It’s Friday, May 12, 2023. Wandy Peralta has just recorded the final out of a 6-5 comeback win over the divisional rival Tampa Bay Rays. Before you have a second to process what just occurred, Frank Sinatra is singing you to the exits of Yankee Stadium. The only curtain call that night was from Anthony Rizzo, but at this moment the show was over. It wasn’t until I got into my car that I realized how perfect that night at the ballpark had been. Two weeks later and I felt compelled to write about it.
I’ve concluded that the best regular season games at Yankee Stadium are warm Friday nights. The energy is palpable, the buzz is immediate, and the atmosphere is electric. Right as you enter the ballpark there is the instant smell of ballpark food coupled with the sounds of vendors selling programs over the backdrop of a booming PA system. As the sun begins to set and the giant Yankee Stadium sign in left center comes into focus, there is that first sight of that expansive green grass and perfectly manicured dirt. I feel consumed, in a positive way, by that emotion. Live sporting events have always provided me with a sense of joy and positive anticipation. I seek out that adrenaline rush through sports, and that exuberance is heightened even more on Fridays under the lights. Friday, for many, signifies the end of a workweek and the start of personal enjoyment, and what better way to engage in such enjoyment than to spend it at a baseball game.
Having the privilege and the means to attend Yankee games is something I don’t take for granted. I understand that some fans may live far away, or financially are unable to attend. I hope that one day everyone can take in that atmosphere because for me, moments like that — big crowds, big games, and big home runs — are what every sports fan dreams of.
When you attend a game live, it feels like the biggest game of the year. We all know it is not, but for personal reasons, emotion can make it feel that way. It certainly feels larger than when you’re watching at home. It also can give you a better appreciation for how good these players are and how difficult this game is. These players consistently make tough plays look easy. Routine plays don’t seem so routine when you’re watching them live. I know it is their job to make plays, but man; there is no margin for error. You can be critical with also having an understanding that these players are going to have tough stretches, even the best ones. It can get lost throughout a long season how talented these athletes are because of a few bad at-bats or starts. Don’t let a few bad players cloud your judgment.
With that said, it is fascinating to hear 40,000 people collectively groan and then go silent, such as in the first inning when the Rays’ Randy Arozarena hit a ball that still hasn’t landed yet. Then there is the euphoric feeling of a crowd simultaneously rising from their seats, a crescendo of anticipation before an exuberant cheer, such as when Rizzo hit his go-ahead home run that same night. I’m sitting in my seat anxious with every pitch, and somehow these players can focus and deliver in the biggest spots. It’s incredibly impressive. Strangers quickly become friends in those moments. Spending a night at the ballpark truly elevates that connection between you and your team, but also between you and your fellow fans.
The next time you buy tickets, choose a Friday game or buy a last-minute ticket for the game tonight. Sit back, be present in the moment, and take in the atmosphere, you won’t be disappointed. Maybe the stars aligned for me that spring night a few weeks back, but it is a memory that will stick with me for a while. A perfect night at Yankee Stadium.