House That Ruth Built up for sale — brick by brick
It is hard to imagine ‘The House That Ruth Built’ gone from the landscape, but nostalgia hounds, sports memorabilia collectors and folks that just want to commemorate a visit or hold a tangible piece of New York City history can buy a slice of Yankee Stadium, marketed to the max by the Yankees and their Steiner Sports partners.
From seats, sod and dirt to foul poles, home plate and lockers, the Cathedral of Baseball, which opened in 1923 will be gutted and its pieces authenticated for sale to the public.
“This is a chance to own a piece of history, a piece of Yankee Stadium,” Yankees COO Lonn Trost told a news conference Tuesday at the new $1.5 billion ball park across 161st Street from the old ball yard.
A pair of stadium seats is priced at $1,499. A single bleacher seat costs $399 with a pair priced at $699. A clump of freeze-dried grass in a small display case goes for $80, and sections of sod range from $120 to $280 depending on size.
Many big ticket items will also be put up for sale including pieces of the ornate frieze, or facade, that was displayed over the bleacher wall, old-style ticket booths, turnstiles and items from the clubhouses.
There were roughly 56,000 seats in the old stadium, which also hosted papal visits, New York Giants football games and boxing title fights among other big events.
The Yankees’ memorabilia partners said only about 40,000 seats would probably be sold after they are treated to abate dangers of lead paint.
Some of the special objects will be included in an online auction that closes on July 24.
The Yanks plan on selling some high-end mementos such as the piece of fence and seats that Yankee captain Derek Jeter dove into and bloodied his face in making an inspirational catch against the Red Sox, and the seat from which 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier leaned over the rightfield fence during the 1996 AL Championship Series against the Baltimore Orioles and deflected a ball hit by Jeter that should have been ruled an out because of fan interference but instead became a home run that helped catapult the pinstripers to their first World Series title in 18 years.
The Yankees and Steiner Sports paid New York City $11.5 million for the right to sell the memorabilia but no price tag was placed on the potential returns from the gutting of the ball park.
Steiner said effort would be made to offer cheaper items that the average fan could afford besides specialty pieces.
“Today is about saving, saving the moment,” said Brandon Steiner, chief of the memorabilia firm. “This is one of the most famous venues ever and we want to give the average Joe fan something to remember it by.”
Steiner said Yankee players including Jeter and former slugger Reggie “Mr October” Jackson had inquired about having certain items, and closer Mariano Rivera was intent on obtaining the old bullpen bench where he would await the call to save a victory.
PHOTO: A New York Yankee fan holds up a sign referring to the new stadium during the final regular season MLB American League baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York September 21, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar