Remembering Yankee Stadium: Photos from the Big Ballpark in the Bronx

Jon PlasseGuest ColumnistSeptember 16, 2011

Remembering Yankee Stadium: Photos from the Big Ballpark in the Bronx

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    I have been a lifelong Yankee fan, attending my first games at the original Yankee Stadium in the late 1950s.

    Those were precious times for me, a nine- or 10-year-old kid, accompanied by my dad, to the stadium. My father seemed to be working all the time, so to have a day off just with him was a very special occasion. And the experience of the stadium itself was overwhelming to me: I had never encountered such huge crowds, loud noise or excitement.

    Seeing the stadium for that first time—it was awesome.

    It had the facades, the stands filled with noisy fans, and the monuments out in center field.

    You could just feel the presence of all the great Yankee players of the past; it could bring a tear to your eye, or make your heart skip a beat.

    It was gorgeous—just a palace of baseball.

    The following images are from my book, The Stadium, as an effort to recreate those youthful experiences. The images portray what I remember seeing at the stadium as a 10-year-old with my dad. Interspersed among these images are the recollections of individuals whose lives were intimately connected to the ballpark: an umpire, usher, vendor, souvenir salesman and a fan.

    Together, the photographs and text combine to invoke a joyful and memorable time when my dad and I, joined by tens of thousands of other fans, spent a joyful afternoon or evening together, watching our local heroes.

Crowded Streets

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    Dad and I, holding hands tightly, would wind our way through the streets teeming with thousands of other fans approaching the stadium.

    There were thousands of other fans, parents and their kids, all looking forward to going to their beloved stadium and to see their local heroes.

Endless Lines

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    We'd wait in line to buy tickets—it seemed like it took forever. Finally, it was our turn, and Dad would tell the grizzled, cigar-smoking ticket seller: "Give me the best two tickets you got."

Monster Walls

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    We were then off to the entrances, to get inside the stadium. Before entering, though, I'd stop for a moment and take a look at the stadium.

    I was struck by how special the stadium was—its height and vastness. I mean, you're not a big guy, and the place was huge. I just had never seen or been in that kind of place before.

Making It to the Diamond

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    We then entered the stadium, stopping briefly to purchase a scorecard and pencil with "New York Yankee" stenciled in gold. Then we'd climb through tunnels, higher and higher, until we exited the last passageway. Then we'd walk into the blinding sunlight and stop and stare.

    There it was: the wide expanse of dazzling green grass, the silky-smooth brown infield dirt and the undisturbed chalk-lined batter boxes crowding home plate.

Spotting the Seats

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    Dad would then call out to an usher, who'd then take us even higher and higher into the stands. While climbing up the stairs, I'd stop to take a look at the players, tossing the ball around the infield or taking batting practice.

    Then, finally, we'd stop and the usher would flip down and brush off our seats.

A Rush of Noise

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    We'd then sit down and I'd listen to the sounds from all around: "Beer heah, soda heah, peanuts, get your peanuts..." In no time I'd be licking the mustard off my fingers after finishing my hot dog.

    Then, over the booming loudspeakers: "Batting third and playing center field..."

    I'd feel butterflies in my stomach.

    "And the rockets' red glare..." I'd hold my Yankee hat over my heart, shifting my feet impatiently.

Play Ball!

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    Then, finally, the first batter walks up to the plate, and slowly but deliberately, waves his bat back and forth. The pitcher stares at home plate for a sign, nods, and goes into his windup—and the umpire crouches flat up against the catcher.

    And then I, my dad and thousands of other kids and their dads, started clapping, yelling and screaming, waiting expectantly for the game to begin.

    Correction notice: The original headline of this story said that these photos were from the 1950s. Although the author's memories are from the '50s, the photos are of more recent vintage.

    Jon Plasse is an author and photographer who uses his camera as a means of emotional expression. These images are a part of his book, The Stadium, which can be purchased on his website.