Behind the scenes at Yankee Stadium

People often ask what I got in exchange for snagging and returning Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit. You can find the full answer on the FAQ page on my website, but basically, this behind-the-scenes tour was part of the package. It wasn’t the Yankees’ idea. I specifically asked for it, and I waited 13 months to actually do it.

Here’s what it looked like outside the stadium at 2:30pm:

1_panorama_outside_yankee_stadium_08_02_16

The Yankees were “on the road” at Citi Field, so things were fairly peaceful here.

I headed over to the fancy lobby at Gate 2:

2_lobby_at_gate_2_08_02_16

That’s where I met Eddie Fastook, the Executive Director of Team Security. Remember him from this photo last season? He’s the main guy I dealt with on the night I snagged the ball.

As we got started together on this one-on-one tour, he told me we were going to visit several places where I wouldn’t be allowed to take photos. That was a bummer, but hey, he makes the rules, and I was excited just to be here.

We took an elevator down to the “000” level. That’s the area below the stands where fans basically never get to go. Here’s a photo of it that I took last year. We jumped into a golf-cart type of vehicle and headed up a ramp to the spot where the team buses pull in. As you can see, that area was being power-washed:

3_powerwashing_bus_entrance

One of the Yankees’ buses (soon to be departing for Citi Field) was waiting right behind us:

4_bus_ready_to_go

Then we drove here:

5_behind_the_center_field_wall_08_02_16

I got out and took a few photos from the warning track:

6_view_from_warning_track

I thought of my 17-year-old self on the field at Angel Stadium and wished the younger me could’ve somehow been here with the current me.

Our next stop was the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center field:

7_panorama_yankees_bullpen

That was pretty sweet, but it was nothing compared to what I saw next. Eddie drove us back through the concourse, and we stopped outside the Yankees’ clubhouse! I’d never been in there before, and evidently the Yankees no longer allow fans to see it on official/group tours. I wasn’t allowed to take photo of the entrance, but basically, it was a hallway with oil paintings of celebratory moments from recently history, such as players running toward the mound to jump on top of each other after winning the World Series. There were probably a dozen of these paintings, none bigger than about three feet tall, and on the right, there was an open doorway to one-person office.

Before long, we ended up here:

8_famous_clubhouse_sign_with_joe_dimaggio_quote

For those of you who aren’t too familiar with Yankees lore, that’s a very very very VERY very famous quote on the dark blue sign.

Did you notice the stairs in the previous photo? Here’s where they led:

9_eddie_leading_me_to_batting_cage_area

That’s Eddie walking ahead of me. When I caught up with him and looked to my left, I saw the Yankees’ batting cages:

10_yankees_batting_cages

I asked if I could take some cuts. The answer was no, only because of “liability” issues. What a pain. I don’t blame Eddie or the Yankees for that. That’s just the world being dumb. All I could think was, “I PLAYED COLLEGE BASEBALL, AND I’M STILL IN GREAT SHAPE, AND I’M NOT GONNA GET HURT, AND I WON’T SUE THE YANKEES, OKAY? SO JUST LET ME HIT!!!” But anyway . . .

When facing the cages and then looking to my left, here’s what I saw:

11_bats_and_batting_gloves

Here’s a close-up of the bats:

12_bats_closeup

Turning to the left again (so that I was facing away from the cages), here’s what I saw:

13_doorway_to_dugout

Those doors lead right to the dugout, so basically, when a DH needs to get loose before his at-bats (or anyone wants to take a few swings for any reason), he can do it easily. And when it rains and the tarp is on the field and I’m cursing the universe for the lack of BP . . . there *is* BP. It just takes place here where fans can’t see it.

Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take pics of the video room, but I did get to take a peek inside. It’s located close enough to the dugout that when a certain door is left open, the coaches can shout and ask about a close play without having to call. (This would be done for instant replay/challenge purposes.)

The room itself is probably only 10 feet wide and 20 feet long — kind of a sleek but ordinary conference room with no windows, several computers, and a bunch of big TVs. Eddie told me that the players know how to use all that stuff, so without having to ask for help, they’ll often go down in there right after they’ve batted and study replays from every imaginable angle to see what they did right or wrong.

