Monday, July 6, 2009

A Second Atlanta Braves Game Added to Itinerary

When I was looking at the Braves schedule about a month ago I noticed they are retiring Greg Maddux's number the day after we already were going to the game on July 16, 2009. It has been annoying me for a while that we were missing the number retiring by one day. I finally decided we should just stay in Atlanta one more day, see the number retire, hit the road for the D.C. area, and the Nats game the next night.

Today Dad called and got us seats for the game. For once we decided to go for the best handicap seats available, which really do not sound all that amazing, as they were only $30 a piece. Should be interesting to compare the two different sections, though. I assume the number will be retired before the game, so we will probably not stay for the game since we will have already seen the game the day before.

Day 48: Morristown National Park

When I originally made the itinerary for the trip we were going to go to the Sports Museum of America in New York City today, however, it has since closed. Thus instead we avoided the big city and stayed in New Jersey today. We headed to the Morristown National Park in Morristown, New Jersey.

There is not that much to see at Morristown National Park or at least not things that are accessible. I really expected more since the building by the Ford Mansion says that it is a museum, but it really is just one room with colonial period objects. Yeah, interesting, but not much different than the stuff I have seen in Alexandria, Virginia, and at least in Alexandria they have things they knew were used by George Washington and not just things that might have been.

It was not a total waste as it is still cool to see the historic site, but it is kind of sad when the highlight is walking along the stones in the ground that show where the outline of Fort Nonsense once stood. I guess it might be a good place to visit if you go inside Ford Mansion, but it was not worth doing since Mik could not go inside the house. Of course, I understand it not being accessible due to it being from the 1700s and I see nothing wrong with keeping its historical accuracy by not adding accessibility. You know what would be cool, though. A movie tour of the house as an alternative experience like the Finding Nemo Submarine ride at Disneyland has (not that we ever have seen that, though). They do have a movie reenactment type thing at the museum and the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center, but seriously reading about the time period is way more entertaining than those videos. Anyways what really got me tired of the place was that after stopping at a few of the stops it seemed all the signs got to be very repetitive.

Car Sticker Update: New York Yankees

The main team shop did not have just a Yankees logo sticker. Dad was thinking of going to one of the souvenir shops across the street, but I decided we should just get the Inaugural Season one. It is a view of the field with a small NY Yankees logo in the upper left corner and a small Inaugural Season logo in the upper right corner. It seemed fitting to get it since it is new this year and says the year of our road trip.

Baseball Museum 10: Yankee Museum

Yankee Museum is located on the 2nd level of the new Yankee Stadium right above the Hard Rock Café. It is a simple one-room museum. It is worth stopping in at when you go to see a game at Yankee Stadium, but there actually is not much to it. The fact there is not much to it is actually quite sad considering the team is rich in baseball history. At least they do have stuff related to all 26 of their World Series Championships.

The bulk of the museum is the World Series display. This display has a little bit of info on each of the World Series the Yankees have won. It includes a signed team ball by each Yankees World Series Championship team. There is also a variety of other related memorabilia, such as jerseys and bats. The last six World Series win displays also include the World Series trophies. The other 20 World Series wins by the Yankees were before they gave out the trophies.

The centerpiece of the museum is a wall of balls between a statue of Don Larsen pitching and Yogi Berra catching, which commemorates the perfect game Don Larsen pitched in the 1956 World Series. By the way it is the only perfect game or no-hitter ever pitched in the post season to date. The ball wall has various balls signed by past and current Yankees. There is a computer directory nearby to help locate players on the ball wall or identify the signatures on the balls.

The museum also has an interesting section with ballpark seats and a model of the New Yankee Stadium. This area has a display case with a seat and a photo of the old Yankee Stadium as it was in 1923. Then there is a seat from the box seats circa 1926 of Yankee Stadium. Next is a display with a seat from the 1976 remodel of old Yankee Stadium. Lastly there is a seat like the ones in the new Yankee Stadium where the museum is located.

There are a few other small displays in the museum. This includes one with Babe Ruth memorabilia. There is also a display on the Negro Leagues, which played some in old Yankee Stadium. Lastly there is Thurmon Munson’s locker brought over from old Yankee Stadium just as it has been kept since he died in 1979.

Overall it is not a bad museum, but it is surprisingly that it is so small. With a team like the Yankees there is so much history that deserves a bigger museum more like the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Perhaps it is small because it was one of the final projects of the new stadium and they did not have as much time to put it together into something bigger, but I kind of doubt more space than what it now occupies was allocated for it in the stadium. Anyways still a great museum in terms of World Series memorabilia. For better general Yankee history, though, the Yogi Berra Museum we went to several days later turned out to be way better. I will get to posting on that within the next day or so, I hope.

