As the “House That Ruth Built” sits so gracefully across the street from the “House That George Built”, the 2009 New York Yankees christened the new Yankee Stadium in very high fashion winning the first ball game played in this new “cathedral” 7-4 against Lou Piniella’s Chicago Cubs.
Even though it was only an exhibition game, it had the feel of a regular season matchup watching the grand opening on the YES Network.
The new Stadium has a very similar look to the old renovated Yankee Stadium, at least on the field, as the field dimensions are exactly the same distances from home plate. There is more foul territory on both the first and third base sides of the field, and home plate is 20 feet closer to the back stop, though. But, other than those changes the players said when they are on the field it reminds them a lot like the old Stadium.
The main differences are beyond the fences, in the stands, and within all surrounding areas.
And, the most dominate feature of the new ballpark is the huge 59′ high – 103′ wide centerfield scoreboard. From all reports this wide screen “true high-def” scoreboard projects the clearest pictures imagineable and is the main focal point of everyone’s sight as it ceates a brand new skyline towering over the centerfield area in the middle of the bleachers in between both foul poles.
The “frieze” or “facade” is the other dominate feature as it brings the new Stadium back to its original 1923 look, with the classic white hanging facade wrapping around the roof levels just above the upper deck seating.
This beautiful feature always brings to mind the famous homerun that Mickey Mantle almost hit out of Yankee Stadium, on May 22, 1963, against the Kanas City Athletics … a soaring, majestic, powerful shot that slammed high off the upper rightfield “facade”, just inches short of traveling into the Bronx streets surrounding the Stadium.
No player has ever hit a fair ball out of the old Yankee Stadium. Will a player ever hit one out of the new Stadium?
Another great new feature, which is really a retro look going back to 1923, are the two manual scoreboards, one in leftfield and one in right, that are part of the outfield walls. These additions will be part of many new memories this year and in future years, and we will see classic pictures like the famous Don Larsen Perfect Game photo from the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Those are some of my first impressions of the new Yankee Stadium. There is a full season ahead of us, and hopefully at some point I will get a chance to vist the new ballpark. But, based on everything I have seen so far, on television and in the many pictues that have been published, the new Yankee Stadium is very simply “beautiful” and an instant “classic”.
Oh, yes, there also was a ball game during the Friday April 3, 2009 grand opening at the new state-of-the-art Yankee Stadium.
It did not look like a game would be played because of all the rain we had in the New York area Friday morning into the late afternoon. The rain did stop around 4:00 p.m. ET, though, and the newly improved and advanced drainage system worked as advertised, delivering almost perfect field conditions for the start of the game.
The National Anthem was played; Reggie Jackson threw out the first pitch; and, it was time to play ball.
The first pitch by Yankees starter, Chien-Ming Wang was a strike. But, the lead-off batter for the Cubs, Aaron Miles, did end up getting a single in this at-bat, the first hit at the new Stadium. Kosuke Fukudome followed with another single moving Miles to third. Then, Derrek Lee hit a RBI, sac-fly to center, giving the Cubs the early 1-0 lead as Miles crossed the plate.
Derek Jeter, the new lead-off hitter for the Yanks, who got the final hit at the old Yankee Stadium, started things off for the Bronx Bombers by stroking a double, the first Yankee hit at the new Stadium. But, Cubs starter, Ted Lilly, easily retired the next three batters, Damon, Teixeira, and Matsui, moving the game into the top of the second inning.
The Cubs added two more runs off Wang, on a walk to Soto, single to Gathright, and a two-out double to Miles, increasing their lead to 3-0.
After Jorge Posada led off the bottom of the second with a single, Robinson Cano cut the Cubs lead to 3-2, blasting a line-drive two-run homerun into the rightfield bleachers.
Jose Molina hit the final homer at the old Yankee Stadium; Cano now has the honor of hitting the first homerun at the new Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees took a 4-3 lead in this game in the bottom of the third, when Derek Jeter led off the inning with a single, and scored on Hideki Matsui’s two-out, two-run homerun which christened the rightfield foul pole.
