A life-size statue of George M. Steinbrenner (1930-2010), the owner and manager of the New York Yankees from 1973-2010, is at the front of the stadium. A small monument park is also located here (the original is, of course, at Yankee Stadium in New York) with plaques and retired numbers of distinguished members of the New York Yankees over the years.
We arrived about an hour before the game (and paid $20 for parking at a nearby private lot). There is $10 parking at nearby Raymond James Stadium (where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play).
A $40M renovation of the stadium was completed this year which included replacing all of the seats and upgrades to all of the retail areas, suites, workout areas, and locker room. Check out the new scoreboard.
We found our seats and saw the Phillies do some batting practice.
While John stayed to watch the teams practice, I took a stroll around the stadium and took some pictures. Here's the layout of the stadium.
I loved the murals on the walls that tell the stories of the rich history of the Yankees. One of the most famous baseball quotes of all time was delivered on July 4, 1939, by Lou Gehrig during his speech at a home-plate ceremony on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day. Called the Iron Horse of baseball, he played 2,130 consecutive games until he was diagnosed with ALS. Gehrig died just two years after this.
There are lots of other interesting facts and quotes painted on walls throughout the stadium. Here are ones by or about Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson describing Jim "Catfish" Hunter, and Yogi Berra.
And the 6th game of the 1977 World Series when Reggie Jackson hit three home runs.
The Team store was packed and people were buying lots of Yankees gear.
The Yankee and Phillies teams and staff lined up for the National Anthem that was beautifully sung by a high school student from Tampa.
I went to get us something to drink before the game started (there are clubhouses at either side of the stadium where they sell cocktails $10/each, food, beer, soda, etc.) Beer is sold at many kiosks, though, throughout the stadium. While I was there, they set off fireworks to celebrate the first game of Spring Training. All you can see, though, is the smoke!
As most of you know, Spring Training is a series of practice and exhibition games that precede the start of the regular Major League Baseball season. It allows players from the minor leagues to try out for positions on the team. Existing players also benefit from the practice time prior to the competitive season.
Pitchers are normally swapped out every two innings. Here are some of the ones we saw.
Here are a couple of the hits during the game.
This is Vinny, who has been working at the Yankees Spring Training for 30+ years. Most people that walked by stopped to talk with him. He told me he was 88 years old, a veteran of WWII, and, of course, a die-hard Yankees fan.
Two ladies (daughter, Jennifer, and her mother) sitting behind us had travelled from NYC and New Jersey for a Florida vacation and came to this Yankees spring training game. We enjoyed chatting with them on and off during the game.
Also, friends, Pat and Joe, were also at the game and had seats near us. I knew Pat from my previous job, and we had dinner with them a month or so ago.
Singing "Take me out to the ball game..." during the 7th inning stretch is a baseball tradition sure to bring a smile to your face! The final score of the game was Yankees 9, Phillies 4 (although the next day, the Phillies won 5 to 4). We have tickets for two more games in March and are looking forward to our next afternoon of baseball.