Friday, July 01, 2005

A View from the Bleachers

A View from the Bleachers
July 2001

Watching baseball in New York is an exciting experience, whether you take the #4 or the #7 to the stadium. I'm a new fan to the game and I had the opportunity to go to my first Yankee game this year.

The Yankees were playing the first place Mariners to a sold-out stadium. Which is why, of course, I was sitting waaaaaay out in the left field bleachers. That's right. I was a bleacher creature. A bleacher bumb. It was okay I thought, since I was at Yankee Stadium - the house that Ruth built. But as I sat in my seat, desperately trying to locate home plate with my better than 20/20 vision, I thought that even the great Ruth wouldn't have lasted very long out there. Pinstripes or no pinstripes. It is far.

The left-center field bleachers are beyond Monument Park and beyond the Yankee bullpen. Thanks to Mayor Rudy, it is alcohol-free seating and, apparently, hot dog vendor-free, as well. Which was unfortunate because I was hungry! No problem, I thought, I'll just go get one at one of the many (two) vending booths behind the seats. As I made my way over to the aisle, I overheard a man say, "Fourth inning!?!?!?! I left in the second!" I sat back down. I convinced myself I wasn't that hungry. I'll just get something later when I walk around to check out the stadium. But apparently, you can't just walk around the stadium from the bleacher seats. Nope, you're locked in. No beer. No hot dog vendors. No sneaking into the good seats. It was baseball jail.

But at least we had the bullpen. The fellow bleacher creatures and I were happy to see Mariano Rivera very up close and personal. And you can actually hear that phone ring when the call comes in from the dugout. It was like the bat-phone. Phone rings. Pitcher warms up. Pitcher runs through secret door to the field. Cool. And he was close enough to say "hi" to, which many people did and he, politely, smiled and waved back.

It was from the Yankee Stadium bleachers that I saw my first live homerun. And my second. And my third. After a while, it became kind of expected. "Oh, look, (yawn) here comes another one." Come to think of it, no one seemed overly excited about the homeruns. Maybe it's because they've seen so many from those world champion Yankees. Maybe it's because there is no chance that you could catch one out there. They would have to hit it like 450 feet and have hurricane force winds behind it to reach our seats. Homerun, shmomerun.

So we couldn't eat. Couldn't drink. Couldn't catch homerun balls. Couldn't really see the game all that well. But we could cheer and cheer we did.

They have some serious fans up there in the Bronx bleachers. They had chants and signs and "K’s" all in a row. And, most importantly, they had waves. I thought I had seen some advanced wave-making in my time, but these guys ranked right up there. Sure, they had wave-makers. But they had wave-blockers. That's right - blockers. It was like a giant physics experiment out there!

The wave starts in left field bleachers, comes around to left-center, magically crosses the seatless center-field area and then BAM, hits the "wave-blockers" in right-center bleachers. These are guys dedicated to blocking all well-intentioned waves from ever reaching the right field bleachers.

"How," you ask. They stand, facing the wave-makers with arms sturdily crossed in front of them and refuse to do the wave, thereby blocking it from the rest of the right field bleacher creatures. Wave-blockers. They got ‘em in the Bronx. They blocked and we booed. You gotta do something to keep busy out there in the bleachers.

They have dedicated fans of all ages out there. Little kids knew more about baseball than, well, me, for one. They knew the names of all the players, for one thing. Which was critical for me, the uninformed, since, as I'm sure you know, Yankees don't have their names on their uniforms like the rest of the baseball world. "You should just know," my lifetime Yankee fan friend, Brian, enlightened me. Know your phone number. Know your anniversary date. Know the Yankees uniform numbers and names. I couldn't see anyway, so it didn't matter if I didn't know who was batting. He had pinstripes, which meant that he was destined to be on base at any minute and that was all that mattered.

These kids knew that. They were professional fans. They even knew which pitchers to use in which situations. They knew, before the bat-phone ever rang, that Mariano was going to warm-up (apparently he's a "closer" and pitches at the "end" of the game). They were lined up to take pictures way before he got out of his perch overlooking the outfield.

They knew when the grounds-crew was scheduled to appear for their nightly YMCA infield raking show, practicing their human "Y’s" and "M’s" long before the crew came to the field. That grounds-crew show brought more cheers from the bleachers than all three homeruns put together.

I guess it's all in how you look at it. And from the bleacher seats, maybe it's all in how you don't.


At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Norcalfella said...

Let me be the first to leave words here. I thought this was a very enjoyable description of your visit to Yankee Stadium. If this is any indication, I am hungry.

When I visited NYC unfortunately they were out of town so I settled on Shea Stadium and later Veterans Stadium (R.I.P.). If George follows through with the madness of actually building a new stadium I will check into flights immediately.

At 6:11 PM, Blogger CarolynVB said...

Thanks, norcal!

Well, the Mets are going to get a new stadium, too, if that interests you at all. They've already begun construction in one part of the existing parking lot.

Either way, if you come east, I'll volunteer to be your NY tour guide.

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Norcalfella said...

I just watched the virtual tour, and I'm passing it along to my sister-in-law who is a big Met fan. Wow! Love the way the concourses allow fans to watch the action while getting food.

Didn't see an apple rising out of the outfield, which would be a nice nod to Shea.

Gives me a bit of pause to see an elevator used for reaching seats. Yes, the Oakland Coliseum is in the dark ages.

Likewise if you hit the East Bay.


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