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Yanks' draw the crowds on the road

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  • Yanks' draw the crowds on the road

    Just confirming that when packing the fan(nies) into the seats, the Yanks are the true Road Warriors out there, and hopefully, lots of people there to cheer on the boys, not just root against them!
    09/21/2004 6:58 AM ET
    Yanks: Greatest Show in The Show
    Bronx Bombers produce huge crowds everywhere

    Somewhere between Winter Haven, Fla., where scalpers were making a killing on their fourth exhibition game, and the season-opening set in Japan, where they enjoyed the home-country advantage, it occurred to Jason Giambi that these weren't an ordinary band of Yankees.

    "We're like a traveling rock band," the first baseman had said, surveying the daily hubbub around him.

    There were early signs that the 2004 Yankees shouldn't have a "roster" but a "cast." That their itinerary would need a snappier tag; "American League Schedule" just didn't cut it. Maybe something like "Voodoo Lounge Road Trip."

    Five months after Giambi's first impression, backup catcher John Flaherty echoed it, noting, "It's almost like traveling with a rock band."

    The 2004 Yankees, indeed, have rocked the joint all season long. Make that, joints -- all the houses they have played, in front of throngs who came to watch them win, or to root against them.

    The turnstiles have spoken, and the American League East leaders are The Greatest Show in The Show.

    The fact that the Yankees now are unlikely to break the all-time total attendance record -- they needed to average 43,715 for their final 13 dates, only seven of which are at home -- is more a factor of circumstances than of their appeal.

    The nascent 1993 Rockies set that record by playing in front of 7,178,421 fans -- 4,483,350 of them at Mile High Stadium, their temporary 76,123-capacity digs.

    On Sunday, the Yankees broke their home attendance mark, reaching 3,555,298. They had already set a new Major League road attendance record of 3,054,825, topping the 2000 Reds' standard of 3,016,074.

    All season, through 149 games through Sunday, the Yankees have played to 86.3 percent capacity. On the road, they have drawn an astounding 88.1 percent capacity; the Boston Red Sox are No. 2 in this regard in the American League, with 76.2 percent.

    What more can the Yankees do?

    They could elicit a little more love from the rest of the sport, but that isn't going to happen. But even as other big-league clubs show them resentment, the Yankees keep showing them the money.

    Stop after stop, wherever they've pitched their tent, the Yankees have enlivened ballparks not only with their presence, but with their play.

    Their perseverance, hustle and style of play has worn down some of their most cynical haters. Fans may find it easy to dislike an image, but it has become difficult to deny the Yankees' ethic. They don't play like a team with a nearly $200 million payroll.

    Nothing furthered the thaw more, of course, than Derek Jeter's nosedive into the box seats for Trot Nixon's foul pop on July 1. At that moment, or upon seeing the looped clips of the play in the ensuing days, fans across Baseball Nation had the same thought: "OK, these guys got it."

    The very next day, Jeter was applauded at, of all places for crying out loud, Shea Stadium. This was during a three-game series against the Mets that drew a house-record 165,625. The explosion in attendance was neither coincidental nor exceptional; the Yankees set stadium game or series attendance records at numerous stops.

    Boon times in baseball are cyclical. But even for franchises at an ebb, when the Yankees visit, they bring the flow with them.

    Consider the Devil Rays, potentially not the best example since they play in George Steinbrenner's backyard, giving Tampa Bay a strong identity as Bronx South.

    Still, in Yankee Stadium, Tropicana Field and the Tokyo Dome, the D-Rays have played the Yankees in front of a total of 678,434 fans. That represents 20 percent of their total home-and-away draw for the season.

    The operator of multiple parking lots around Arizona's Bank One Ballpark told the Arizona Republic the other day, "The only good games we had were when the New York Yankees were here."

    For that three-day visit in June, the Yankees attracted 144,592 fans; the Diamondbacks haven't drawn a crowd larger than 38,000 since.

    The Diamondbacks are one of several teams, along with the Mets, Blue Jays, Devil Rays and Red Sox, that had the Yankees at the top of their tiered ticket-price scale. It has been a bonanza for those teams and their cities, among those that have seen Yankees magnetism at its strongest.

    A trip down the Yellow Brick Road:

    • March 6, Dodger Stadium: On the first day the Dodgers put single-game tickets on sale, 33,000 of the total of 87,000 tickets sold were to the upcoming Interleague series against the Yankees.

    • April 6, Tropicana Field: The stateside opener draws 41,755, the second sellout in Devil Rays history.

    • April 20-22, U.S. Cellular Field: Three-game total of 92,218 is best for an April series since 1994.

    • May 21-23, Ameriquest Field in Arlington: Record 148,894 attend a three-game series; the three crowds of 49,000-plus are only two fewer than the total the Rangers had in the three seasons Alex Rodriguez played for them.

    • June 15, Bank One Ballpark: The Yankees prompt the Diamondbacks' first sellout since Opening Day, a span of 28 games.

    • June 18, Dodger Stadium: 55,207, largest regular season crowd in the 43-year history of the ballpark.

    • June 22, Camden Yards: 49,696, the largest crowd in park history.

    • Aug. 26-29, SkyDome: Despite the Blue Jays languishing in the AL East cellar, the draw of 159,731 is their largest for a four-game series since 1995.

    And even before these remarkable dates, the Yankees played in front of enormous crowds throughout the preseason Grapefruit League schedule.

    "There's a lot of Yankees fans," Jeter said. "You either love us or hate us, but either way you want to come watch."

    The clamor has not escaped the attention of club brass. Steinbrenner, the principal owner, has repeatedly expressed both his pride over -- and gratitude for -- the reactions to his latest product.

    In one statement, Steinbrenner noted, "Our team is helping fill ballparks throughout the country when we play. This turnout is simply unprecedented and speaks to the excitement of our NY Yankee team." In another, he talked about how it was "gratifying to see the response of fans all over the United States and Canada."

    There are still places where the grassroots response is a profane two-word yell, but there is plenty of room for provincial passion. Even that is part of The Greatest Show in The Show.

    Tom Singer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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  • #2
    Yup, I would have to agree that the NYY pack the people into the seats when they are on the road. The funny thing is that there is just as many people rooting for them as against them.
    Still a long suffering TIGERS fan


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