The 2009 Yankees compiled the best record in the major leagues during the regular season (103-59), thrilling fans along the way by posting a major-league best 15 walkoff wins. The team set a franchise record with 244 home runs as well and featured three free-agents signed in the offseason for a total of $423.5 million - pitchers A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia, and first baseman Mark Teixeira. Likely future Hall-of-Famers who have played for the hosts in the new park thus far include Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez.
The New York Yankees announced on June 15, 2005 that they planned to build a stadium just one block from the site of the 82-year-old original Yankee Stadium. The new 52,325-seat building cost $1.3 billion and opened in time for the 2009 season. Not wishing to break totally with tradition, the Yankee hierarchy elected to retain many aspects of the old ballpark, including:
The exterior is clad in limestone, granite and pre-cast concrete, in the same design as the original stadium, Monument Park, a display of Yankees retired numbers, plaques and monuments, was moved to the new site in 2008. However, rather than being located behind the left-field wall as it was in the old ballpark, this tribute to past Yankee greats is now situated in center field, underneath a sports bar. The frieze on the roof surrounding the field is a replica of the original stadium’s. The wall beyond the bleacher seats is cut away to show the passing subway trains. There are auxiliary hand-operated scoreboards in both left field and right field.
The new Yankee Stadium also features cutting-edge technology. Among the more modern features are one of the world’s largest high-definition screens for the center field scoreboard, 1,100 high-definition video monitors throughout the stadium, and 227 miles of Ethernet cable. Furthermore, the new ballpark boasts 56 luxury suites, as compared to 19 such suites in the old stadium.
Also new are the Great Hall, a concourse between Gates Four and Six that features 20 banners of past and present Yankees greats in a seven-story-high enclosure situated above 31,000 square feet of retail space. The new Yankee Museum, which is located on the lower level at Gate Six, boasts hundreds of autographed baseballs, a replica of a new Yankee locker, and Thurman Munson’s locker, which was kept vacant at the old Yankee Stadium after the team's former captain was tragically killed in a plane crash in August of 1979. There is also a tribute to Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game.
The Yankees clubhouse is truly something to behold, containing more than 30,000 square feet, with 3,344 square feet of actual dressing area. Furthermore, each locker has a safety-deposit box and a touchscreen computer. A batting cage is also located in both the Yankee clubhouse and that of the visiting team.
The homage to old Yankee Stadium continues on the field. The posted distances to the outfield walls are the same, although a few quirks make the actual distances slightly less. The dimensions are: 318 feet down the right field foul line, 314 feet to the left field foul pole, 399 feet to the left-center field wall, 385 feet to the wall in right-center, and 408 feet to straightaway center. The design of the right-field stands and the hand-operated scoreboard make the right field wall five feet closer on average. At the old stadium, the right field wall curved into the center field wall. However, the right field wall takes a sharp, almost right-angle turn into the center field wall in the new ballpark, resulting in a difference in distance of as much as nine feet.
There are two other notable differences in the dimensions of the two stadiums. Firstly, the height of the outfield wall in the new ballpark varies between 8 feet and 8 feet, 5 inches, while the wall in the old stadium stood 10 feet high across the outfield. Additionally, the area between home plate and the backstop was reduced from 72 feet to 52 feet. The playing surface remains New Jersey-grown Kentucky bluegrass.
The Yankees experienced many memorable moments in their first year at the new stadium. The team posted three consecutive walk-off wins against Minnesota from May 15-17. New York swept the arch-rival Boston Red Sox in a four-game series. Derek Jeter collected the 2,722nd hit of his career on September 11, passing Yankee legend Lou Gehrig in the process as the franchise's all-time hits leader. The Yankees clinched the pennant with a Game Six win over the Angels on Oct. 25.
However, the greatest moments of the new Yankee Stadium's inaugural season occurred during the 2009 World Series. After Phillies ace Cliff Lee stifled the Yankees offense by hurling a complete game 6-1 victory in Game One, New York evened the Series in Game Two, behind seven strong innings from A.J. Burnett and home runs by Hideki Matsui and Mark Teixiera off old Yankee nemesis Pedro Martinez. The Yankees later clinched their first world championship in their new ballpark in Game Six, when Matsui became only the second player to compile as many as six RBIs in a World Series game. By cracking a two-run homer in the second inning, a two-run single in the third frame, and a two-run double in the fifth inning, Matsui finished just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. Meanwhile, pitching on only three days' rest, Andy Pettitte earned his fourth win of the postseason, becoming in the process just the second pitcher in history to start and win the clinching game of each postseason series in a single season.
If the 2009 campaign is any indication of what lies ahead, the Yankees seem poised to create a plethora of memorable moments in their new ballpark that may one day come to rival the unforgettable events that took place in the original "House That Ruth Built."