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Big Ballpark Review: New York's Yankee Stadium

Big League Stew

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Finally, after a two-week hiatus for the All-Star break, we're back. And since there are incredibly only 28 games left to be played at The House That Ruth Built, I thought we'd better get to The Bronx rather quickly — even though I just left.

But since I've only been to the Stadium a grand total of three (3) times, I'm going to let a passage from Bronx Banter's Alex Belth serve as the lead-in. It's from the great piece he wrote for SI.com last Tuesday, and the article about conflicted feelings and loving something in spite of its faults are probably one of the best baseball writings I'll read all year:

The list of complaints is sizable: the ridiculous ticket prices, the lousy concessions (how can pretzels not be warmed-up by the third inning?), the appalling conditions of the bathrooms, the cramped alleyways and the obnoxious, well-heeled, suburban kids yelling "Farm-ing-Dale" into their cell phones. It brings to mind the joke about the two old ladies at a Catskills Resort that Woody Allen told in Annie Hall:

"Boy, the food at this place is really terrible," says one.

"Yeah, I know, and such small portions."

That's also how I feel about Yankee Stadium, a tourist attraction that is a throwback to the rough old days of New York, when the city didn't care about you.

See it before it's gone, folks!

For an insider's look at visiting Yankee Stadium, follow the jump. To submit tips on your home ballpark, e-mail 'Duk at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com. Up next: Dodger Stadium

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Facts and figures (More at Ballparks.com)

Address: 880 River Avenue, Bronx, NY 10451 — (718) 293-4300

Opened: 1923

Capacity: 57,545

Cost: $2.5 million

Dimensions:Left field: 318; deepest left-center: 399; center field: 408; deepest right-center: 385; right field 314; backstop: 84

Biggest moment: Yankee Stadium I — On Oct. 8, 1956, Don Larsen throws first and only perfect game in World Series history.

Yankee Stadium II — On Oct. 18, 1977, Reggie Jackson hits three home runs in Game 6 of the World Series.

Fun fact: Babe Ruth hit the first home run in the "House That Ruth Built"

Resources

Buy tickets ($14-$400) • Seating chartStadium infoNYC Visit.com

How to get there

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"Never drive there if you can help it. This is rookie stuff. Everyone knows the traffic will kill you. The best way to do it is to catch a subway from Manhattan, either the B, D (west side) or the 4 (east side). You can get B, D from Penn Station or the 4 from Grand Central. This is by far best way to do it. Saves enormous time (I clocked it at 17 minutes from the stadium to my place on the Upper West Side of Manhattan), they can't gouge you for parking and you can drink beers without fear. You also get a chance at NYC night life after the ball game." — Frank Murtha

"Getting there by car is extremely easy. Just drive on the Major Deegan Expressway until you see the Stadium. If you are going southbound, hit exit 6 and the off-ramp will fork, leading you to either left to parking on the Harlem River or right to the main parking garage. It's $17 either way ... The parking garage is about 30 feet from the Stadium, but if you get stuck on the roof and the game holds most in attendance to the end, you won't move for a while." — Jeff Snowman

"Driving and parking in the area shows that you have a death wish." — Ben Silverman

Before and after the game

"As you are not allowed to use a grill in the garage, the riverside parking is the place for tailgating. The walk is a bit of a journey, but it's a journey that used to be my favorite approach. Unfortunately, the construction of the new Metro North station has made a mess of the area and had replaced half of my beloved tunnel over the tracks with a makeshift steel and plywood structure. This construction has also affected the exit and the only way out will take you onto the Deegan southbound." — J.S.

"Make sure you get in early enough to visit Monument Park (closes 45 minutes before game). The small outdoor museum is a testament to the depth of Yankee legend and lore. Of course, there's nothing like walking out of the tunnels behind home plate and just taking it all in." - J.S.
"A lot of people will say go to Stan's. It's an institution, there is lots of memorabilia, but it's a zoo. Go there EARLY. It will become too crowded prior to game. Ball Park Lanes has cheap beer, good food and there is much more space, so that Vinnie doesn't sweat all over you." — F.M.

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"One block from the north-end of the stadium, Yankee Tavern is typically packed before the game, so get there early. Beers are reasonably priced and there's a full menu of bar fare that's cheaper and better than anything in the Stadium. For an even cheaper drinking solution, go the bodega (convenience store) across the street. You can buy a beer and either sit inside or stand outside and drink it without paying any type of premium. Avoid all of the bars/restaurants directly across the street from the stadium on River Ave. They're loud, crowded and expensive. Remember, the beauty of New York is that you're 15 minutes away from everything, so don't be afraid to pre- or post-load away from the stadium." — B.S.

