rd Street) is terrific -- if you don’t mind paying 18 bucks for a sandwich. They are big sandwiches. The nearly as famous Stage Deli is a block further down 7th Avenue. And New York pushcart hot dogs and pretzels? Believe it or not, they are cheap (usually $2.00), far more sanitary than legend would suggest, and occasionally tasty. A big bargain.

The Stage Deli closed in 2012. A sandwich at the Carnegie Deli will now set you back at least $20. And a pushcart hot dog will probably be $2.50.

Sports Sidelights. If you have time to look around New York, and are interested in other baseball-related sites, read on. If not, skip to the end of this article. I won't mind, but you may be sorry you missed these:

* Shea Stadium, home of the Mets (1964-present),the Yankees (1974-75, during the Stadium's renovation), the AFL/NFL's Jets (1964-83) and the NFL's Giants (1975) is at 126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, Queens. The Beatles played there on August 15, 1965 and August 23, 1966. Almost certainly, when one team New York team is at home, the other is on the road. 
Shea Stadium in 1974 and 1975.
The Yankee logo can be seen atop the old scoreboard,
where the Met logo would usually be.

Across Roosevelt Avenue is Flushing Meadow-Corona Park, home of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, and site of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 New York World's Fairs. Take the Number 7 train to "Willets Point-Shea Stadium" station.

Citi Field was built just to the east of Shea, and opened in 2009. The station is now listed as "Mets-Willets Point."

* Site of Hilltop Park. Definitely not a place to visit at night. The Yankees' 1st home was at the highest point on Manhattan Island, hence the club's original name, the New York Highlanders, and the name of the stadium, Hilltop Park.

It wasn't much: A 14,000-seat wood and concrete structure at 165th Street & Broadway. They played there from their 1903 debut until 1912. When the Polo Grounds burned down in 1911, the Yankees let the Giants play there until a new Polo Grounds could be built. The Yankees finished 2nd at Hilltop Park in 1904, 1906 and 1910, but never won the Pennant, and only the 1904 race was especially close.
After the Yankees' 10-year lease ran out, the Giants returned the favor, and offered them a 10-year lease at the much larger, better-suited new Polo Grounds. Hilltop Park was demolished in 1914. Evangelist and former big-league pitcher Billy Sunday built a tabernacle on the site, but that was torn down to make way for Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, which opened in 1928.

In 1993, a plaque was unveiled at roughly the spot where home plate was. An honored guest was Chet "Red" Hoff, who made his major league debut with the Highlanders at Hilltop in 1911. A pitcher, the 1st batter he faced was Ty Cobb, and he struck him out. Hoff was 102 years old at the time of the dedication, and lived to be 107, the oldest former MLB player ever. A train to 168th Street.

* Site of the Polo Grounds. Also not a place to visit at night, but definitely a place to visit in daylight if you're a baseball fan. There were 2 stadiums built on the site, the first in 1890 and burned down in 1911, the second built immediately afterward and torn down in 1964. The baseball Giants played here from 1890 to 1957, the football Giants from 1925 to 1955, the Yankees from 1913 to 1922, the Mets in 1962 and '63, and the AFL’s Titans (forerunners of the Jets) from 1960 to 1963.
The Polo Grounds, as it would have looked
during the Yankees' tenure there, 1913 to 1922

It also hosted some legendary college football games, including the 1924 Army-Notre Dame game where sportswriter Grantland Rice named the Notre Dame backfield "the Four Horsemen," and the 1937 duel between Number 1 Pittsburgh and Number 2 Fordham (with Vince Lombardi playing) that ended scoreless. The Polo Grounds hosted the Army-Navy Game in 1913, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1923, 1925 and 1927.

In 1923, Luis Firpo knocked heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey out of the ring there, before Dempsey got back in and knocked Firpo out. In 1960, after Ingemar Johansson knocked Floyd Patterson out to win the title the year before at Yankee Stadium, Floyd got his revenge, knocking Ingo out to become the first man ever to regain the heavyweight title.

Of course, with very few living people who remember seeing John McGraw manage the Giants there, and possibly no one who saw Christy Mathewson pitch there, the Polo Grounds site is now best known for the 1951 Bobby Thomson home run where "The Giants win the Pennant! The Giants win the Pennant!" and the 1954 World Series catch by Willie Mays.