The next stop was the dugout:

14_inside_the_yankees_dugout

Eddie had to go deal with something else for about 10 minutes, so he left me there all alone. That was fun. He told me I could step out onto the warning track, but asked me not to stray too far or walk on the grass. Obviously I honored his request. It was just nice that he trusted me.

Here’s a panorama from the top step of the dugout:

15_panorama_from_yankees_dugout

Here’s a selfie:

16_zack_in_the_yankees_dugout

I filmed for a couple of minutes, thinking I’d post it later on YouTube, but eh. I don’t want to post stuff just for the sake of posting stuff. I’d rather upload videos less frequently and have them all be amazing. Maybe that’ll change someday if the demand for my videos increases a whole lot.

The bat/helmet racks were empty:

17_empty_bat_and_helmet_racks

Did you notice that one thing on the bulletin board? Here’s a closer look:

18_dugout_bench_field_rules

That’s, uhh . . . pretty strict and specific. And it should be.

Here’s the last photo I took before Eddie came and got me:

19_view_from_the_yankees_bench

Our next stop was the locker room. I wasn’t allowed to take photos, so once again, I’ll do my best to describe it. (There aren’t many photos of it online. Here’s a teeny one that’ll give you an idea of what it looks like.) The room, roughly 40 feet wide and 80 feet long, was shaped like a puffed-out rectangle, with lockers lining the curved edges on both sides. Of course the lockers aren’t really “lockers” in the traditional sense. They’re about four feet wide and made of wood, and they have shelves and cabinet doors and a tall empty space for clothes on hangers. There’s only one little portion in each locker that actually locks, but the place is guarded 24 hours a day and also monitored with cameras, so even though most of the players’ stuff is out in the open, no one is going to mess with anything. There are big TVs mounted high up near the ceiling above a huge “NY” logo on the carpeting in the center. Eddie told me that some of the players are so superstitious that they won’t ever step on the white portion of that lettering. (Gimme a break with that hocus-pocus.) The famous facade of the upper deck has been recreated in miniature form in the locker room, lining both walls above the lockers and highlighted with snazzy, rich blue lighting.

Eddie and I were standing near a small fridge with bottled waters. He offered one to me, and he drank one too as we talked about various stuff — mostly how the players and media interact. We had walked in though the front portion of the room, which is the only place that the media can enter. At far end of the room, there’s a sign that says something like, “No media beyond this point.” While all players are required to be available for the media (anywhere from 50 to 125 reporters on a normal day), the veterans prefer to have their lockers near the back so that they can easily duck into the off-limits area if they need some time to themselves. I heard that Mariano Rivera used to have the locker just past the midpoint of the room on the left side, where there happens to be an elevator-sized concrete pillar that shielded him. Oh, and on night games, the media is allowed in there from 3:20 to 4:20pm. After the game, they have to wait 10 minutes, and then they get to be in there again for another hour. Eddie told me that Rogers Centre has one of the biggest lockers rooms; Wrigley and Fenway, not surprisingly, have the smallest. The Fenway locker room, I was told, has exposed pipes all over the place along with dripping water. And it smells bad. Maybe THAT’S the curse of the Bambino.

Speaking of old Yankee greats, in a hallway just outside the locker room, there’s a large portion of navy blue/padded wall with an “NY” logo in the middle. Many players have signed the wall with silver markers — like, probably 150 or so — and only the Hall of Famers get to sign it in the middle near the logo. Derek Jeter has already signed it just to the left of the logo, so if he ever happens to get inducted, he’ll be invited to sign it again in the center. Players like Goose Gossage and Oscar Gamble have signed that wall, along with guys like Scott Kamieniecki and Kevin Maas. It’s a pretty cool slice of Yankees history.

The final stop on the tour was the weight room — maybe 30 feet wide and 50 feet long? I don’t know. I wasn’t taking mental notes. I could be way off, so let’s put it this way: it was bigger and nicer than any fitness room I’ve ever seen in a hotel. There were treadmills and various machines along with free weights in every possible increment. The most interesting thing was a TV mounted high on the wall that listed the names of a bunch of pitchers along with different exercises and dates. Other than that, it was just an ordinary (though nice) weight room. Of course I was still fascinated because it was the Yankees’ weight room.

That’s it! The whole tour lasted a little more than an hour. Many thanks to Eddie for showing me around and continuing to be so nice.