Accessibility Review: Yankee Stadium

We arrived at Yankee Stadium about 5 hours before the game and parking is not supposed to open until 3 hours before the game. However, the place we had a parking pass for is a garage used for more than just the games, so we were able to get in and just had to make sure we handed our pre paid parking pass to the cashier with the pass we got when we entered the garage to get out without paying anything extra. The staff in the garage were pretty much the only friendly and helpful ones we have encountered on the trip. Most of the time they seem inconvenienced to be asked even a simple question such as where the handicap spots are, but here they were friendly including explaining how to get out after the game without an extra fee being charged.

Since we were at the game earlier we walked around the park, which is easy to do because there are no steps anywhere and just flat sidewalks. The only awkward thing we encountered was getting into the Team Shop and Hard Rock Café, which are located next to each other in a corner of the stadium with a few steps up to them from the outside of the stadium. There is a ramp off to the right, but they had barricades blocking the bottom of the ramp and then between the Hard Rock and the Team Shop. It was not too hard to move them and get to the ramp and then the Team Shop, but it was an inconvenience that did not make sense since both the Hard Rock and Team Shop were open.

After the Team Shop we finished walking around the stadium and taking some photos of the shell of Old Yankee Stadium. We then sat on a bench near Gate 6, which was the entry gate marked on our tickets. The line got somewhat long before the gates opened, but we were not in a rush and just got in line as they started to check bags and begin to let people into Yankee Stadium. As we got in line one of the staff at a side entrance that the staff only seemed to be going in through pulled us out of line and let us go in right away that way. All the other entrances including the one we were in line for have a way to go through with a wheelchair and in fact they were not even using the turnstiles at that time, so it was really nice that we got pulled out of line to go in the other way.

The first place we headed once inside Yankee Stadium was Monument Park, which is behind the centerfield wall. To get there you have to go down a set of steps, but they have a special elevator to get down there that is an actual elevator compared to the lifts at Cleveland’s Heritage Park. You have to be escorted on the elevator and then to Monument Park because you end up going through the staff part of the lower level. It was actually pretty cool because we even got a special view of the field through the open centerfield gate (see photo above). This is unique for Mik because the only times he has ever been able to see a field from field level is the one time we sat on the dugout level at the Dbacks and when we took a tour of the old Busch Stadium.

Monument Park itself is accessible once you get there the back way up the ramp. It was not too bad to navigate through the people since we went right when the park opened, however from our seats later we noticed it gets pretty crowded closer to game time. It also seems they close it entirely once the game begins.

After Monument Park it was suggested we head to the Yankee Museum. We tried to get there by elevator, but they do not let you use the elevators near it until two hours before the game because they do not let access to seats above the 100 level until then. They want you to see things like the Monument Park and batting practice before heading to your seats. All fine and good, but it was insulting that they suggested we go to the Museum after the game started because it is supposedly less crowded. Anyways we ignored that stupid usher and just took the ramp up to the museum before it got crowded with everyone like us that came to actually watch the game. It turned out to be a good time to visit the Museum, as it was not too hard to navigate through it all, but it clearly was beginning to become more crowded as we were leaving.

After the museum it was only a few minutes until they lowered the ropes and let people go into the upper levels of seating. Since we were already half way up to our seats on the 300 level we just walked up the ramps to our seats. Our seats were section 314. The usher here actually did a great job of keeping stragglers from wandering into it and even when they ended up in it from the other side he would come in and ask them for their tickets before then kicking them out because they did not have seats there. Keeping standing room people and such out of the section really helps with the game enjoyment, especially being able to actually get out of your section because you have to move your chair backwards to get out due to the spaces being full and their not being that much space between chairs.

The seats were great. The view was pretty good from the seats. The bar in front got in the way of foul territory and the first base foul line, but it was not too hard to see the whole field if you get the chair right up to it. The scoreboard was also easy it see in its entirety from where we were located. Not only do they have cup holders, but Mik says they are in a great location. They are not too high up that they then block the view when you put a cup in it, but they are still high enough up that he could easily get his drink. Only complaints about the seats were how hard they were to get due to the disorganization of the ticket sales department.

Overall Yankee Stadium does a great job of being an accessible park, which is good because with it being a new park I would have accepted no excuses if it had not turned out to be so accessible. Best of all is the elevator situation, which even newer stadiums often fail at for disabled priority. Here they had a row of four near our seats and perhaps more elsewhere in the park. At the end of the game everyone crowded around to go down them, but they are large capacity elevators, so going down would have been fast if we had to wait to get to the front of the crowd. However, we did not even have to do that, as the usher outside the elevator made the people in front move and told them that wheelchairs go first.