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Every New York Yankees fan has a bucket list of activities to take part in at some point in their lives. But even the most die-hard fans haven't done everything there is to experience in and around the Bronx. From visiting Stan's Sports Bar to sitting in the bleachers for the roll call, author Mark Feinsand provides ideas, recommendations, and insider tips for must-see places and can't-miss activities near Yankee Stadium. But not every experience requires a trip to New York; long-distance Yankees fans can cross some items off their list from the comfort of their own homes. Whether you're attending every home game or supporting the Yanks from afar, there's something for every fan to do in The New York Yankees Fans' Bucket List.
About the Author
Mark Feinsand has covered the Yankees and MLB since 2001 for the New York Daily News and MLB.com. He appears regularly on multiple television and radio outlets including MLB Network, YES Network, and WFAN.
Read an Excerpt
The New York Yankees Fans' Bucket List
By Mark Feinsand
Triumph Books LLCCopyright © 2017 Mark Feinsand
All rights reserved.
This is where it all begins — the cathedral of baseball.
Consider this chapter a guide to the Yankees' palatial ballpark in the Bronx; a what-where-when-why manual on getting the most out of any trip to Yankee Stadium.
Attend a Game at Yankee Stadium
WHERE: Yankee Stadium
WHEN: 81 regular season games each season
HOW TO DO IT: Buy tickets at Yankees.com
COST FACTOR: Varies based on seats
BUCKET RANK: *****
No longer the "House that Ruth Built" since the move across 161 Street in 2009 — many refer to it now as the "House that Jeter Built" or the "House the Boss Built" — Yankee Stadium remains among the most famous sports venues in the world.
For any Yankees fan, there's nothing like the experience of hopping on the subway (the B, D, and 4 lines all take you to the 161 Street–Yankee Stadium station) and heading to the ballpark to catch a game. The team's history is on display from nearly every angle, from the photos of all 27 championship teams that hover over concession stands to Monument Park to the legendary frieze that evokes memories of the old yard across the street.
There is plenty to see before you enter the stadium, starting with Babe Ruth Plaza, which lines 161st Street. The plaza recounts the Great Bambino's life through a series of porcelain images and storyboards, giving you a look at the most celebrated slugger of all time.
Look from the street at the architecture of the ballpark, which was designed to pay homage to the original Stadium that legends such as Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio called home.
Inside the stadium, check out the Great Hall, a 31,000-square-foot space that features enormous double-sided banners of Yankees greats, a 24-foot-high, 36-foot-wide HD video board, and several concession and merchandise stands.
Both Monument Park and the Yankees Museum (more on these later) are must-see stops for any fan, offering a look at the team's retired numbers, plaques, and monuments, as well as a great collection of memorabilia from the most successful franchise in North American sports history.
While you're at the game, you're going to want to eat. Unlike the old stadium, the new place offers much more than hot dogs, sausages, and chicken fingers, giving fans a wide variety of options to choose from.
Among the most popular concessions are the steak sandwiches at Lobel's of New York (Sections 133 and 321), BBQ at Brother Jimmy's (Sections 133, 201, 214, and 320A), the meatball parm sandwich at Parm (Section 105), and the cheesesteak at Carl's Steak, which can be had with Cheez Whiz or white American cheese (Sections 107, 223, and 311). Melissa's Farmers Market (Section 121B) offers a variety of choices for those seeking healthy options.
If you're looking for a sit-down meal, both NYY Steak and the Hard Rock Cafe are good spots to dine before the game.
Sightlines are good from pretty much every seat in the ballpark, though if you're looking to spoil yourself, sink some dollars into tickets in the Legends Seats in the area behind home plate. The view from down low can't be beat, and tickets also include entrance into the club behind the seats, giving you a smorgasbord of dining options that will make you forget you're at a ballpark.
"It's hard to do, but a must-thing for any Yankees fan is to see a game in the Legends Seats," said Michael Kay, a longtime Yankees broadcaster. "It's pretty amazing. The amenities are great, the restaurant is incredible, and the food is never-ending. It's pretty neat."
For the true baseball fan, Kay also recommends a different view.
"When my kids are old enough to understand, I want them to sit in the upper deck in the last row," Kay said. "That's where I always used to sit; it gives you a whole perspective, seeing the entire field from above."
Some fans are quick to point out that the new stadium doesn't have the history or atmosphere that the old park did; they're right to some extent. Although you can no longer point to center field and say, "That's where Joe D. and the Mick stood," the Yankees have provided plenty of memorable moments during the early years in their new home.
From the World Series championship in the stadium's inaugural 2009 season to Mariano Rivera setting baseball's all-time saves record to Derek Jeter passing Lou Gehrig for the team's all-time hits mark or recording his 3,000 hit, fans have already been treated to their fair share of history.