Now home to a housing project called Polo Grounds Towers, a plaque commemorating the ballpark is at the entrance to one of the buildings, roughly where home plate was. (If you see the plaque, you’ll notice that it calls the Giants "1904 World Champions" – and Red Sox fans may feel free to laugh, as the Giants were too chicken to play the Boston Pilgrims in that year's World Series; while the Sox don't recognize themselves as 1904 World Champions, they should.) Part of the complex is a playground named Willie Mays Field, though it's not really a "field."

157th Street & 8th Avenue (Frederick Douglass Blvd.). Take the D train to 155th Street. Right across 155th Street is Rucker Park, home of a legendary local basketball tournament.

The original Polo Grounds, where polo actually had been played, was at 110th Street and 5th Avenue, at the northeast corner of Central Park, from 1876 to 1889, until the City ordered 111th Street built through it, forcing the Giants out. Number 2 or 3 train to 110th Street.

* Site of Ebbets Field. Home of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1913 to 1957. Where the Dodgers, in their "Daffiness Boys" days of the 1930s, ended up with 3 men on base. "Yeah? Which base?" Where Jackie Robinson reintegrated the game in 1947. Where Leo Durocher argued with umpires, where Hilda Chester rang her cowbell, and where the Dodger Sym-Phony Band played their instruments, but not well.

And where Brooklynites – really, people from all over the Tri-State Area – of all races, religions and ethnicities learned about baseball and life itself, and got a million thrills, and a few heartbreaks, none worse than when the team was taken from them in the days before the launch of Sputnik. (The very night of the last game, September 24, 1957, was the night President Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne to integrate Little Rock Central High School. Ten years after Jackie, some people still didn't learn. Over half a century after that, some still haven’t learned.) There was also a Brooklyn Dodgers football team that played there from 1931 to 1944.

Now home to a housing project called Ebbets Field Apartments, it is safe to visit during daylight. Bedford Avenue & Sullivan Place, where the neighborhoods of Flatbush, Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant come together.

Take the B or Q train to Prospect Park. Walk up Flatbush Avenue, with Prospect Park on your left, turn right on Empire Boulevard, then walk 3 blocks to McKeever Place, and one more block to Sullivan Place. To your right will be the project. To your left will be a school named after Robinson. At the corner of Bedford & Sullivan will be the complex’s cornerstone, revealing it as the site of Ebbets Field.

In 2000, the Yankees hadn't yet built Richmond County Bank Ballpark for the Staten Island Yankees, who had just begun play at the College of Staten Island in 1999. The Mets had the Queens Kings in their farm system, playing at St. John's University in Jamaica, Queens until KeySpan/MCU Park could open. Both opened in 2001.

MCU Park is at 1904 Surf Avenue, at 19th Street. Take the D, F, N or Q train to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue. The Cyclone, still in operation, is at 8th & Surf, and the original Nathan's Famous hot dog stand is at Stillwell & Surf.

Richmond County Bank Ballpark. is at 75 Richmond Terrace at Hamilton Avenue. Take the R train to Whitehall Street -- Hurricane Sandy damaged the South Ferry station on the Number 1 line in 2012 and is now expected to reopen sometime in 2017 -- then cross the street to the Whitehall Terminal. The Staten Island Ferry is free, it takes 22 minutes in each direction, and you get a pretty good view of Lady Liberty. (You’re probably better off skipping a visit to Liberty Island, considering the lines and security measures. As an icon, the Statue is priceless; as a tourist attraction, it's overrated.) Then it’s a 5-minute walk from the St. George Terminal.

* Madison Square Park. This is where the game of baseball was invented. Seriously. No, it wasn't in Cooperstown, New York; and General Abner Doubleday, Civil War hero though he was, had nothing to do with it. The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club used it as their home ground, and it was here that they tested the rules they wrote.

Surveyor (which job led him to conclude that 90 feet between the bases was best) and fireman Alexander Cartwright has generally gotten credit, but Club members Daniel "Doc" Adams and William R. Wheaton were also heavily involved in writing the rules, and getting them approved at 1857 and '58 conventions that standardized the various regional versions of what was then spelled as 2 words as "base ball," that became the difference between baseball and all baseball-like games that came before it.

