Yankee stadium is one of the seven wonders of the baseball world, along with such more animate objects as Ted Williams, Stan Musial and the beer-throwing fans of otherwise gentle Philadelphia. The stadium is neither the oldest major league baseball park nor the largest, but it is by far the most famous. And with good reason. Since it was built, in 1923, the greatest baseball in the world has been displayed here year after year, and the greatest players: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle. Statistical evidence of this blood-and-muscle superiority: this is the stadium's 35th season and this is the stadium's 21st World Series.
The stadium is an imposing sight from the outside, with its neat, light-beige concrete exterior, and it is just as imposing inside: triple-decked grandstands, rising to eerie heights in the uppermost rows of the third deck; huge outfield, extending 461 feet into the left-center-field "graveyard" (where three tombstonelike monuments and two bronze plaques honor the memories of dead Yankee heroes of the past: Ruth, Gehrig, Manager Miller Hug-gins, Owner Jacob Ruppert, General Manager Ed Barrow). Ballplayers newly come to Yankee Stadium are, more often than not, as impressed by their first view of the great ball park as are rubber-necking tourists in the stands.
With all this roseate glamour, the stadium provides thorns. Some of its box seats are cramped together or located in the distant outfield wings of the grandstand, slightly northeast of suburban Yonkers. Many of its reserved seats are behind poles or stuck far back in the last rows of the lower and mezzanine decks, from where, in a sense, the game is seen through a slit, darkly. Stadium ushers are as irritatingly rude as ever, though connoisseurs admire the deft skill with which they dust a dustless chair with one hand while reaching for a tip with the other. Certain ticket holders have the privilege of using the Stadium Club, a bar and restaurant located in the stadium, but the majority of spectators will have to eat downtown or settle for a frank and a beer at their seats.
Then, too, the stadium, located in the borough of The Bronx, some six miles north of midtown Manhattan, is one of the more difficult places in the world to drive a car to. You can come 50 miles over magnificent modern highways to within 300 yards of the stadium in less than an hour, and then spend 40 minutes creeping the last 300 yards to a jammed-up parking space. Parking cost: $2 and up. If you're driving it's wise to park two or three subway stops away and go rapid transit the last part of your journey. Subway is the best way from downtown (15¢ and a crowded 20 minutes, via IRT or Independent lines). Cabs from mid-town cost about $2.50, and they, too, get caught in traffic jams.
But, despite all, the stadium at Series time, like the exhausting climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty, is well worth the trouble.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Seating capacity: 67,000 (standees can add 3,000): 18,000 box seats at $10.50; 35,000 reserved (grandstand) at $7.35; 14,000 bleacher at $2.10; standing room $4.20.
Record baseball crowd: 81,841 to see Yankees play Red Sox in 1938. (Record sport crowd: 88,150 to see Joe Louis fight Max Baer in 1935. Biggest crowd ever: 100,000 to see Billy Graham in July 1957.)
Game time: 1 p.m. E.D.T.
Telecast: NBC (locally on Channel 4).
Radio: NBC (locally on WRCA).
First game will be 55th Series game in stadium. Yankees have won 37 of these.