New York’s Other Park: Citi Field

When I went out to Flushing in Queens for a game last July 4th, I wasn’t expecting much. I had been to the Mets’ old stadium — Shea Stadium — several years ago and was not impressed.

So after I got off the 7 train and walked toward the stadium, I was cautiously impressed. The facade and outside surroundings of the park are immaculate. It has the feel of an old-time ballpark, but the features of a new-age place.

When I entered through the grand home-plate entrance, I was really impressed. The grandiose entrance hall featured banners of former Met greats, and when I settled into my seat on the club level, the view of the field was fabulous.

One of the most unique features of Citi was, I thought, its cell phone charging stations throughout the club level’s bars. You could sit and watch the game from the bar, be served a cold drink, and charge your phone all at the same time.

The only thing I thought was a little ridiculous was the game-day attendants at the park. At about the eighth inning, me and my friend went down to field level to watch the final three outs of a blowout game from the bottom level before leaving. The attendants made us go back to our seats, and did not allow us to watch the game from the 100 level. I can understand the practice if the game was a sellout or close to being full, but at less than 50 percent capacity, it seemed a little odd.

But all in all, the stadium is beautiful. It even has a Shake Shack in center field, what more could you want? Oh and don’t worry Mets fans, the iconic home run apples are still in place at the new stadium.

My view at Citi Field, July 4, 2014 (photo credit: Andrew Kivette).

 

Baseball History: Interviewing Babe Ruth

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Interview.”

If there is one baseball player from the old days I would give just about anything to interview, it’d be one of the most respected baseball players of all time, Babe Ruth. The hall of famer totaled over 700 home runs, and sat at the top of the all-time home run list until Hank Aaron broke his record in 1974.

Ruth played back in the days where pitchers could easily go nine innings, and still throw their best stuff late in the game. Some would argue that the Babe’s career — especially his 1919 season when he hit 29 home runs — signaled the end of the “dead ball era.”

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Baseball History: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

While up in New York for baseball, you have to consider a weekend getaway to the village of Cooperstown. Nestled between the Adirondacks and Catskill mountains, Cooperstown is simply put where baseball lives.

If Yankee Stadium is “the Cathedral” to baseball, then Cooperstown is baseball heaven. Home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown is all about baseball. The entire village survives on baseball business. From the souvenir shops on Main Street to the restaurants, they all make a living based off the museum which sits at 25 Main Street.

Where all the greats are enshrined, the Hall of Fame plaque gallery (shown below) is stunning. The museum catalogs the history of the game from start to present day. If you want to really experience baseball ecstasy, consider visiting over the annual induction weekend, which usually takes place the last weekend in July. During the weekend-long celebration, the new inductees are enshrined in the Hall of Fame and give their induction speeches in front of thousands of die-hard fans. I had the pleasure of being in attendance to see Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa get inducted in July 2014. It’s an experience unlike any other.

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The plaque gallery at the Hall of Fame (image credit: Andrew Kivette)

 

Baseball History: Monument Park

In my post on Yankee Stadium (which you can read here), I discussed the tradition and history of the Yankees franchise, which you can delve into in Monument Park. Located beyond the fences in center field, Monument Park memorializes great Yankee players. It also has several monuments to significant moments in history, as well. Tucked into a corner of Monument Park is this reminder of the terrorist attacks that occurred in New York on September 11, 2001.

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Image credit: Andrew Kivette

It serves as a great reminder to the victims of the attack. The inscription reads:

“We Remember
On September 11, 2001, despicable acts of terrorism were perpetrated on our country. In tribute to the eternal spirit of the innocent victims of these crimes and to the selfless courage shown by both public servants and private citizens, we dedicate this plaque. These valiant souls, with unfettered resolve, exemplify the true character of this great nation. Their unity and resilience during this time of distress defined American heroism for future generations.

Dedicated by the New York Yankees
September 11, 2002”

The Cathedral of Baseball: Yankee Stadium

Just a quick ride from Manhattan on the B or D trains take you to 161st Street. Home of 27 World Championships, the New York Yankees call the Bronx home.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing games both in the old Yankee Stadium and the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009. The first memory I have of a Yankees game is a good one — way back on June 13, 2004. It was heralded as the return of David Wells to the Bronx. Wells was pitching for San Diego in ’04, and I remember walking up to the ticket booth with my dad and buying two tickets on the very last row in the upper box in right field. There wasn’t a bad seat in old Yankee Stadium, and we had a bird’s eye view of David Wells’s return. The game, a Sunday 1 p.m. start, went extras and saw the Yankees walk off for the win, and spoil the David Wells reunion.

Fast forward to 2012 and my first game at the new Yankee Stadium. I had come up for a few days in the summer to see my Braves play for the first time in the new stadium, and was blown away. A few notes about the game: Sabathia threw a complete game, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira went yard, and Derek Jeter drove in the game-winning run to take the first game of the series against Atlanta, 6-2.

The game was simply a bonus to experiencing the grandiose stadium that is baseball’s cathedral.

A must-see is Monument Park. Talk about history. Monument Park, located beyond the center field wall, is where all the Yankee greats are honored if their numbers are retired. Greats like Ruth, DiMaggio, Maris, Mantle, Berra and Gehrig are never forgotten as they are forever cemented in Yankee lore in Monument Park. There are monuments to historic moments of the past not to do with baseball in Monument Park, as well. Popes that have visited Yankee Stadium are represented, and a moving monument to the September 11th attacks sits in the corner of the outdoor area.

If you get to the stadium early enough, make sure to stop by the Yankees Museum. A new edition for the new ballpark, the museum features rotating exhibits put together by the curator. A centerpiece of the museum is a wall that holds baseballs signed by nearly anyone to ever done the pinstripes. This is the largest collection of Yankee autographs ever, and caps a gorgeous museum that includes several World Series trophies and rings.

As for food, the stadium houses a steakhouse, but I opted for the Italian sausage. You really couldn’t go wrong here, as there is literally anything you could want in the stadium.