The Square and Park were named for James Madison, Father of the Constitution and the nation's 4th President. At the intersection of 23rd Street, 5th Avenue and Broadway. At the southern end is the Flatiron Building, which was the tallest in New York from its 1903 opening until 1909 and remains a City icon. At the northeast corner, at 26th Street and Madison Avenue, is the New York Life Building, built on the site of the first two buildings to have the name Madison Square Garden, 1879-1890 and 1891-1925. And now you know how the building got the name when its current isn't (and last previous version wasn't, either) at Madison Square.

In addition to boxing, the earlier Gardens hosted all kinds of shows, from the Westminster Kennel Club show to Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show to the 1924 Democratic Convention, taking 103 ballots -- a 2/3rds majority was needed to nominate under the rules of the time -- to nominate John W. Davis as a sacrificial lamb to Calvin Coolidge. 51 Madison Avenue at 26th Street. Take the N or R train to 23rd Street.

* Worldwide Plaza. This skyscraper, built in 1989, marks the site of the 3rd Madison Square Garden, still known as "the Old Garden" to old-timers. From 1925 to 1942, it was home to the NHL’s New York Americans; from 1926 to 1968, the NHL’s New York Rangers (sort-of named for the building’s fundraiser and owner, boxing promoter George "Tex" Rickard – "Tex’s Rangers," get it?); and from 1946 to 1968, the NBA’s New York Knickerbockers (named for Washington Irving's character Diedrich Knickerbocker, in whose voice he wrote his story collection A History of New York), or "Knicks."

The old Garden hosted what we would now call the NCAA Final Four in 1943 (Wyoming defeating Georgetown in the Final), 1944 (Utah over Dartmouth), 1945 (Oklahoma A&M, which became Oklahoma State in 1958, over New York University, despite The Garden being NYU's virtual home court), 1946 (Oklahoma State over North Carolina), 1947 (Holy Cross over Oklahoma), 1948 (Kentucky over Baylor), and 1950 (City College of New York, on its home court, completing the only NCAA/NIT double win by defeating Bradley).

It also hosted the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and a few of the early NCAA basketball tournaments, until the 1951 point-shaving scandal knocked it, the NIT, and the schools that used the Garden as a 2nd home court (NYU, CCNY, St. John's and Long Island University) off the national radar. Rickard made it the Mecca of Boxing, and Ned Irish, who promoted the legendary collegiate and pro doubleheaders and was one of the Knicks' owners, made it the Mecca of Basketball, although Red Sox fans, who are probably also Celtic fans, may disagree with that latter distinction. Neither Elvis Presley nor the Beatles ever played the old Garden.

50th Street & 8th Avenue. Take the C train to 50th Street, and on the downtown side of the station, you’ll see a marble mural depicting the old Garden.

* Madison Square Garden. This "New Garden," which opened on February 11, 1968, has been home to the Knicks, the Rangers, the NIT and (secondarily) Jamaica, Queens-based St. John's University's basketball team ever since. It's also been home to the WNBA's New York Liberty. (Except for the 2011 and '12 seasons, when the Garden's off-season renovation forced them to share the Prudential Center with the Devils and Seton Hall.) This Garden has never hosted the Final Four.

Elvis Presley played a few shows at the Garden from June 7 to 10, 1972, and the Beatles did so on their individual solo tours, most notably George Harrison for his August 1, 1971 Concert for Bangladesh (which had fellow ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, plus Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton) and John Lennon for his August 30, 1972 One-to-One Concert (with wife Yoko Ono, Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack). Other notable shows include the July 27-29, 1973 Led Zeppelin shows filmed for The Song Remains the Same, and the Bob Dylan tribute on October 16, 1992. The Democratic Convention was held here in 1976 and 1980, both times nominating Jimmy Carter; and in 1992, nominating Bill Clinton.

Since 2000, add the Concert for New York City on October 20, 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks; the Big Apple to Big Easy show after Hurricane Katrina on September 20, 2005; and the "12-12-12" concert for Hurricane Sandy relief on December 12, 2012. The Republican Convention was held here in 2004, renominating George W. Bush.

32nd Street & 7th Avenue, on top of Penn Station (much as the Boston Garden and its successor were built on top of North Station). Because it’s between 7th and 8th Avenues, just about every Subway line on the West Side comes within a block of the place.

* New Jersey. You can take New Jersey Transit's 320 bus from Port Authority to the Meadowlands Sports Complex, just off the New Jersey Turnpike's Exit 16W, at NJ-Routes 3 & 120.

