The House That Ruth Built. The Cathedral of Baseball. The Bronx Zoo. Whatever you call it, Yankee Stadium is undoubtedly one of the most iconic New York City landmarks—even if its current iteration isn’t the historic ballpark where Babe Ruth once played.
In the Bronx Bombers’ 118-year history, they’ve called four different venues—including the long-lost Polo Grounds and the original Yanks ballpark—home, with the new iteration of Yankee Stadium opening in 2009. Though it lacks the nostalgic qualities of the actual house that Ruth built, the Yanks’ new home is a major improvement over the old one in many ways. The seats are roomier, there’s legroom (and cupholders!), the food options are more diverse, and—crucially—there are more bathrooms.
The Yankees are in the postseason, and facing off against the Houston Astros this week at the ballpark; consider this your cheatsheet to Yankee Stadium, whether you’re a newbie or a frequent visitor.
Names to know
- Gleyber Torres performed exceptionally well in ALCS Game Two against the Astros, hitting a home run and getting five RBIs. Keep an eye on him in the postseason games going forward.
- Another postseason star? Masahiro Tanaka, who shut out the Astros over six innings in Game One.
- Michael Kay and John Sterling are two of the longest-serving Yankees broadcasters, both as a team and on their own. Kay now calls games for the YES Network, while Sterling stuck with his post at WFAN.
- It’s unlikely that anyone will ever replace Bob Sheppard, the longtime Yankees announcers, in the hearts of fans; he served with the team for more than 50 years, and his voice is still heard during events like Old Timers’ Day.
Yankee Stadium has the benefit of being close to two express train lines, the 4 and the D. Both stop at 161 St-Yankee Stadium, which is across the street from the ballpark—follow the crowds out of the subway stop, and you can’t miss it. You can also take the Metro-North to the Yankees-East 153rd Street stop; it’s a bit further from the stadium itself, but convenient if you’re coming from points north of the city, or if you don’t want to deal with the subway. (It’s a 15-minute ride from Grand Central Terminal.)
For a really cool trip, keep an eye out for Nostalgia Rides put on by the New York Transit Museum; every so often during the season, the museum will roll out one of its vintage subway trains, which travels from Grand Central up to the stadium. One will run for the ALCS game on October 15—it’ll leave from Grand Central at 2 p.m.
The stadium is also served by a lot of bus lines, and the MTA has all the info you need about them right here. There are bike lanes around the stadium, but bike parking is harder to come by—you’ll have to take your ride into a parking garage to lock it up—so you’re better off taking the subway.
And you can take Uber or Lyft, or a regular ol’ yellow taxi, but traffic before and after games tends to be a nightmare; prepare accordingly.
Where to sit
Tickets to a Yankees game can be inexpensive, depending on where you want to sit; bleacher seats can be had for as little as $15, and at the Grandstand Level—aka the nosebleeds—tickets are occasionally as low as $10. Special games (like the Subway Series or Old Timers’ Day, when Yanks legends are honored) will be pricier, so keep that in mind.
If you want to have the most fun, snag a seat in section 203, aka the bleachers—though definitely don’t do this if you plan to root for the opposing team. There’s a group of regulars, known as the Bleacher Creatures, who’ve claimed the cheap seats as their territory, and you won’t find more die-hard fans in the stadium.
But if you plan on sitting there, be prepared to participate in the Bleacher Creature traditions. There’s the Roll Call of all the starting players, which happens at the beginning of every game (yes, the players respond—if they don’t, they’ll get yelled at), as well as chanting and heckling the opposing team.
If you’re coming with kids, snag tickets at the 300 level on the right-field side—that seating is close to the Kids Clubhouse, which has a tiny baseball diamond and Yankees-themed playground equipment, among other diversions.
You can check out a virtual Yankee Stadium seating chart here.
Where to eat
Like Citi Field, the new Yankee Stadium has a bevy of food options that go beyond an overpriced hot dog and a package of mostly broken peanuts.
