There is no better sign that baseball season in Staten Island is approaching than temperatures reaching near 70 degrees for the first time in the new calendar year. On a perfect April Saturday morning, fans began to line the sidewalks of Richmond Terrace in St. George around sunrise for their chance to meet New York Yankee great and Japanese baseball legend Hideki Matsui. While baseball action is in full swing in the Bronx, the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George opened its gates to welcome Baby Bomber fans “Back to Baseball” on April 12 to mark the on-sale release of single-game tickets for the 2014 season.
With a schedule packed with unique nights, fans purchased a total of 637 tickets during the three hour event for such promotions as the Hero Jersey Series, Salute to Bacon and Opening Day’s world record attempt at the most fake mustaches being worn in one place. Supporters came from all over New York City and New Jersey to get their first tease of the new season and for the main attraction, 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui. Avid Yankee fans brought their families out the ballpark along with collections of their most precious Yankee memorabilia, including seats from the original Yankee Stadium, framed pictures of Yankee greats, and portraits of baseball greats throughout history.
One fan in particular marked a milestone in his collection with the addition of Matsui’s signature.
Chris Gould started his masterpiece autograph collection about 10 years ago. Throughout the last decade, Gould has worked hard to secure autographs from some of the most notable Yankees in team history. Before Saturday’s Back to Baseball event, his collection was at 99 autographs from the likes of Derek Jeter, Yogi Berra, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Joe Girardi, a host of players from the 1961 World Series Championship team and many more. Hideki Matsui’s autograph pushed Gould’s Yankee autograph total to 100.
Along with autographs and tickets, fans were also about to get their first taste of some new additions to the ballpark’s concessions. Both produced right here in Staten Island, Pier 76’s fresh, delicious pizza and our new ballpark beer in collaboration with the Flagship Brewing Company, America’s Pastime Summer Ale, were available for the first time, giving fans in attendance a first look at what this summer has in store. There’s still two months until professional baseball officially returns to Staten Island, but until then, cheers to warmer weather and counting down to Opening Day!