The stadium was awash in a sea of blue. But instead of the dark blue one is accustomed to seeing on Yankee fans, this was a different blue, a little lighter. Here and there one could spot some checker patterns and a heraldic lion like you might see in, ehrm, England. There was a strange concentration of people in the Great Hall, with an odd tent and two large silver cups. There were other folks dressed in red, white and blue floating around, as well, but these patriots were in the minority. But wait! Patriots of where? Or what?
That’s right, on July 22, 2012 history was made in the new Yankee Stadium when soccer was played for the first time on its not exactly hallowed field. I’ll retain the “hallowed” for the former Yankee Stadium. It was an interesting site to see fans line up at the Yankee souvenir booths to purchase Chelsea F.C. or Paris-St. Germain F.C. t-shirts, scarves and other items. The selection was not quite so large for the Paris fans, but there were shirts available. The majority of the folks at the game were Chelsea fans, no surprise as they have had quite a good season. I am happy to report, though, that there were a few fans of Spain in the crowd wearing their red and yellow shirts. And I spotted quite a number of Real Madrid shirts, as well.
These are things you don’t usually see on the Jumbotron during a “ballgame” in the house that Babe built.
Mariano Rivera, one of our most beloved players, threw the coin toss.
Sadly I noted that many of the fans were not “real” soccer fans, and in our section where our seats were quite good, we had the misfortune of sitting behind some large groups who were more interested in buying food than watching the game. <Insert sigh here.> However, it was great fun watching the Paris cheering section chant and wave. And although I am arguably more of a Chelsea than a PSG fan, I was happy that it was the French that scored the first goal. No! Really! Don’t laugh. Ultimately I “have” to root for Chelsea, thought, as they are the team of Spaniards Fernando Torres and Juan Mata (the Chelsea 2012 player of the year).
It was surreal seeing the soccer field markings on the baseball field. The pitching mound was gone. And immediately before the match, and during half time, the sprinklers were run to keep the foreign grass green and healthy. The term “play ball” certainly took on a whole new meaning.
The presence of Chelsea’s two cups was a surprise to me. The UEFA and FA trophies were a sight to behold, and fans were able to line up and pose with them if they were willing to wait on line to do so. It was exciting to see them up close in the Great Hall and under the giant banners bearing the images of greats like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Of course, as much as I enjoyed and appreciated being able to attend this exciting event, there is one other ballgame I am looking forward to seeing even more at Yankee Stadium this summer, and it doesn’t involve the Red Sox, the Mets or even the Yankees. Can you guess what it is? Here’s a hint…