But unlike Citi Field, the options aren’t especially NYC-centric; among the local vendors slinging chow at the ballpark are Lobel’s, a longtime Upper East Side butcher shop that has an outpost there (try the steak sandwich; they have locations in sections 134 and 321) and Mighty Quinn’s, the BBQ hotspot.
According to our friends at Eater NY, “the 100-level at Yankee Stadium is arguably the best, specifically nears the 130s.” That’s where you’ll find Lobel’s, Mighty Quinn’s, Bareburger, and a Ben & Jerry’s.
Check out Eater NY’s guide to the best Yankee Stadium eats right here.
The original Yankee Stadium opened on April 18, 1923, after an 11-month contruction period. More than 70,000 people attended the first game at the House that Ruth Built; it was a match against the Boston Red Sox, which the Bronx Bombers won, 4-1. Babe Ruth hit a home run that day, and according to the New York Times, ”the biggest crowd in baseball history rose to its feet and let loose the biggest shout in baseball history.”
That ballpark played host to plenty of historic moments over the years, including Lou Gehrig’s tearjerker speech on July 4, 1939, when his number, No. 4, was retired (“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth”); the only perfect game in World Series history, pitched by Don Larsen in 1956; Roger Maris’s record-setting 61st home run; and the World Series-winning game against the Atlanta Braves in 1996, which began the team’s late-aughts heyday.
But like Shea Stadium in Queens, the old ballpark was ill-suited for modern audiences, and—like the Mets’ new stadium, Citi Field—a new stadium was pitched as part of the city’s bid for the 2012 Olympics in 2005. Though the bid ultimately failed, a new stadium was approved in 2006. The first regular-season match-up, against the Cleveland Indians, took place on April 16, 2009; the Bombers went on to win the World Series that year.
The new Yankee Stadium, designed by Populous, harks back to the old in some ways; the firm created a four-story limestone and granite facade that’s similar to the one found on the old ballpark, and the curved frieze that adorned the ballpark’s upper decks was re-created anew.
What’s in a name?
The Yankees have been the Yankees since since 1913, but before that, the team was known as the Highlanders—so named because they played at Hilltop Park on Broadway and 168th Street, close to Manhattan’s highest point.
According to baseball historian Paul Dickson, the Yankees got the nickname “Bronx Bombers” in the 1930s, after legendary boxer Joe Louis—who was known as the “Brown Bomber”—pummeled German fighter Max Schmeling during a match at Yankee Stadium. It “connotes a team that has hit many home runs,” according to Dickson—an accurate assessment of the Bombers, who’ve had power hitters like Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez, and Mickey Mantle among their ranks.
Other Yankees nicknames you should know: “The Boss” (that’s the late George Steinbrenner, whose family has owned the team since 1973); “Joltin’ Joe” (as in DiMaggio, immortalized forever in a Simon & Garfunkel song); “the Bambino” (Babe Ruth, duh); “Mr. October” (Thurman Munson gave this one to Reggie Jackson during the 1977 season); and “The Captain,” aka Derek Jeter, who played his last game in 2014.
- Like all MLB stadiums, Yankee Stadium has a boatload of special promo games and giveaways, like tote bag night on April 20, or Star Wars night on May 4, with an CC Sabathia Jedi bobblehead.
- You can’t bring laptops, selfie sticks, any helmets (not even bicycle helmets), confetti, beach balls, and many other items into Yankee Stadium—the full list of what’s prohibited is here. You can bring your own water bottle, as long as it’s plastic, under one liter, and sealed.
- There’s no smoking at all—not even e-cigarettes—in Yankee Stadium, and if you try it, you may be ejected immediately. There’s also no re-entry if you leave the stadium to light up. Fair warning.
- Want to grab a beer before (or after) a game? Stan’s Sports Bar, just one block from the ballpark, has been serving up cheap beers during home games since 1979—it’s more of an institution than the new stadium at this point.