19 comments

  1. jere80

    Nice recap. I’ve been in both Fenway clubhouses recently. They’ve both been refurbished. No smell. The visitors’ side is bare-bones and still tiny but has a drop-ceiling. The home one does have pipes above, but nicely painted, not metal and rusting or anything. It’s all very modernized now. No dripping water. But in the old days, yes, many horror stories.

    The Ruth quote sign: case FOR the serial comma.

  2. whatareyouhigh

    Sounds like an awesome experience Zack! When I took a tour of this place and felt like I got jipped. No clubhouse visit like I got to see at the old park. As great as the new Yankee stadium looks and is great for the Steinbrenner family’s wallet I’m still upset they didn’t renovate the original Yankee stadium to 21at century standards like Fenway and Wrigley. Every time I stepped foot in the old Yankee stadium I got goosebumps. I really felt the history that was made there. Congrats to you for catching AROD’s 3000th! The pride of my collection is a Bo Jackson foul ball which will never leave my living room! Hope to catch you at the ballpark one day!

  3. Zack Hample

    JERE80-
    Interesting. Thanks for the updated info. You mean . . . the DiMaggio sign? I’m not seeing what you’re seeing. Sorry to ruin the joke by making you explain.

    WHAT ARE YOU HIGH-
    Thanks very much, and I hear ya! If you asked 100 random Yankee fans which stadium they prefer, I’ll bet 99 of them would pick the old one. Nice job on the Bo Jackson foul ball. Maybe see you someday . . .

  4. Chad Stephens

    Wow really cool Zack,Here in a week I’m Taking a tour of Minute Maid and get to go in the Crawford boxes which I’m excited for!!

  5. baseball19

    Sounds like it was a good tour. Is that the best stadium tour you have been on?

    – Just bought The Baseball which I am very excited to read.

  6. Zack Hample

    CHAD STEPHENS-
    Thanks! I hope you enjoy your tour.

    BASEBALL19-
    It’s one of the best. I rarely do guided/group tours, but I’ve gotten several other private/unofficial tours which are always great . . . at Fenway, Safeco, Chase Field, Citizens Bank Park, etc. Thanks for picking up a copy of the book. Hope you enjoy it!

  7. Big Glove Bob

    What’s a warming track? Going to be outside of NYC for any other games this year?

    Dinner Portion

  8. Zack Hample

    TYLER-
    Not yet.

    BALDBALL-
    Glad you liked it.

    DINNER PORTION-
    It’s made of lots of teeny dirt/clay particles which rub together when you walk on it, creating enough friction to warm up the ground. That way your feet get hot and you know you’re getting too close to the outfield wall. And yes, I’m definitely gonna hit up a few more stadiums.

  9. Dave Mitchell

    Awesome! I got to do the tour of their Spring Training/Florida State League park last summer (I was a Tampa Yankees “Silver Slugger” member last summer and it was a perk). We did get to take photos everywhere there; sound like a scaled-down version of the big park. (Technically the field is the same specs as the old Stadium in terms of dimensions and orientation). Got to see the press box as well, and the luxury section for ST high roller. Oddly, there were more Vince Lombardi quotes posted than Joe D. Especially impressive to me as I’d been through what used to be the Twins’ facility in Orlando the previous summer … high schools had more room than there was at old Tiner.

  10. jere80

    The Ruth quote: “Baseball was, is and always will be […]” Can sound awkward if you don’t put a comma after “is.”

  11. Zack Hample

    LIZ MERRY-
    Thanks for reading!

    DAVE MITCHELL-
    Cool. It really is noteworthy how much bigger and fancier the facilities have quickly become.

    JERE80-
    Ahh, yes.

  12. Chris Angelov

    Great blog entry, as always makes me more interested in baseball, Could you please follow me on Instagram p, that would be awesome, my account in chrisangelov33, Also do you know when you will be going to Citizens Bank Park. I would love to get your books signed in person.
    Thanks
    Chris

  13. Zack Hample

    CHRIS-
    Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I don’t really use Instagram much, and I only follow on person on there. As for Philly, I might be there on September 15th, but I won’t know until the day of. I would be happy to sign your books if we ever meet up.

    RAY THE AUSTRALIAN-
    It sure it! Where now for me or him? I’m just gonna keep doing my thing and plan more trips to more stadiums.

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