As for the aura — and mystique, which Curt Schilling memorably pointed out during the Yankees' improbable Game 4 and 5 wins in the Bronx in the 2001 World Series — there is one important constant that moved from one stadium to the other: Yankees fans.
"There's an edge to the Bronx," said former Yankee and current YES Network broadcaster David Cone.
Yes, there are more corporate fans in the ballpark now than there used to be, but the true fans still remind visiting players where they are.
"The fans are loud and they're smart," said Alex Rodriguez, who played five years in the old stadium and eight seasons in the new one. "They know when to cheer, they know when to put pressure on the other team; they're always into the game. One thing you know playing there is that it doesn't matter who you're playing; it could be a Tuesday night in July, they're never going to let you get back on your heels and get comfortable. I always appreciated that.
"The stadiums are both great for different reasons. You'll never replace the feeling of nearly 60,000 people hanging all over you, but in 2009, we took that energy and brought it across the street. You see the history, you see the fans, the energy in the Stadium, who wouldn't want to be a part of that?"
Join the "Bleacher Creatures" for Roll Call
WHERE: Yankee Stadium
WHEN: 81 regular season games each season
HOW TO DO IT: Buy tickets at Yankees.com
COST FACTOR: Varies based on seats
BUCKET RANK: *****
One of Yankee Stadium's greatest traditions came as a result of boredom.
It was May 1996 during an afternoon game against the Chicago White Sox that the Roll Call was born.
"People were bored; we said, 'Do you think we can get Tino [Martinez] to wave to us?'" said Vinny Milano, better known as "Bald Vinny" in the bleachers. "That's literally how it started. We started chanting Tino's name and he turned around and waved.
"We thought, 'Holy shit. They hear us.' Unheard of. You could scream all day long and never get a reaction. As soon as you get a reaction? It's on. It broke the wall between the fan and the players on the field. It was crazy to even think about it.
"We started moving around the field and calling every player's name. They talked about it after the game on MSG after our first Roll Call and that's how it was born. It became a tradition."
The "Bleacher Creatures," as the group of fans in the section is known, have been around since the mid-1980s, though they became a cult of sorts in New York after Daily News columnist Filip Bondy began writing about them during the '96 season.
Bernie Williams recalled being one of the first players involved in the Roll Call, noting the persistence of the fans in the bleachers.
"What really caught my attention the first couple of times was that they weren't taking no for an answer," Williams said. "I had to acknowledge them or they weren't going to stop. It started with me in center field, then left field, and then right field. Then it started trickling down to the infield. Once you got called, they wouldn't stop until you waved or tipped your cap.
"Whether we were struggling or doing well – and granted, we were doing well most of the time – they never changed. It became a staple of being at Yankee Stadium. I was proud to be a part of that whole thing."
The Roll Call, as it became to be known, begins with the center fielder, followed by the left fielder, right fielder, first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, and third baseman.
"You'd listen for your name," former right fielder Paul O'Neill said, "because you'd better salute them."
On rare occasions, the pitcher and catcher will also be included, though David Wells was the only pitcher that was a regular part of the Roll Call.
Joe Girardi, who caught for the Yankees from 1996 to '99 before later becoming the manager in 2008, was always jealous of his teammates' participation in the tradition.
"You're watching all these other guys do things and I'm thinking, 'I can't do anything —
I'm back here calling signs!'" Girardi said. "It's special to be part of that. When you talk about the Roll Call, it just says 'Yankee Stadium.'"
When Hideki Matsui played his first home game as a Yankee in 2003, the chant of "Matsu-i!" went on for nearly two minutes as the left fielder had no idea he was supposed to acknowledge the crowd.
Matsui's ignorance was understood, as he had never seen or heard of such a thing playing in Japan. But third baseman Scott Brosius, a key cog on the Yankees' championship teams from 1998 to 2000, was known for taunting the Bleacher Creatures by making them wait for a response.
New Yankees would sometimes be caught off guard the first time they heard their names, while others took the field for the first time in the Bronx with anticipation of being part of the Roll Call.
"I love it," Alex Rodriguez said. "I thought it was one of the neatest things when I first came over from Texas."
Each Roll Call begins with the leader — Milano held that role for several years — shouting "Yo, Bernie!" (or whoever is playing center field that day) at the center fielder before making the rounds. That forged a special relationship between the Creatures and Williams, who manned center field for the first decade of the Roll Call's existence.
"We love Bernie forever," Milano said. "Roll Call used to center on Bernie and then everybody else. Bleacher Creatures have a special place for Bernie, and we feel he's been improperly left out of the whole Core Four thing. Andy [Pettitte] left and Bernie never did, even though he had a chance to."
