And we’re off . . .
- Richard Sandomir of the Times has an interesting article on the history of the unique frieze atop Yankee Stadium:
. . . Marty Appel, the Yankees’ assistant public relations director in the early ’70s, said that Michael Burke, who ran the Yankees for CBS and served briefly under Steinbrenner, “got huffy” when he saw there was no frieze in the renovation plans but knew the new upper deck could not accommodate it. So it went into the outfield.
“The design was in place by the time George bought the team,” Appel said.
As if to atone for past sins, the Yankees have recreated the look of the original frieze in their $1.5 billion stadium that is meant to evoke the ’23 design. The first was made of copper — although the Osborn blueprint calls it Toncan metal, which suggests a copper-iron alloy — but the new one is steel coated with zinc to protect it from rusting and two layers of white paint. . . .
The new version looks very much like the old one, although its details are less intricately drawn than Osborn’s original. It is made of 38 connected panels, all 11 feet deep, 12 feet high and most of them 40 feet long. With the columns between each panel, the frieze weighs 315 tons.
- Mr. Sandomir also pens an article on how the protective netting in back of the plate may interfere with your TV viewing pleasure:
The problem at the new Yankee Stadium is that for all the team’s rigid devotion to recreating the old ballpark’s dimensions, it reduced by 20 feet the distance from home plate to the backstop, to 52 feet 4 inches. . . . By pushing the seating outward, it caused the protective netting to be taller and wider than it was at the old stadium.
(But) the Yankee Stadium angle is the most nettlesome one, which may force YES (or ESPN or Fox) to minimize their use of the camera position, no matter how important.
During the exhibition game at the stadium against the Cubs on April 4, the supporting wires and netting formed a fishnet shroud over the camera shot. It’s not as bad a view as the one spectators will get from the bleacher seats flanking the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar and bleacher cafe, but it is nonetheless a jolting shift from the unimpeded shot in the old stadium.
- The Times’ Joe LaPointe profiles Yogi Berra, and his clout at the park:
On his visits to the old Yankee Stadium last season, Yogi Berra brought along a little jar to collect peculiar souvenirs.
“I’ve got the dirt,” Berra said of his soil samples from the basepaths and the pitching mound. But he is still seeking a larger prize. “I told them I’d like to have the home plate,” Berra said. “They said, ‘Well, maybe.’ ”
Berra will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Thursday afternoon to open the new Yankee Stadium. Randy Levine, the team president, was asked if Berra could have one of the old plates, behind which he worked so well for so long.
“Absolutely,” Levine said Wednesday. “We try and accommodate Yogi. Whatever Yogi wants, we try and give to Yogi. This is the first I’m hearing about it. But we’ll do everything we can. Yogi’s so important to the Yankees.”
- Tyler Kepner has all the minutiae on the Opening Day events at the stadium:
The team also announced that Kelly Clarkson will sing the national anthem, a selection that should be popular with Derek Jeter, a confessed “American Idol” addict. Pre-game ceremonies will begin at 12:10 p.m. with the West Point Marching Band performing John Philip Sousa’s “Washington Post March” and “Stars and Stripes Forever”. Those choices are meaningful: before the original Yankee Stadium’s opener on April 18, 1923, Sousa performed on field with the Seventh Regiment Band.
The home plate and pitching rubber to be used Thursday is the same set that closed out the old Yankee Stadium last September. When the game is over, the plate and the rubber will be moved to the Yankees Museum, located in the ballpark.
- The Yankees are hit with a lawsuit, over using the facilities during “God Bless America”:
A baseball fan says he was ejected from Yankee Stadium for leaving his seat to use the bathroom while “God Bless America” played.
Bradford Campeau-Laurion filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against New York City and the Yankees.
The lawsuit contends he was made a victim of political and religious discrimination on Aug. 26.
It says two police officers who ejected him were enforcing a Yankees policy that keeps spectators in their seats during the song.
[My take: What about his right to "freedom of assembly" in front of a urinal?]
- There is a LOT of photography on the walls of the new Stadium:
When the Yankees play their first game in the new stadium Thursday, they may be upstaged by some players who aren’t currently on the roster: Joe DiMaggio in a zoot suit, Babe Ruth asleep in a laundry cart, Mickey Mantle flirting with a nurse and a throng of girls clad in 1930s-style bathing suits parading past the dugout.
Art broker Tracie Speca has been working 16-hour days for the past six weeks to install 1,300 vintage photographs worth a total of at least $5 million in the stadium’s clubs, hallways and restaurants. . . . Ms. Speca sorted through 60,000 images from the Daily News and sourced additional images from MLB, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Library of Congress.
- Here’s a slideshow of some of those photos.
- Don’t look for the Yanks to lower ticket prices this season just yet:
(Randy Levine) noted – as (Hal) Steinbrenner did – that the pricing controversy centers on a relatively small number of hugely expensive seats.
“I think the amount of seats we’re talking about, so there’s no misunderstanding here, is maybe 150 to 200 seats,” he said. “We continue to look at it. This is a marketplace-driven system.
“We’ve done extraordinarily well in all of the premium seats, over 80 percent. I believe the stadium will be sold out [tomorrow]. I think we’re doing great. We’re sensitive to the economy. We’ve taken steps to be sensitive to the economy, letting people stretch payment plans and things along those lines.
“And seats are moving. As I’ve said before, they may not be moving as quickly as they have in years past. I think that’s the effect. But they are moving.”
Might the Yankees consider reducing prices, now or perhaps for next season?
“We’ll see,” he said. “Like any business, that’s what Hal was talking about, we’ll see. Right now, the fans are buying the seats. Maybe not as quickly as they did in years past, but they’re buying it.
“If next week we decide to do something, we’ll do it. If two years from now we decide to do it, we’ll do it. Standing here today there are no plans to do anything. But we look at this every single day. “
[My take: Would the Yanks have had to flood the airwaves with those "Seats Between the Bases" ads had the economy not been in such a freefall? Perhaps . . . but they certainly don't help their cause by more than tripling the price of those seats from only a couple of years ago. I suspect that this particular Stadium's "Honeymoon Effect" will be much shorter than other parks, given the average ticket price and the overall economy. Can the Yanks make enough money from the rest of the park if they don't sell those "premium seats"?]
- Here is part of an ESPN Insider blog piece about the 1994 signing of former Yankee D’Angelo Jiminez:
In 1994, a 16-year-old infielder named D’Angelo Jimenez signed a $25,000 contract with the New York Yankees that forever changed how teams and players approached negotiations. Up until then, the best players in Latin America had signed mostly in the $2,000-$5,000 range. Special players would get $10,000. . . .
“In reality, he was the first [Latin] bonus baby,” Yankees Latin American field coordinator Victor Mata said of Jimenez.
“I won’t lie; I was surprised at how much we gave him,” Mata said. “I think we changed the whole panorama. When we signed D’Angelo that made a big splash with all the prospects.”
- On this date in 1929, the Yankees become the first team in major league baseball to permanently feature numbers on the backs of their uniforms. The numbers correspond to each player’s position in the batting order.
- On this date in 1961, Roger Maris connects for his first of his 61 homers that year (in the 12th game of the season). The fifth-inning solo shot is off Tigers pitcher Paul Foytack.