Wang allowed the Cubs to tie the score 4-4 in the top of the 4th inning on a triple by Reed Johnson, and an RBI grounder to Jeter at short by Ryan Theriot. The Yankees had the infield back at regular depth which helped Johnson to score without a throw to the plate.
The Bombers battled right back in this game in the bottom of the 4th, on back to back singles by Cano and Nady; then, Alex Rodriguez’s replacement, Cody Ransom, lofted a high shot down the third base line, that christened the leftfield foul pole for a three-run homer, and 7-4 Yankees lead.
Chien-Ming Wang pitched a scoreless 5th inning, but was not very effective in this start, allowing four runs, on six hits, two walks, and three strikeouts, while throwing 71 pitches.
Mariano Rivera delivered another soild performance, easily retiring the side in order in the top of the 6th.
And, relievers, Veras (7th), Ramirez (8th), and Albaladejo (9th), closed out the rest of the game for the Yankees, each throwing a scoreless inning to help preserve the Yanks 7-4 victory. To view boxscore, click on: Game One
But, Ransom’s three-run homer completed the scoring in this game … and, I’m sure Babe Ruth had a big smile on his face, as the Yankees hit “three” homeruns in honor of “The Babe’s” #3, and rang the bell on both foul poles — a sound that surely carried throughout the universe, the “Yankees Universe”, as new memories were made and the great Yankees tradition continued at the “new” Yankee Stadium.
Rare Moment Of The Game …
Two of the Yankees three homeruns were shots that hit one of the “foul poles”, which is rare enough. But, when was the last time you seen homeruns hit off each foul pole by players on the same team, in the same game?
Well, I can’t remember the last time I seen this extraordinary event happen.
In the first game at the new Yankee Stadium this rare event did occur, when Hideki Matsui hit a two-run homerun off the the rightfield foul pole in the 3rd inning; and, Cody Ransom hit a three-run homer off the leftfield foul pole in the bottom of the 4th.
The New York Yankees christened the new Yankee Stadium in style, with a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs; and, with two special homeruns that christened both foul poles.
Photo Credits …
* Mickey Mantle homerun — 4.bp.blogspot.com/…/s400/Mick%27s+moonshot.jpg
* Don Larsen / Billy Martin — BestSportsPhotos.com
* Babe Ruth — http://www.gallerym.com/work.cfm?ID=278
— Jimmy Curran, “Baseball, The Yankees, and Life”
Update: Sunday, April 5, 2009 …
In the second game of the two-game exhibition series against the Chicago Cubs, on Saturday, April 4th, at the new Yankee Stadium, the Yankees ended their 2009 Spring Training with a 10-1 victory over the Cubs.
The ball seems to be flying out of the new ballpark, as the Yankees hit seven homeruns in these two games …
Three homers in game one — Robinson Cano (two-run homer); Hideki Matsui (two-run homer); and Cody Ransom (three-run homer) — accounting for all of the Yankees seven runs in their 7-4 win …
Four homeruns in the second game — Derek Jeter (three-run homer in the 3rd inning); two homeruns by Mark Teixeira (solo shot in the 3rd; and, three-run homer in the 4th inning); and Shelley Duncan (solo homer in the 8th) — adding up to eight of the Yankees ten runs in their 10-1 victory.
In Game Two … Andy Pettitte started for the Yanks and pitched four solid innings, allowing the only Cub run, on six hits, one walk, and two strikeouts … A.J. Burnett replaced Pettitte in the 5th inning and also delivered a solid effort on the mound, pitching four innings, allowing zero runs, on two hits, one base-on-ball, and six strkeouts … Brian Bruney (two strikeouts), and Phil Coke (one strikeout), closed out the game and Yankees victory, pitching a scoreless 9th inning.
To view “box score”, click on: Game Two: Yanks 10, Cubs 1
The new 2009 Basball Season is finally here …
Enjoy “Opening Day”, everybody !!!
— Jimmy [27NYY], “BY&L”