One of Milano's favorite Roll Call moments centered around Williams, who showed a sense of humor few realized he had.
"It was Bernie bobblehead day," Milano said. "Instead of waving, he turned around and bobbled his head. It's one of my favorite things I've seen at the stadium."
In 2006, Williams had been taken out of center field and reduced to a designated hitter role to open the season. Batting ninth in the lineup, he began the home opener in the clubhouse, so he was unaware that the Bleacher Creatures were chanting his name — something they rarely did for a DH since he was not on the field.
Pitcher Shawn Chacon ran to the clubhouse to inform Williams.
"Shawn came into the clubhouse and said, 'They want you down there,'" Williams said after the game. "By the time I went down, it was already calm."
Right fielders always had a special bond with the Creatures, starting with O'Neill in 1996.
"You start to see guys, the regulars," O'Neill said. "You see them every day. Those are your true fans. Those are the guys that were there before it became cool to be there with the winning. There was nothing better than getting a big hit, hitting a home run, then running out to right field next inning to the Bleacher Creatures cheering."
For the past decade or so, outfielders have taken to creating custom responses to the Creatures. Nick Swisher stood at attention and saluted, while Brett Gardner flexes like a pro wrestler. According to Milano, Johnny Damon was the first to customize a Roll Call response back in 2006.
"Everybody used to just wave, but Johnny got down on one knee and did the double finger-point," Milano said. "He's the father of all the outfielders doing their own thing."
Swisher's salute became his signature during his four years in pinstripes.
"It was a match made in heaven; they appreciated me and I appreciated them for everything they did," Swisher said. "I came up with the salute in part because my grandfather was a military man, but also it was saluting the fans for the way they brought me in and the way they made me feel every time I took that field."
In this era of free agency, players move from team to team regularly. That doesn't stop the Bleacher Creatures from welcoming back their old friends in familiar fashion, giving some former Yankees the Roll Call treatment even while they wear another uniform.
When Jason Giambi left the Yankees after the 2008 season, he said the following season, "The biggest thing I miss is the Roll Call. There's no doubt about it; it's the best thing in baseball."
Not surprisingly, Giambi received a Roll Call chant when he returned to the Bronx as a member of the Oakland Athletics.
"I was honored and grateful to get that reception," Giambi said.
Other former players to receive such an honor from the Creatures include Alfonso Soriano, Wells, Damon, and Swisher.
"That doesn't happen very often," Swisher said. "I definitely had a special bond that will never be forgotten. Not many people get to experience that."
The Bleacher Creatures resided in sections 37 and 39 at the old Yankee Stadium, relocating to section 203 in the new stadium when it opened in 2009. The vibe isn't quite the same as it used to be, but for a first-timer who has never done it, sitting among the Creatures and chanting Roll Call is an experience not to be missed.
"It's weird how Roll Call is here now, thinking about how it was at the old stadium," Milano said. "We were just there to make noise, be as loud and obnoxious as humanly possible. It still happens every day. When the crowd is electric, it's still one of the best places in the world to sit. We have our own brand of fun. We try to keep it as alive as possible."
Party Pregame at Stan's Sports Bar
WHERE: 836 River Avenue, Bronx, NY
WHEN: Before or after every Yankees home game
COST FACTOR: No cover charge
BUCKET RANK: *****
Football stadiums have elaborate tailgating parties. Yankee Stadium has Stan's Sports Bar.
Think of it as the Bronx's very own version of Cheers, only instead of everybody knowing your name, they all speak the same language: Yankees baseball.
"It's like going to your old house," said Chris Vollmer, a former Yankees season-ticket holder and a fan since the mid-1980s. "Your father went there, your uncles went there; it's tradition. It's part of the tradition of going to Yankee Stadium.
"Every true Yankees fan goes there. You have that bond with everybody in the place. People are telling stories about some game they went to, some moment they saw."
Season-ticket holders use Stan's as a customary pregame meeting spot, while tourists make a point to stop in at the bar before their maiden voyage to Yankee Stadium.
"It's a tradition," said Tom McGarry, who has been a bartender at Stan's since 2007. "It's been here since 1979, so people have been coming here just as their parents did. People have met their wives here, met their husbands here. It's a tradition; if you go to Yankee Stadium, you go to Stan's first, you go to the game, then you go back to Stan's."
Structurally, the place is nothing special. Walk in from River Avenue and you see a long bar accessible from both sides, the bar top covered with 8x10 photos taking patrons through the Yankees' illustrious history in chronological order.