The Giants have at Giants Stadium since 1976, the Jets since 1984, and Major League Soccer's New York/New Jersey MetroStars since 1996. The North American Soccer League's New York Cosmos from 1977 to 1985. The Army-Navy Game was held there in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2002. Games of the 1994 World Cup and the 1999 Women's World Cup were held there.

The New Jersey Nets and, for games too big for their 3,200-seat Walsh Gym on their South Orange campus, the Seton Hall University basketball team have played at the Continental Airlines Arena, known until 1996 as the Brendan Byrne Arena for the Governor who got it built, since it opened in 1981. The New Jersey Devils have played there since 1982. The only Final Four played in the Tri-State Area since 1950 was held here, in 1996, with Kentucky beating Syracuse in the Final.

Both NFL teams moved into MetLife Stadium in 2010. Like Giants Stadium, MetLife is also a major venue for big-act concerts and soccer. You can also take a train from Penn Station to the Meadowlands, but only on Giants or Jets game days.

The Devils and Seton Hall moved into the Prudential Center, at Broad & Lafayette Streets in downtown Newark, in 2007. The Nets played the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons there. Take NJT's Northeast Corridor Line train from New York's Penn Station to Newark's station of the same name, or the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) train from 33rd Street & 6th Avenue (Herald Square, 1 block from New York Penn Station) to Newark Penn. In spite of a bad reputation for the city in general, downtown Newark is safe. The MetroStars became the New York Red Bulls in 2006, and moved into Red Bull Arena in Harrison in 2010. PATH to Harrison.

In 2012, the Nets became the Brooklyn Nets, and moved into the Barclays Center. In October 2015, it became the home of the NHL's New York Islanders. 620 Atlantic Avenue, at Flatbush Avenue, across Atlantic from the Brooklyn Terminal of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), on the site that Walter O'Malley originally wanted for the site of the replacement for Ebbets Field, but they wouldn't let him build there. D or 4 Train to Atlantic Avenue.

The Louis Brown Athletic Center, formerly the Rutgers Athletic Center and still nicknamed the RAC, home to the Nets from 1977 to 1981, is in Piscataway, as is Rutgers Stadium. Built in 1938 for 23,000 fans, totally reconstructed in 1994 for 41,500, and expanded in 2009 for 52,454, the location has hosted 4 U.S. soccer team matches, most recently a 1995 draw against Colombia. A three-minute walk from the Stadium is the 5,000-seat Yurcak Field, RU's soccer and lacrosse facility, which is home to Sky Blue FC, the New York franchise in the National Women's Soccer League.

To get to Rutgers, take New Jersey Transit’s Northeast Corridor Line to New Brunswick, and switch to a Rutgers "Campus Bus," the A to the Busch Campus to the stadium, the L to the Livingston Campus to the RAC, or the B between them.

* Long Island. The Nassau County Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been home to the NHL's Islanders since their 1972 inception, and the ABA edition of the New York Nets from 1971 to 1977. It is a pain in several body parts to get to. Take the LIRR's Hempstead Branch all the way to the end. Across the street is a bus station. Take the N70, N71 or N72 bus (N for Nassau), and it’s a 10-minute ride down the Jericho Turnpike to Uniondale.

As I said, the Isles moved to Brooklyn in 2015.

Adjacent is Hofstra University, including its 15,000-seat James M. Shuart Stadium and the former Jets offices and training complex, Weeb Ewbank Hall. Shuart Stadium was the home field of the Cosmos from 1972 to 1974.

The new Cosmos, in the new NASL, use Shuart Stadium, but Hofstra no longer has a football team.

While Connecticut has some minor-league sports teams, it no longer has any major league teams in any sport. The Giants played at the Yale Bowl in New Haven in 1973 and 1974, and the Hartford Whalers played at the Hartford Civic Center from 1975 to 1978, when a collapsed roof forced them to move to nearby Springfield, Massachusetts, and again from 1980 to 1997, when they moved to become the Carolina Hurricanes.

Non-Sports Sidelights. If you're looking for a good time to visit New York other than during baseball season, I would recommend the week before Christmas. Yes, it is likely to be cold, but the City never looks better than in the walk down 5th Avenue from 59th Street (Central Park, Plaza Hotel, and, until last year, the now-closed legendary toy store FAO Schwarz), past the Trump Tower (57th), St. Patrick's Cathedral (51st), Rockefeller Center (49th), the main library (42nd) on down to 34th (the Empire State Building). Along the way, you'll pass other legendary stores, including Tiffany and Lord & Taylor, although B. Altman's is long gone.

