11/02/09 12:05 AM EST
Yanks show fans some brotherly love
People flock to Stadium to watch Game 4 on video board
By Thomas Boorstein / MLB.com
"I don't have a 60-foot TV at home," said Jon Chin of Manhasset, N.Y. "That's why I'm here."
On a mild first night in November, Yankee Stadium turned on its lights and made use of its 59-by-101-foot video board for a road playoff game for the second time this postseason. The team had previously opened the field level and the Great Hall for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Angels.
"I think it's good for the Bronx," said Martin Iannazzo, 58, who said he has lived in the borough his whole life. "I like the idea that they opened it up to the people of the Bronx. A lot of people from Westchester and Long Island probably came, but this is for the people of the Bronx. I was born and raised in the Bronx. This is what they should do."
Iannazzo, who lives on Bedford Park Boulevard, nine stops away on the Jerome Avenue subway line, had some international company as well. A Vancouver resident named Dolores said the opportunity to see the inside of Yankee Stadium during her month-long trip to New York was too much to pass up.
"I've never heard of this before," she said. Asked if her hometown hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks, did something like this, she said, "No, never."
The Yankees have had their season plagued by rain delays, but with the temperature in the 50s and clear skies, no one was complaining.
"We got an e-mail from somebody back home, and we haven't been having good weather in Vancouver lately," Dolores said. "But the weather here tonight is exceptional."
For many fans, Sunday night's game provided the occasion for their first trip to Yankee Stadium. For others, it provided a chance to sit in field-level seats they would never dream of.
"I wouldn't be able afford them," said Eddie Perez of Manhattan, who attended three games this season.
"We didn't get a chance to get tickets for the World Series, and I really didn't get a chance to come to the stadium at all this year," said Staten Island's Richard Villarin, who came with his wife, Vicky. "I thought it would be a good idea to come out and see the park and take in a game."
Even as they watched a game being played in another state, the fans generated their own atmosphere. The stadium played the same chimes sound effect that is heard for Yankees runs when the team is in town. It even played the MatchgameNY concentration game between innings. The video crew made sure to capture the dancing fans on the big screen.
"It's like lightning," said Ann Harper, of Huntington, N.Y. "Everyone is so excited here. I don't know about anyone else here, but this is really special for my husband and me."
Fans started the wave before the first pitch and had impromptu "Let's go Yankees!" chants throughout the game. When Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins appeared on the screen, the crowd booed.
The fans made noise even as Phillies supporters in Citizens Bank Park went silent. When the Phillies rallied in the bottom of the first, Yankee Stadium quieted as the white towels twirled in the screen in front of them.
"It's very festive," Richard Villarin said. "Everyone's really up on the Yankees. It's almost as if the team is here. I think the Yankees showed a lot of class by doing this, really."
Phillies fans were few and far between, but they did show up. Jamie Wells came with two Yankees fan friends and wore her red Phillies cap.
"They told me to take my hat off, I said, 'No way!' " Wells said. "I'm here for the time of my life. Nothing's going to get to me."
After walking down one of the aisles into the field level, Wells and her friends turned around after hearing some boos from some of their would-be neighbors.
"We couldn't find a spot," she said. "One of the ushers said, 'No Phillies fans in this section.' I didn't even respond." Wells eventually found a seat, as did the other fans who weren't waiting on concession lines or walking around to take in the ballpark.
"Everyone said it was majestic," Villarin said. "I wasn't in position to concur until I came. Now I can agree."
Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.