What is Monument Park in Yankee Stadium?
It stands to reason that since the New York Yankees have been around for over a century, and have generally been quite successful, they have been the team of countless legendary baseball players. Some of these players are responsible for the rise in popularity of baseball in America, and others are notable not only for their on-field accomplishments, but also their accolades off the field. In left-center field at Yankee Stadium, Monument Park honors many of those historic players in a sort of outdoor museum, complete with commemorative plaques and the numbers of the jerseys of retired players.
Monument Park sits between the home team bullpen and the away team bullpen and was originally in play. Outfielders would often have to work around the monuments to get to balls hit to left center field, and on at least one occasion a ball got stuck in or around one of the monuments. Monument Park has since been separated from the field of play, thereby eliminating risk to both the players and the monuments themselves.
There are several different types of tributes to players within Monument Park. The greatest honor a player can receive is an actual stone monument; these are awarded posthumously to the greatest Yankee players of all time. Players with actual "monuments" include Joe Dimaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Babe Ruth.
Other players are honored with plaques and retired numbers. Not all players with plaques in Monument Park have had their numbers retired as well, but most have. Almost all the players honored in Monument Park played for or coached the New York Yankees except for Jackie Robinson, whose number was retired throughout Major League Baseball in 2007. He was honored with a plaque commemorating him as the first African-American to play in major league baseball. Others honored in Monument Park are Popes, announcers, and the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Players who have been honored include Thurman Munson, Elston Howard, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Roger Maris, Phil Rizzuto, Ron Guidry, and several others.
Many of original monuments put up in Monument Park in Yankee Stadium resembled headstones, leaving many kids to think the area was a cemetery filled with former Yankee ball players.
The article mentions how the original monument field was on the actual playing field. This may sound like an ill-conceived plan, but it helps when you think that the playing field in original Yankee Stadium was so large that only the most powerful batters had any chance of reaching the monuments with a batted ball.
As a Boston Red Sox fan, I have to say that Monument Park and Yankee Stadium, while very impressive, still have to take a backseat to Fenway Park as a whole. There is no competing with Fenway's Green Monster.
However, I do think it is interesting that the original monument in Monument Park was in honor of a man whose name many Yankees fans would not recognize. At some point during the late 1920s, the sudden death of then Yankee Manager Miller Huggins was the starting point for what would become Monument Park.
For hardcore baseball fans who enjoy the history of baseball as much as the game itself, Monument Park is a must see. When you view all the items paying respect to the Yankees of old you get a nostalgic feeling for the baseball game played years ago.
I'm not one to complain about how the high-salaried players of today don't respect the game, or how they don't work as hard as they should at their craft. I am also not going to say that all those guys honored in Monument Part are better than the best modern day players. However, there is a mystic that surrounds them. In some ways they appear larger than life.
Many of the monuments were first erected in original Yankee Stadium, but they seem right at home in the new stadium across the street.
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