A pre-season tour of Yankee Stadium provided a fascinating and fun experience for Jack Abrams Intermediate School fifth graders. The youngsters scoured the huge Bronx ballpark, which is set to open its second year in a few weeks.
As students went about exploring the majestic new building, heavy machinery could be heard and seen across 161st Street demolishing the old Yankee Stadium. Most of the upper deck has been torn down and the former field is littered with trucks carting away concrete and steel beams.
Teachers prepped students for the trip by filling them in on Yankee history and organizing various baseball-Bronx Bomber activities and assignments, creatively tying the work to the classroom curriculum.
In the days leading up to the trip, youngsters learned how to compute batting averages using fractions and typical percentages, studied about 1923, the year "The House That Ruth Built" opened, participated in reading and writing activities and edited sheets with Yankee themes. Students even created Yankee art and poetry, and tackled several other projects, too.
During a tour of the facility with their teachers, students were ushered around by a team guide as they were given quick lessons about the new and old ballparks as well as Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and other baseball greats. The group stopped in at the Yankee museum, viewed a collection of hundreds of autographed baseballs, inspected World Series championship trophies, looked over original equipment and dove into the lore and myths of one of America's great sports franchises.
"They also visited Monument Park, which houses tributes to retired Yankee greats, as well as plaques honoring papal masses and 9/11," fifth grade teacher Paul Esposito said.
One of the biggest thrills came when the youngsters were allowed to sit in the Yankee dugout and take a few steps onto the playing field. "Students snapped photos and felt like major leaguers for a few minutes," Mr. Esposito said. "The tour ended with a visit to the Yankee clubhouse, where students saw lockers, jerseys, equipment and belongings of their favorite players."
The fifth graders had the option of bringing a bag lunch or picking up lunch at the McDonalds restaurant across the street, which added to the fun. The school sent the students to the Bronx in two groups in separate days.
In the days following the journey, students have been writing essays about the experience and as well as business letters to thank both the Yankees and McDonalds for their hospitality.