Bronx, NY—It has been more than six months since Yankees and Mets fans have seen their favorite team play a meaningful game. The desire to see the Yankees in person play and win, even without the presence of Derek Jeter for the first time in 20 years, drew many thousands to 161st Street in the Bronx hours before the scheduled 1:10 pm start.
Dr. Cary Goodman, the executive director of the 161st Street Business Improvement District (161 BID), as always, proactively planned for this joyous event in the community in which he works. The goal of the local organization he heads as its name implies is to encourage visitors to the neighborhood to spend an enjoyable time before, during and after the event at Yankee Stadium while patronizing the businesses in the area. To achieve this end, BID employees and volunteers distributed Yankees stickers and
provided face painting to the younger fans.
While touring the community, visitors saw large murals of baseball legends including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Reggie Jackson, Mariano Rivera, Roberto Clemente and Satchel Paige. These very appropriate additions to the beautification of the neighborhood were painted on the gates of local businesses during the past year and sponsored by the 161 BID.
As 1 pm approached the focus of most fans were on the activities within Yankee Stadium. The 10:30 am opening of gates to the public allowed many to watch batting practice.
Interest increased among the fans as the players of each team were
introduced. The loudest reaction to any name was to Alex Rodriguez, who was suspended for the entire 2014 baseball season. The reaction was not negative nor was it when A-Rod singled to lead off the fifth inning.
Shortly before 1 pm, West Point cadets unfurled a giant American flag on the field. As cheers were heard throughout the stands, the United States Military Academy Band performed the National Anthem of the United States and Canada, as the opponents of the Yanks were the Toronto Blue Jays. Although similar ceremonies are performed at Yankee Stadium to start each season, they were still very moving.
A Yankee hero since 1996 and a New York City native, Joe Torre (photo above), threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Torre was honored by the Yankees that same evening as he received the Pride of the Yankees Award at the annual Yankees Welcome Home Dinner.
After the ceremonies concluded, the 2015 baseball season at Yankee
Stadium officially began with the first pitch, a strike, thrown by Yankees starting pitching Masahiro Tanaka to former Met Jose Reyes at 1:12 pm