Starting with black-and-white pictures of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, a walk around the bar takes you through a journey from Joe D. to Mickey to Reggie to Donnie to Derek. You can spend a half hour just looking at the photos, though it's unlikely you'll be able to see them all during pregame as beers and plates will surely be in your way.
The walls are adorned with old illustrations and murals of Yankees greats, photos, and more. On the top of the street-side wall, you'll find replicas of the Yankees' retired numbers. And if it looks like there's one too many, you're not wrong: Stan's has already put up a pinstriped No. 2 with the retired numbers despite the fact that the Yankees had not officially retired Derek Jeter's number as of 2016.
Jeter showed up at Stan's during his final season in 2014, making a pit stop in the legendary establishment while filming a farewell commercial for Gatorade.
"So this is Stan's," Jeter said as he walked through the doors like thousands of his fans had done before.
"It was crazy," McGarry said. "He kept introducing himself, 'Hi, I'm Derek.' We were like, 'Yeah, we know who you are.'"
Stan's is the pregame or postgame spot for Yankees fans, though fans of other teams are more than welcome. McGarry said fans promote "a friendly rivalry type of atmosphere," no matter what jersey or cap you may be wearing. Even Red Sox gear.
Excerpted from The New York Yankees Fans' Bucket List by Mark Feinsand. Copyright © 2017 Mark Feinsand. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword David Cone vii
Chapter 1 Yankee Standium
Attend a Game at Yankee Stadium 3
Join the "Bleacher Creatures" for Roll Call 8
Party Pregame at Stan's Sports Bar 13
Take a Tour of Monument Park 18
Buy a Pinstriped Jersey-with No Name on the Back! 21
Relive the Past at Old Timers' Day 25
Play Hooky on Opening Day 29
October Is Where Yankees Are Made: Go to a Playoff Game 32
Argue Yankee Stadium's Top 10 Postseason Moments 34
Visit the New York Yankees Museum Presented by Bank of America 38
Listen to Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" Speech 42
Chapter 2 Around the Majors
Soak Up the Sun at Spring Training 47
Catch Baseball's Best Rivalry at Boston's Fenway Park 52
Head to Baltimore for a Came at "Yankee Stadium South" 58
O Canada! Take a Trip to Toronto 66
Head to Sunny St. Petersburg and Take In Some Indoor Baseball 72
Take the 7 Train to the Subway Series 80
Tour the Rest of the American League One City at a Time Chicago: Guaranteed Rate Field; Kansas City: Kauffman Stadium Cleveland: Progressive Field; Minnesota: Target Field Detroit: Comerica Park; Anaheim: Angel Stadium Seattle: Safeco Field; Texas: Globe Life Park Houston: Minute Maid Park; Oakland: Oakland Coliseum 88
Chapter 3 Yankees Legends
Visit the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum 103
Visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum 107
Learn the Yankees Retired Numbers 111
Crunch the Numbers: Know the Yankees' Records 120
Debate the Yankees' Mount Rushmore 122
Holy Cow! Listen to Yankees Broadcasters through the Years 127
Visit the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center 137
Learn the History of Closers: From Short Men to Sandman 143
A Day for Thurman: The Yankees Honor the Captain 147
Attend the Thurman Munson Awards Dinner 150
Derek Jeter's Fairy-Tale Ending 154
Chapter 4 A Moment in Time
Aaron Boone Belts the BoSox 161
Bucky F'n Dent 164
Jeffrey Maier Lends a Hand 168
Doc Gooden Makes a House Call 172
Yankees Slam the Athletics Again and Again and Again 177
A-Rod's Epic Night 180
Gator Gets the Crowd on Its Feet-Over and Over Again 185
Jim Abbott Makes Unexpected History 188
Reggie Jackson Becomes Mr October 194
One Is Not Enough for Allie Reynolds 198
Derek Jeter Becomes Mr. November 201
Dave Righetti's Memorable Independence Day 207
The Biggest Swing of Chris Chambliss' Career 212
A Perfectly Surprising Day for David Wells 215
David Cone Honors Yogi Berra and Don Larsen Perfectly 222
The Went Loss in Yankee: Postseason History 227
"The king" Holds Court in the 1996 World Series 231
Don Larsen Does the Unthinkable in the World Series 237
Chapter 5 That's Entertainment
Live from New York…it's the New York Yankees! 243
Yada, Yada, Yada…Watch the Yankees on Seinfeld 248
Read Bill Madden's Two Great Yankees Books 256
Delve Inside Derek Jeter's Mind with The Life You Imagine 259
See Bernie Williams in Concert 263
Watch Nine Innings From Ground Zero 268
Make a Playlist of Famous Yankees' Walk-Up/Entrance/Warm-Up Music 273
Relive the Summer of '61 with 61* 277
About the Author 289