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Older fans excited about new Stadium

Older fans excited

NEW YORK -- Thoroughly impressed upon entering the Great Hall for the first time, Timothy Marston, 65, of Long Island, felt inclined to go and visit it again. So before the first pitch of the Yankees' second Spring Training game against the Cubs on Saturday, April 4, and after grabbing a hot dog, Marston made his way back down to the new Yankee Stadium's entranceway and simply looked up.

"It's so different," Marston said. "But then I look at the field and it's still the Yankees, it's still Yankee Stadium. I guess that won't change."

Part of Marston likes change, part of him does not. Part of him was eager to see the new Yankee Stadium, part of him missed the old one. They're all common sentiments, shared by so many of his generation. After decades of knowing the old Yankee Stadium and nothing else, many of the team's older fans are now adapting to the new park. And such adjustments take time.

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"I was skeptical of this from the beginning," said Philip LaDuca, 71, formerly of the Bronx. "I grew up with Yankee Stadium. This is not Yankee Stadium like I know it.

But it is, in more than a few ways, still Yankee Stadium.

"I think I'll still like it," LaDuca said, laughing.

For so many of the Yankees fans who grew up watching Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and, for the eldest among them, even Joe DiMaggio, the new Stadium is something quite new, not yet integrated into the Yankees tradition that they know. But most have high hopes.

John Ricci, 68, of Norwalk, Conn., remembered going to the old Yankee Stadium -- the old, old one, before the renovations -- as a kid, then experiencing some of these same emotions when the park reopened in 1976.

"I knew it was better, an upgrade," Ricci said. "For a while, we would say, 'It's not the same, it's the same park but it's not the same.' Then we got over it and I grew to love that park as much as anything. This will probably be the same way. It's such an improvement, whatever nostalgia we have, you have to feel excited for this new stadium, too."

The Yankees did their best to capture the nostalgia of the old park -- and the old, old park, too -- when they designed this one. Most notable is the frieze, which now wraps around the grandstand as the original copper version did back in 1923. The Yankees hung a replica of that frieze above the bleachers when they reopened the park in 1976, and it has since developed something of an iconic status -- a third logo, of sorts.

Also intact are the most recent dimensions of the old stadium. The Yankees made it a point to preserve as many aspects of the old Yankee Stadium as they could, in the hope of preserving the old feel along with it.

And their fans -- especially the older ones -- appreciate it.

"It's stuff like that that I remember," Ricci said of the frieze. "I think it was smart that they brought it over."

For many, their memories revolve around specific events. When Marston looks up at right field, for example, he remembers the 1977 World Series Game 6 he watched on TV, when Reggie Jackson hit three home runs to give the Yankees a series-clinching win over the Dodgers.

When LaDuca looks at the bleachers, he remembers the World Series game he watched from that vantage point in 1998.

There are so many memories from so many different fans, a generation full of them.

Now, they know, they will have to make new memories. And though many of the elder Yankee fans are not completely sold on the decision to leave the old Stadium behind, they're willing to give this new one a try.

After all, it's still Yankee Stadium.

"It's still the Yankees," LaDuca said. "And I'll always love the Yankees."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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