Do not visit Times Square on New Year's Eve. I cannot emphasize this enough. The Square will be packed before dark. If you don't get there before dark, you won't get anywhere near it. And if you do get there before dark, you'll be stuck there for hours, until the crowd finally thins out a few minutes after midnight. I was once there at about 2:00 in the afternoon on a December 31, and it was already a zoo. Don't do it!

Also, don't visit on March 17 to see the St. Patrick's Day Parade, unless you like very raucous behavior by people who aren't the least bit Irish and are using the holiday as an excuse to get as drunk as they think the stereotypical Irishman is.

I would advise against seeing a Broadway show: Tickets are expensive, hard to get, and most of the shows aren't really worth it.

The Ed Sullivan Theater, previously known as CBS Studio 50, was the site for The Ed Sullivan Show from 1948 to 1971. Elvis appeared there on September 9 and October 28, 1956, and, with the CBS cameras showing him from the waist up only, on January 6, 1957. The Beatles played there on February 9, 1964 -- where a since-broken U.S. TV record of 73 million people watched -- and September 12, 1965. CBS now broadcasts The Late Show with David Letterman from there. 1697 Broadway at 54th Street; B, D or E train to 7th Avenue.

Also well worth a visit: The Empire State Building (34th Street & 5th Avenue, D Train to 34th Street), Grand Central Terminal (42nd Street & Park Avenue, Number 4 Train to 42nd Street or Number 7 Train to Grand Central), the American Museum of Natural History (81st Street & Central Park West, C Train to 81st Street), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (82nd Street & 5th Avenue, Number 4 Train to 86th Street & walk 10 minutes), the Intrepid Museum (the World War II-era aircraft carrier is at Pier 86, 46th Street & 12th Avenue, and includes several aircraft, including the prototype space shuttle Enterprise), and the South Street Seaport (Fulton & Front Streets, A Train to Broadway-Nassau).

Presidential Sites. Theodore Roosevelt is the only President to have been born in New York City. The townhouse where he was born was demolished in 1916, while he was still alive. After his death in 1919, it was rebuilt, and serves as a museum in his honor. However, it is closed for renovations, with its website saying it will reopen in "late summer." 28 East 20th Street, between Park Avenue & Broadway.

His home on Long Island, Sagamore Hill. There's also a visitors' center and museum on the site that, for all intents and purposes, serves as TR's "Presidential Library" (since most people who visit Presidential Libraries see only the museum and, if there is one there, the house, and don't actually go into the library to view documents). 20 Sagamore Hill Road, Oyster Bay. LIRR to Oyster Bay, and then take a taxi. I've walked the 3 miles from the station to the house, and I don't recommend it: The roads are narrow and twisty, and Cove Neck Road and Sagamore Hill Road have nasty hills.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, TR's cousin, and his wife Eleanor (TR's niece) had an apartment at 125 East 36th Street (6 to 33rd Street), and another at 49 East 65th Street off Park (F to Lexington Avenue/63rd Street). But their best-known home was FDR's birthplace in Hyde Park, in Dutchess County, where he put his Presidential Library.

4079 Albany Post Road, and if you're familiar with U.S. Route 9 in Jersey or as upper Broadway in Manhattan and The Bronx, or as the George Washington Bridge between them, it is very hard to believe it is (at least officially) the same road. It's 86 miles from Midtown Manhattan, and is actually closer to Albany. If you can't drive there, you'll have to take Metro-North from Grand Central to Poughkeepsie and then get a taxi for the last 4 miles. (It's not as hard a walk as from Oyster Bay to Sagamore Hill, but it is longer.)

As New York was the nation's 1st capital after ratification of the Constitution (but only very briefly before it moved back to Philadelphia and then to Washington), some of our early Presidents lived there, but none of their homes, or even the "Capitol," remain. Federal Hall, where George Washington was sworn in as the 1st President on April 30, 1789, was demolished in 1812 and rebuilt as a Customs House in 1842, and is now a National Park site. 26 Wall Street at Broad Street, on the opposite corner from the New York Stock Exchange. (4 or 5 to Wall Street.)

