A home opener at Yankee Stadium would normally draw massive crowds that would pack not only the stands, but the neighboring bars, shops, and restaurants.
That influx of fans, however, did not happen Friday night, since all Major League Baseball games will be played this season without fans in attendance due to the pandemic.
Despite this, some die-hard Yankee fans who wanted to watch the game with other fans hoped the Yankees would feel their support as they watched from nearby sports bars like Yankee Tavern, Billy’s Sports Bar and Lounge, and Stan’s Sports Bar, all of which set up TVs or projection screens outdoors on Friday so that fans could watch the game.
The Yankees did not disappoint their fans, beating the Boston Red Sox 5-1 in the home opener on the strength of home runs by Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela and Brett Gardner, and a strong start by pitcher Jordan Montgomery.
“They’re going to know in their hearts, they will at least hear us,” said Christopher Oliver, who lives in nearby Concourse Village.
Oliver got himself a prime spot to watch the game from one of four TV screens set up at Yankee Tavern.
“It’s not the same,” he said, “but we’re here because in our hearts, we feel them here.”
Yankee fan Danielle Furman said she always spends part of opening day at Yankee Tavern. She was impressed by the new outdoor setup, with TVs set up strategically so that customers could sit at tables that were socially distanced.
“I think it’s a very nice idea, especially with the TVs,” Furman said. “You get groups in the front area, the middle area, back area, so we can all watch and cheer on our Yankees.”
Joe Bastone, who has owned Yankee Tavern for more than 35 years, said the decision to keep fans out of the stadium is having a devastating effect on many local businesses in the area.
Bastone said he has started a GoFundMe page to keep his legendary tavern afloat. And he said putting these TV screens up is a his way to attract business, so he can stay in business.
“We’re trying to stay around,” Bastone said. “The bar’s been here 93 years. We want to make 100.”