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Fan fest for final game

September 21, 2008|From Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Yankee Stadium will get a long send-off today, with fans allowed to walk on the field hours before a pregame ceremony honoring the ballpark's rich history.

Some of the plans for the New York Yankees' final game at their longtime home were released Friday after the club kept them under wraps for much of the summer.

Gates will open at 1 p.m. -- about 7 hours 15 minutes before New York plays the Baltimore Orioles at the 85-year-old stadium. For the first three hours, fans can walk through Monument Park, behind the fence in left-center, and walk along the warning track in the outfield and to home plate. Field access will end about 4 p.m., and Monument Park will close about 6:45 p.m.

"I think you'll see some people getting here pretty early so they don't have to rush through it," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "They'll have plenty of time to soak in the last day, so I think it's a great idea."

Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, "Goose" Gossage, Ron Guidry, Graig Nettles, Bobby Richardson and Bernie Williams are to be part of the pregame ceremony, which starts at 7:05 p.m.

Williams played for the Yankees for 16 years and is out of baseball after declining a minor league offer from New York before the 2007 season.

"I think we're all excited to see Bernie," Manager Joe Girardi said. "Bernie was a great Yankee for a long time, and we're very excited to see him. I'm anxious just for him to hang and just to be around."

A closing ceremony for the ballpark will be held after the season, and New York will move into a new, $1.3-billion Yankee Stadium rising next door. The first regular-season game there will be April 16 against Cleveland.

Preparations to close the House That Ruth Built and open the new field are already in full swing. The 16 photos of players whose numbers have been retired were taken down from the hallway leading to the home clubhouse, and a crane hoisted into place massive "Yankee Stadium" lettering over the entrance to the new field on Friday.

Girardi and General Manager Brian Cashman attended a ceremony honoring Bobby Murcer, who died of brain cancer in July and was added to a mural of Yankees greats on a wall near the stadium.

The Orioles are already assured of their first last-place finish in the AL East since 1988, but Manager Dave Trembley didn't sound too worried about his team's focus.

"I don't think you've got to say too much, or do too much," Trembley said. "We're here in Yankee Stadium for the final three games. That ought to say it all."

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