Fan Follow Friday puts the spotlight weekly on one of my readers, as they share their favorite ballparks and baseball memories. Hope you enjoy hearing their stories!! This week we get to know a Yankee fan, A.J. Martelli (yeah, he’s actually from New York ;)):
Name: A.J. Martelli
Hometown: Beacon, NY
Favorite team: New York Yankees
Twitter handle(s): @AJ_Martelli, @YankeeYapping
Blog or website: martelli.mlblogs.com
How did you get into baseball?
I became interested in baseball mostly because of my family and friends. My parents took me to Yankee games at a young age – before I can even remember!
Around 1995 I got hooked watching Don Mattingly play, and 1996 was really the year that I fell in love with the game, culminating with the Yankees winning the ‘96 World Series. A couple years later I signed up for Little League and as fate had it, my team was the Beacon Yankees! It was hard not to love the Bronx Bombers after that.
Favorite ballparks (and why):
Obviously, the old Yankee Stadium has a huge space in my heart. Knowing about all the history and the legendary players who stepped onto that field is enough to give a person goosebumps.
When I saw the “House that Ruth Built” in shambles on Opening Day 2010, it broke my heart. By that time the Stadium was gutted and almost completely torn down – truly a tough sight to behold. Yankee Stadium was indeed holy ground, and it was sad seeing it in shreds.
I’ve also been to Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, which is amazing. While it’s a small park, admittance, I believe, is free (which is always great) and it has an old-time feel to it; very rustic. When I visited in July 2010 there was even a game going on, which me and my friends caught a little bit of from the grandstands.
Least favorite ballparks (and why):
I wasn’t a big fan of Shea Stadium; never liked the shape. To me, it always looked like a giant toilet bowl, which was fitting, as it was located in Flushing. The apple in center field was cool, though. I’ll say that much.
And, although I’ve never been, I heard Olympic Stadium in Montreal (where the old Expos used to play) isn’t a treat. I can’t remember who, but an MLB Network analyst called it a “sewer.” It might be for the better that a baseball team no longer occupies that park!
Top ballpark memory (and why):
There are certainly a number of memories I can mention here, but I’ll go with one of my recent – and most unique – ballpark experiences.
Back in November my friend and I were in Boston and we toured Fenway Park – decked out, head-to-toe, in Yankee apparel. A Red Sox fan taking the tour assured us we had come at a good time, being that Boston had just won the World Series not even a month before. I was actually a little stunned by how friendly everyone was towards us!
I learned a lot on the Fenway tour; lots of fun stories and history. And now, even though I’ll never be a Red Sox fan (ever!), I have a new appreciation for their house. Fenway really is a nice place.
Advice for fans visiting your home ballpark (how to have, in your opinion, an authentic experience):
My best advice for anyone visiting the new Yankee Stadium is to see everything when you’re there. Go to the Great Hall and check out the giant banners of (as I like to call them) the “ghosts of Yankees past.”
Be sure to check out Monument Park and get a look at the plaques. I’ll be there on April 15 when the Yanks host the Chicago Cubs (which will coincidentally be Derek Jeter’s final Jackie Robinson Day) and I’m anxious to get a look at Mariano Rivera’s new setup out there.
Also, there’s a museum inside the ballpark with replica World Series trophies, Thurman Munson’s locker from the old house, and countless noteworthy artifacts. Additionally, the museum offers a replica Yankee clubhouse locker – you can type your name in and it will appear above the locker as if it’s yours! Very unique.
****Would you like to be my next Fan Follow Friday?? Just email your responses to the bold questions and a couple of pictures to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t worry you don’t have to be a baseball blogger, just a baseball fan!!!
Past Fan #FF:
3/21/14 Bryan Mapes, Atlanta Braves