...the one in which I squeeeeeeee.....!!!!!
I love baseball.
I really do.
In fact, my very first dream of a future career - when I was a kid - was to be the first woman to play professional baseball in the major league.
Well...this may surprise you...but that dream obviously didn't come true. But no worries - I've still enjoyed the game to this day, and I love nothing more than going to the ballpark, or just listening to a game on the radio.
Therefore, it was a no-brainer that while visiting New York City, it was a MUST-DO for moi to visit Yankees Stadium...and although the stadium isn't the original - and therefore doesn't have the history of such famous players as Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio - it's STILL Yankees Stadium. And therefore MUST be paid homage to.
I would have loved, loved, loved to have actually gone to a game...but the Yankees home schedule didn't coincide with my schedule...which just pissed me off to no end, because really, they should have consulted with ME before deciding on a schedule, right?! If I couldn't fit in a game, the next best thing was to head up north - to The Bronx - for an actual tour of the stadium itself.
I booked a tour through Viator.com, and for a "mere" $79 per person, we would get to go behind the scenes at the ballpark, as well as get to meet a former player. Yes, the price was a bit high - but trust me when I say it was a heck of a lot cheaper than going to an actual game.
So...we showed up at the Grey Line office at 9:00 to check in...apparently, we'd be provided bus transportation TO the Stadium, but NOT back to Manhattan. Confusing. There was only one other couple going on this tour - for a total of five of us - and we were driven all the way to the Bronx on a double-decker bus. All by ourselves. Yes. Five people. One bus. Weird.
Daughter and I hanging out at Grey Line...not sure what we were talking about here, but I kinda' love this picture.
Along the way, we got to experience - for the first time - the EPIC traffic jams that are a part of NYC culture. Oh. My. God. Bumper to bumper to bumper...our bus crawled and inched along, so it seemed to take an eternity to FINALLY get to Yankees Stadium. Gah. This is when I wish we would have just skipped our "included transportation" with the tour, and taken the subway instead. It would have shaved off about 45 minutes of time.
So...we arrive at Yankees Stadium, where we are greeted by several Yankee employees, who whisk us through security and then take us into the stadium. Besides our official guide who would be doing the talking, we were escorted by 2-3 other stadium employees, who were there to basically babysit us and make sure we didn't do something terrible, I guess, to the stadium. We actually had more Yankee staff in our group than we did tourists, which was a bit weird.
This tour had promised a meeting with a former New York Yankee, and we were introduced to Jim Leyritz, a former catcher and infielder who played on the 1996 and 1999 World Series championship teams for the Yankees. Jim was very affable and friendly, and was quite eager to chime in during our tour to add pertinent and relevant information.
Jim, back in his playing days....
The first area that we visited was the museum, which was impressive in its memorabilia and displays it has in homage to the Yankees. Some of my favorite things included:
A display case featuring one of my favorite players, Mickey Mantle...
Babe Ruth and my ALL-TIME favorite, Lou Gehrig....
Hubby listens as Jim tells what it was like to play under the George Steinbrenner years....
Thurman Munson's locker has been preserved...he was killed in a plane crash during his career with the Yankees....
The centerpiece of the museum was the Ball of Walls...that was part of the Don Larsen sculpture. Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series...there is now a statue of Don, "throwing" a pitch to a statue of Yogi Berra...and the trajectory of his last pitch formes the Ball of Walls. The wall is filled with thousands of autographed balls from former players. It's WAY cool:
The museum was really extensive, and tastefully done...even if you're not a Yankees fan - or heck, a baseball fan - you'll find it interesting. There's a lot of history and trivia, and my only regret is that we didn't have HOURS to spend in it, absorbing it all! On game days, the museum is open until the 8th inning, and is free of charge. On non-game days, you must take a tour - like we did - to visit the museum.
So, after our visit to the museum, our tour of the stadium continued.
We next ventured out to centerfield, where we visited Monument Park, an open-air museum that recognizes former Yankees greats:
Check out the seats and the foam cushions...don't they look comfy??!! Jim had us sit down and try them out just so we could see how soft and cushy they are....!
Lots of cush for your tush!
We were then taken to the Yankees dugout, where we got to go inside and have a seat:
SQUEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!! Look at that HUGE grin on my face!!!! I can't stop smiling!!!!!
We sat here for a bit while Jim told us more stories of his baseball playing days:
We then got to pose with Jim for a picture, which he later autographed for us:
I'd tell you about the next part of the tour - but then I'd have to kill you. Seriously - the next part was so "top-secret" - you would have thought we were going into the Oval Office for a meeting with the President and the Pope at the same time...when all we were really doing was visiting the Yankee clubhouse. However, we were told - no less than 4 times - that we were NOT to have cameras out - and we were NOT to have our cell phones in our hands. Period. Or we'd be escorted right out of the clubhouse, the stadium - heck, they'd probably have us on the first ferry to New Jersey. NO PHOTOS OF THE CLUBHOUSE.
But it was way cool. Wow. They've spared no expense for the ballplayers, in the decor, the furnishings, the artwork...it was pretty amazing. An interesting bit of trivia: there's only ONE current New York Yankees ballplayer who has not one, but TWO lockers...know who it is?
If you answered Derek Jeter, give yourself a pat on the back. Derek is so popular - with both the fans and outside companies - that he has to have two lockers to keep up with the fan mail, endorsement deals, and products that he receives.
All too soon, our tour was at an end...that hour flew by quickly. I loved it 95%. I reserve 5% because I didn't like the feeling that I was being escorted by prison guards - it was just very disconcerting. I could see having that much security detail around us if we'd been a HUGE barbarian group of tourists - but there were five of us. FIVE. I teased Hubby that he must have a suspicious face or something.
Jim, the former Yankee player, was a delight. He was so eager to tell his stories...and to share everything...and entertain ANY and ALL questions that we had. He was so helpful, that after the tour was over, he volunteered to walk us to the subway station and put us on the right train, as that's how he was going home himself.
Just walkin' the streets of NYC with a former major league baseball player...looking like we do this all the time....! EEP!
Was the tour worth it? Yes. I would probably not buy my tickets through Viator, though...You can definitely do this tour much cheaper by buying tickets directly from the Yankees website...and then take the subway up to the Bronx. At the end of the tour, you're given a keychain, as well as an opportunity to purchase some fun photos....all in all, a GREAT morning, and as close to being a professional ballplayer as I'll ever be!