"The first White House," if you want to call it that, where Washington lived while New York was the capital, was at 3 Cherry Street, off Catherine Street, on what's now the Lower East Side, between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. There's a plaque on the building that's there now. F to East Broadway, then a 7-block walk down Rutgers and Cherry Streets.

I don't know where John Adams, James Madison and James Monroe were living at the time, but there's a plaque at the site of Thomas Jefferson's residence, at 57 Maiden Lane, between Nassau and William Streets, across from the Federal Reserve Bank. (Jefferson would have hated that irony.) A to Fulton Street.

Ulysses S. Grant and Grover Cleveland both had post-Presidency homes in Manhattan: Grant at 3 East 66th Street, off 5th Avenue; Cleveland (between his nonconsecutive terms) a short walk away at 816 Madison Avenue, off 69th Street. 6 to 68th Street-Hunter College.

Keep in mind: These addresses, and those of the filming locations for the TV shows I'm about to mention, are private residences. Do not attempt to enter; leave the people living there alone.

No one is "buried in Grant's Tomb": While the vault where the coffins of Ulysses & Julia Grant are held is underground, by definition, no one is buried in a tomb. What is officially called General Grant National Memorial is on Riverside Drive at 122nd Street. (1 to 125th Street.)

Cleveland, like Woodrow Wilson, lived in Princeton, New Jersey -- in Cleveland's case, after his 2nd term. However, Cleveland's house, at 15 Hodge Road off Bayard Lane; Wilson's houses, at 72 and 82 Library Place, off Stockton Street; and Albert Einstein's house, at 112 Mercer Street, off Edgehill Street, are all privately owned and not available for tours. Madison, like Wilson, was a Princeton graduate, but I don't know where he lived in town. NJ Transit Northeast Corridor Line to Princeton Junction, then transfer to a shuttle train to Princeton; or, from Port Authority Bus Terminal, take a Coach USA bus to the end of the line at Princeton's Palmer Square. The house where Cleveland was born, at 207 Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell, is open for tours. NJ Transit 29 bus from Newark.

For the 3rd Presidential Debate in 1960, on October 13 -- a few hours after the Yankees lost the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates on the Bill Mazeroski home run -- a one-time-only split-screen format was used: Richard Nixon was at the ABC studio in Los Angeles, and John F. Kennedy was at the ABC studio in New York. For the 4th and final debate -- the only time there's been 4 debates in the general election campaign -- on October 21, just 18 days before the election, both men were at the ABC studio in New York, the old one at the St. Nicholas Arena.

* TV Shows set in New York. As I'm sure you've noticed, there have been so many. On I Love Lucy, the Ricardos and the Mertzes lived at 623 East 68th Street, but this address does not exist in real life; New York Presbyterian Hospital occupies where the location would be, off York Avenue.

The Odd Couple building, home to Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, is not only a real address, but the building is still recognizable from the opening credits sequence over 40 years later: 1049 Park Avenue at 87th Street (4 train to 86th Street). Not far away, at 185 East 85th Street at 3rd Avenue, is the building that stood in, in the opening credits of The Jeffersons, for George and Weezy's "Dee-luxe apartment in the sky."

As characters introduced in All in the Family, the Jeffersons previously lived in Queens, next-door to the Bunkers, and Mike and Gloria moved into their house when they moved. Archie and Edith lived at 704 Hauser Street, which was supposedly in Flushing, but the house shown in the show's opening is in the Glendale section of the Borough, at 89-70 Cooper Avenue. All Queens addresses have that hyphenated format. If you live in a city with a 100-block system, where there is a "zero point" and the next block over is 100, the next 200, and so on, think of this address as 8970. But without a car, you'll need to take the E train to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue, or the 7 train to 74th Street-Broadway (same station), and then take the Q53 bus.

Sesame Street is set in New York City, and while no specific location has ever been given, the brownstone's address is 123 Sesame Street. Show creator Joan Ganz Cooney said she originally wanted to call the show 123 Avenue B -- appropriate, since that part of the Lower East Side, because of Avenues A, B, C & D, is nicknamed "Alphabet City." But since the real Alphabet City was already descending into a crime-and-drug-ridden hellhole, from which it began to escape in the 1990s, giving that actual location might lead people to want to actually visit, which was considered a bad idea.

