The End of Yankee Stadium, Part I: The Fans

Michael SamuelSenior Analyst ISeptember 24, 2008

On April 18, 1923, the Yankees opened their doors for New Yorkers to see what would soon become the cathedral to baseball.  This is the stadium in which legends were made and championships were won—where memories were made.  Babe Ruth hit the first ever home run at the Ball Park in the Bronx.

Yogi Berra said it perfectly Sunday Night: "I won't miss the stadium because the memories will move on; it is the memories that will stay in your heart.”  

I haven't seen quite the amount of history that Yogi Berra has seen, but from reading countless numbers of books and watching the YES Network specials, etc., it almost feels as though I have lived through all of them.

The Yankees have always had the best fans, the ones that would show up ready to cheer on the legends that took the field day in and day out for the Bronx Bombers. Whether in the 1920s with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig or the 1930s with Joe DiMaggio, the Yankees always have had figures that appeared larger than life.

Going to Yankee Stadium for 19 years of my life, I have always felt that no matter who you were, when attending a game, Yankees fans always banded together.  I’ve felt this at all games, whether sitting all the way upstairs, in the bleachers, or with my father in some client's first deck seat—fellow Yankee fans always respected me.

The "Roll Call'' that was done from the Bleacher Creatures in section 37 and 39 was something that I always looked forward to at the start of each game. The recognition that the fans showed to their stars on the field really proved how we idolized these players.

In Game Five of the 2001 World Series, when it was Paul O'Neil's last game at the stadium, was the moment in my mind when fans truly paid tribute. During the end of the game all of the fans started to chant, “PAUL O'NEIL!”

He was a player that all the fans absolutely respected because of his desire to win at all costs.  Any fan—particularly the blue-collar type like me—views Paul O'Neil as the key to the Yankees dynasty of the late 1990s and in 2000.

Yankee fans are always insightful, which is something I couldn't find across town at Shea, and definitely not something I find in my new home in Arizona at Chase Field.

While some argue it is easy to be a Yankee fan, I disagree.  There is so much hatred brought upon the ownership and the team. If you were to ask other MLB players, they would all say that they want to play under Steinbrenner because, to him, winning is all that matters.

Bottom line—when playing at the Ball Park in the Bronx for the Yankees, you have the best fans who will idolize you and pour all of their emotion into watching the game.

And this is not always true for other organizations.