It was a day Yankees fans have been long been waiting for: the opportunity to get inside Yankee Stadium and watch their beloved Bronx Bombers in action.
"I really think I am gonna cry and I am going to kiss my seat,” explained season ticket holder Fleur Sohtz.
Sohtz was one of the nearly 11,000 fans allowed to watch the Yankees take on the Toronto Blue Jays in person in their season opener.
It was the first time since 2019 that fans were allowed to sit in the stands.
Sohtz said, when fans were not allowed to attend games last season, she would bicycle to the stadium just to see it. She also said she missed the game day atmosphere and that watching the games in person always beats watching on television.
"You get the fans. You get the excitement. You get to see it live,” Sohtz said.
To keep the virus from spreading, seating was limited to 20% capacity, fans needed to wear masks, sit in socially distanced pods, and show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to get in.
Normally, it is standing room only at Stan’s Sports Bar on game days. But with COVID-19, fewer people are allowed inside bars too.
Still, General Manager Mike Rendino said even a pared down crowd is better than last season, when this neighborhood was like a ghost town.
"We feel great. It has been 531 long days since baseball fans have been back here in the Bronx. Last time was game five, Yankees Astros in 2019. It feels good,” Rendino explained.
Lifelong Yankee fan Jack Rut started a chant inside Stan’s.
He is an Opening Day pro, attending every Yankees home opener for the last 38 years — until last year, of course.
"It is a day of optimism no matter what team you root for and we are lucky we are Yankees fans. It always brings back the feeling of we are going to win this year,” Rut said.
The season opener was a nail-biter for the Yankees, the score tied until the top of the tenth.
In the end, it was a disappointing finish for the faithful, but Fleur Sohtz had already considered the day a big win.
"It is a very emotional day today. It finally feels like New York is coming back to life,” Sohtz said.