Originally created 10/26/01

From Babe to the BOB, two different worlds at Series



PHOENIX -- Matt Williams made a beeline to Monument Park the first time he stepped into Yankee Stadium.

"You have to go pay homage to the history of the game. That's where Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio played," the Arizona third baseman said. "It's a baseball cathedral."

Any tips on what Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees should do when they visit Bank One Ballpark?

"They might want to take a dip in the pool," Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Grace said.

From the Babe to the BOB, it'll be two different worlds at this year's World Series.

Especially when it comes to the stadiums, starting with Game 1 Saturday night in Phoenix.

"This is the biggest contrast there is, I think," Arizona pitcher Greg Swindell said Thursday.

"They're going to see our place and say, 'Spoiled rotten.' I mean, we have a tanning booth and a hot tub in our clubhouse. Their locker rooms are like our trainer's room."

True, the House That Ruth Built - about a decade after Arizona became a state - does not have those amenities. Its home clubhouse has something more hallowed - Thurman Munson's locker, complete with his No. 15 jersey and catching gear, still intact from the day he died in a 1979 airplane crash.

"You're never going to match the tradition Yankee Stadium has. Never," Grace said. "When I go there for the first time next week, I'm going to be just like a little geek, seeing the monuments and shrines."

He'll be walking inside a park with 26 World Series championship flags. A place where Muhammad Ali fought, Johnny Unitas won the 1958 NFL championship in the so-called "Greatest Game Ever Played," Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne gave the "win one for the Gipper speech" and two Popes celebrated Mass.

The BOB, on the other hand, has presented tractor pulls and motorcycle races in its four years.

Even the fans who run across the field during games are far different.

At Yankee Stadium, it's usually a drunken fan. At the BOB, you never know. One time, a woman popped out of the pool without a top.

Ah, the pool. Right behind the fence in right-center field, it rents for $7,000 a night and entertains 35 people.

Among the rules: "Guests wearing obscene or indecent clothing will not be allowed into the pool area. Example: Thong style swimming suits."

The Yankees, who have not faced the Diamondbacks anywhere, added an additional workout Thursday night to become more familiar with the BOB.

"It's like the old World Series when the teams had never played before. I like it a lot better that way," Jeter said earlier. "We get to see a field we haven't seen before. It should be fun."

Yankees pitcher Sterling Hitchcock, who spent a lot of time in the NL, said there's no reason to get excited.

"It's a borderline big airplane hanger," he said. "It's not like when you go some other places and say, 'Wow, that's beautiful."'

An amusement park with a baseball theme, some call it, full of flashing message boards, enormous advertisements, a quarter-mile of concession stands and a retractable roof to shield fans from the scorching desert sun.

This ballpark was built with local sales tax money, a plan that upset so many residents at the time that one of them shot a county supervisor in the backside after a council meeting (she recovered).

It has history, too, though much of it borrowed. Glass cases sit at the top of each aisle and feature exhibits from baseball's past, including a wooden, blue seat from old Yankee Stadium.

There are photos of Roger Maris and other greats and a timeline and pictures of old stadiums marking the year they opened - a rookie mistake, however, listed Yankee Stadium at 1922, instead of 1923.

"You have to start building a tradition sometime," Swindell said. "I'm not saying we're going to have all those world championship teams and all of those Hall of Famers like the Yankees. But you have to start somewhere. Hey, it's a new century."