The stadium hosted three papal masses, concerts, college and professional football, Negro League Baseball, championship boxing matches, soccer, circuses, rodeos, women’s professional baseball exhibition games and motorcycle races, along with many other events. Today, the current Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009, attracts millions of people every year. On Yankee Stadium tours students engage in an hour-long walk through the ballpark led by one of the stadium’s seasoned tour guides. Some of the sites include the Yankees Museum presented by Bank of America, Monument Park and the Yankees Dugout.
Featured in the Yankees Museum is tremendous memorabilia rendering the history of the New York Yankees. Such memorabilia currently includes the bat Babe Ruth used to hit the first home run out of the original Yankee Stadium in 1923, a game ticket from July 4, 1939 when Lou Gehrig gave his famous farewell address, and the first baseball contract Mickey Mantle signed in 1949 at the young age of 17. Mantle signed with the Yankees for $140 per month ($1,374 today). In the center of the museum lies the 60 foot 6 inch “ball wall,” housing 870 autographed baseballs from past and present Yankees. This display depicts the last pitch of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Championship rings from 26 of the Yankees’ World Series victories are displayed, as well as a 1923 pocket watch, marking the first of many World Series championships. These nostalgic displays show how the Yankees grew into one of the most successful and influential sports franchises in American history.
The next stop on the tour is the famous Monument Park that sits behind the wall in center field. Monument Park is a truly unique place in Major League Baseball. No other team or stadium can boast a shrine of players, managers, front office personnel, and others quite like the Yankees’ Monument Park. Inside, fans are literally surrounded by history dating back to the late 1800s. There are plaques and monuments honoring dozens of the Yankee legends who left a lasting impression on the historic organization. Visit the Monument of Babe Ruth and rub his forehead for good luck the way past Yankees have. See the plaque of Bob Sheppard, the public address announcer for over 50 years, who was nicknamed “The Voice of God” by Reggie Jackson. Take a walk down the wall of retired numbers, which now includes former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Monument Park also has three plaques, which were donated by the Knights of Columbus, to commemorate the three Masses celebrated at Yankee Stadium in 1965, 1979 and 2008. Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have each led mass at Yankee Stadium in front of upwards of 60,000 people. Following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Yankee Stadium held an interfaith prayer service called “Prayer for America” on Sept. 23, hosted by Oprah Winfrey and attended by many celebrities and politicians, including former President Bill Clinton, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Bette Midler, and James Earl Jones. Later that season, the Yankees made the World Series, bringing the entire city even closer together. Before the start of game three of the World Series, President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch. The president threw a strike right down the middle and then gave a thumbs-up to the crowd. Additionally, on Sept. 11, 2002, a monument was dedicated in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks exactly one year earlier.
After visiting Monument Park, the tour visits the Yankees dugout. This is an exciting aspect of the tour where students can sit where Yankees manager Joe Girardi gives signs to the third base coach, where Yankees captain Derek Jeter cheers on his teammates at bat, and where the team celebrates after a huge home run is hit. Over 50,285 individuals can watch a game at Yankee Stadium, yet only those on a tour can sit in the Yankees dugout. This visit on the tour is one that many fans cherish and can recount for years to come, not to mention a wonderful spot to take pictures.
The Yankee Stadium tour is an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in baseball while having fun and learning. Classes can examine the city of New York and the nation’s history through the lens of baseball and enjoy the once in a lifetime chance to go behind the scenes at Yankee Stadium.