"Before the game, go to The Press Cafe on E. 157th St. between River and Gerard Aves. The patrons here have teeth and they seem to wash, but the nice staff, ice cold Stella drafts, and good panini are the real top reasons to go. (By the way, you really should eat before entering Yankee Stadium because it is not a food destination and there are no specialties worth mentioning in polite company.) If you want to enjoy some bevs after the game, go to a local bar in any real neighborhood in NYC. The Yankee Stadium area bars shut down real fast and the post-game crowds look like something central casting came up with for the next George Romero "Dead" movie." — David Coffey

"My favorite things to do when visitors come to town include walking across the Brooklyn Bridge; spending a day in Central Park walking around; spending hours staring at the Chrysler Building; taking people out to Queens for great, cheap, ethnic food; taking a trip to and from on the Staten Island Ferry (it's free!) and checking out The Museum of the City of New York or The New York Historical Society." — B.S.

What to eat

"The specialty food is probably the Premio Italian sausages. The smell of the sausage and peppers is intoxicating and they are quite tasty and filling. The cheese fries and chicken fingers are good as well, as are the egg rolls at the Chinese restaurant in the food court." — J.S.

"Concessions are a weak point. Stick to hot dogs and Italian sausages. Pizza is New York pizza so it is of better quality than the crap at most ball parks. If you want a hot pretzel get it before the game, while they're nice and hot. They're often cold later in the game, but this doesn't deter the pretzel guy from selling it to you." — F.M.

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"If you do choose to go to spend multiple innings on a trip to the Food Court, you are not really a baseball fan, so go to a better venue for dining like Chinatown or 9th Avenue in Manhattan, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, or Jackson Ave. in Queens. And don't ever waste money on a seat in the waiter service section either, because during high attendance games (every game) you often cannot get service because of the backlog and the wait staff isn't attractive or charming enough to make up for it." — D.C.

"I wouldn't touch the food in Yankee Stadium. The food is overpriced, even for a sports venue and undercooked. Do yourself a favor and sneak in a sandwich from somewhere outside of the stadium." — B.S.

Where to sit

"If you want to get the full ballpark experience, anywhere on the bottom and top deck is good. Just don't get too high or too far down the lines in the upper deck. It's steep up there and can be quite a hike if you're too far up, and you begin losing your view of the walls, Diamondvision, and scoreboards as you go farther down the lines. " — J.S.

"If you want the ultimate fan experience, then you absolutely have to sit in the right field bleachers, towards the front or middle of Section 39. This is the home of the famous Bleacher Creatures, which will provide nearly as much entertainment as the game. While the Creatures' reputation may be intimidating to someone who hasn't been, just wear a Yankee hat and a smile and you'll be fine ... The caveat to sitting here is that you'll be cut off from the rest of the Stadium, including Monument Park. There is also no sale whatsoever of alcohol." — J.S.

"The bleachers CLOSEST TO RIGHT FIELD LINE are where the mega fans sit. They have a cowbell, a series of chants and taunts ... it's a subculture, really. These seats are for the die hards, but they're not for the faint of heart. It's important to sit close to right in the bleachers because it is the nerve center of the fans. If you sit too far towards left, you get the bleacher cretins without the charm." — F.M.

"My favorite place to sit is low in the upper deck (mezzanine) or the front row of the second deck (loge). You really get a bird's eye view and you're surprisingly close to the action — not like most parks." — F.M.

"Front rows of the Loge level are best in the summer to keep the sun off of you and in the spring/fall to keep the rain off. I like the first couple of rows of the upper deck behind home plate, just avoid the first row because the rail gets in the way. Bleachers are for hardcore fans only and I would not bring a child into them. Upper deck beyond the infield or front section is fine if you don't mind sitting in New Jersey." — B.S.

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Misc.

"I actually hate Yankee Stadium because it's rundown (won't have to worry about that next year) and the fans, outside of the lower seating bowl, are jerks. I don't buy into the mystique of the stadium considering it was basically rebuilt in the mid-'70s and stripped of a lot of its character. Hardcore Yankees fans obviously feel differently." — B.S.

"Look out for Freddy (left), who will walk through the stands with a sign and a pot for fans (often little kids) to tap on in support for the Yanks." — J.S.

"The thing that makes Yankee Stadium special to ball park connoisseurs is its remarkable upper deck. There is simply NOTHING like this left in baseball. It is HUGE and you need to be a mountain goat to walk to your seat. When you're up there, look around. It is massive and its impossibly-angled seating section holds what seems like a million people. It also shakes (literally rocks) when full and the fans are excited. I can vouch for this on a number of occasions, including Jeter and Tino hitting homers off Kim in the World Series in 2001. The new Stadium shamefully will not recreate it." — F.M.

Have an insider's tip for Yankee Stadium that you didn't see listed here? E-mail it with your name and hometown to 'Duk at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com for possible inclusion in the post.

Big League Stew's Big Ballpark Review will run all summer, will feature all 30 MLB ballparks and is based on recommendations from you, the reader. We welcome reviews for any ballpark. To do so, visit this post for submission guidelines.

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