This was also a problem on The Honeymooners: Jackie Gleason had grown up at 358 Chauncey Street in Brooklyn, and gave the address for the building that housed the Kramdens and the Nortons as 328 Chauncey, which does exist, off Howard Avenue -- and not far from Ralph Avenue (C train to Ralph Avenue station), from which Gleason probably got Kramden's first name. I visited in 1991, at the depth of New York's crime wave, and the building -- in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, not in nearby Bensonhurst as was frequently claimed on the show -- was the only one on the block that wasn't a pathetic, graffiti-ridden mess. It was probably cleaned up by devoted Honeymoonies. These days, the area is probably safe in daylight, but please don't go there at night.

Welcome Back, Kotter, which aired on ABC in the late 1970s, was set at James Buchanan High School in Brooklyn. Head of the Class, an ABC show of the late 1980s, was also set in Brooklyn, at Millard Fillmore High School. While lots of New York public high schools are named after Presidents, Fillmore and Buchanan are not among them in real life. Gabe Kaplan, who played Gabe Kotter, had patterned his show after his own life: Before going into comedy, he had attended and taught at New Utrecht High School, whose exterior was used as an opening and closing credits stand-in for Buchanan. I can't prove it, but I think the same school stood in for Fillmore. 1601 80th Street in Dyker Heights (D to 79th Street).

On The Cosby Show, the Huxtables were said to live at 10 Stigwood Avenue in Brooklyn Heights, but this address is not real. The actual townhouse used for the exterior shots is in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, at 10 St. Luke's Place, off 7th Avenue South (1, Houston Street).

On Sex & the City, Carrie Bradshaw supposedly lives at 245 East 73rd Street, but the actual building shown is at 66 Perry Street, off West 4th in the Village. (1 to Christopher Street-Sheridan Square).

On Seinfeld, Jerry and Kramer lived at 129 West 81st Street, off Columbus Avenue (what 9th Avenue is called north of 59th). Jerry actually did live in that building when he started out in comedy. C train to 81st Street. Paul Buchman of Mad About You said he also lived there before moving in with his eventual wife Jamie Stemple, to 51 5th Avenue off 12th Street. Any train that gets to Union Square (4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R). Tom's Restaurant (or Tom's Diner, as Suzanne Vega would call it) stood in for Jerry & George's hangout Monk's Cafe, at 2880 Broadway at 112th Street, off the Columbia University campus. C to 110th Street.

The NYPD's 9th Precinct is housed at 321 East 5th Street, off 2nd Avenue. F to 2nd Avenue. (Don't bother the cops going in and out of this building. They wouldn't like it.) The exterior of this building has stood in for the 15th on NYPD Blue. The 1975-82 sitcom Barney Miller was set at the fictional 12th Precinct, but the exterior of their building was never shown.

In contrast, Cagney & Lacey was set at the 14th Precinct, which, like NYPD Blue's, 15th, was said to be in Alphabet City. (While Manhattan only goes to an Avenue D, Brooklyn does the whole alphabet, Avenue A to Avenue Z.) But the 14th is real, albeit better known as Midtown South. That's at 357 West 35th Street, off 9th Avenue, in Hell's Kitchen. (Despite the name, this neighborhood, home to the notorious Irish gang The Westies, is a lot better off than it was.)

The building shown as the home of the Friends is at 90 Bedford Street at Grove Street. (Monica once gave the address as 425 Grove Street, but that address only exists in Brooklyn.) There's no Central Perk on the ground floor (or a similar coffee bar nearby), but there is a French restaurant called The Little Owl. 1 train to Christopher Street-Sheridan Square.

Some other shows were set near but outside The City. While the workplace scenes on The Dick Van Dyke Show were set in Manhattan, Rob & Laura Petrie lived in New Rochelle in Westchester County. Also living in Westchester were Maude & Walter Findlay, in Tuckahoe; and Mrs. Garrett and the Eastland girls of The Facts of Life in Peekskill.

BewitchedWho's the Boss and Gilmore Girls were set in Connecticut, although only Bewitched was specified, in Westport. Growing Pains and Everybody Loves Raymond were set on Long Island: The former, never specified, but the houses shown are in Merrick; the latter, Lynbrook.

As for New Jersey: Charles in Charge was set in New Brunswick (with the fictional Copeland College standing in for Rutgers), and The Sopranos in various places in Essex, Hudson and Bergen Counties.


If you follow these directions, you should be able to attend a game at the new Yankee Stadium, and even do other things in New York City, and be able to go home without getting hurt.

Who knows, you may even win. Maybe.

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