The Yankee Stadium Bleacher Creatures [VIDEO]
If you’re a Yankee fan, you have probably heard or participated in the infamous Roll Call. A tradition of chanting the starting lineups names, Roll Call comes from 50,000 strong in the stands every game. Do you know where this chant starts at in the stadium? How about how the chant ever started to begin with? Former Yankee legends and even celebrities have taken part in the traditions given to us by the Yankee Stadium Bleacher Creatures.
As I sat in Yankee Stadium the other day, I noticed a plaque on the bleachers directly in front of me. Section 203, row 7, seat 25 – “This seat is taken. In memory of Ali Ramirez. The original Bleacher Creature.” The plaque got ol’ Monte’s hamster wheel turning. I have sat in the bleachers plenty of times while watching my Yanks. I’ve grown accustom to all of the traditions and quirks that take place amongst the creatures. There isn’t any other place in the stadium I would sit, and this comes from a man who has twice been in the dugout. However, I never really knew how all of the traditions started.
Ali Ramirez is credited with being the original Bleacher Creature. From the 1980′s through the 90′s, Ramirez would bang a cow bell in the bleachers to get the fans into the cheering on their team. Ramirez died on May 8th, 1996 and the Yankees paid tribute just a few days later on the 14th, the same day Doc Gooden tossed a no-hitter.
The fans in the right field bleachers had called player’s names during the game during that time. Players such as Dave Winfield and Bernie Williams later on. Then in the later 90s, the fans chanted Tino Martinez’s name and Tino happened to have waved back. That started the Roll Call tradition, chanting the starting line up (minus pitcher and catcher) during the top of the first inning. Each player would respond in their own special way. Today, you can see Brett Gardner flexing his muscles or Nick Swisher giving a salute. Naturally, someone has to start Roll Call. With 50,000 fans in the stands on any given night, someone needs to step up. This is when we turn to “Bald Vinny”.
Bald Vinny kicks off Roll Call every game. It’s his golden voice that you can hear on TV or in the stands, starting with the center fielder for that game. The past two seasons, each Roll Call has been started with Vinny shouting: “Yoooooooooo, Curtis!” (Granderson). Roll Call has become so popular that former Yankee great, David Cone, has sat in the bleachers and started Roll Call. Paul O’Neill has sat in the bleachers before and I’ve seen a photo of Spike Lee sitting beside Vinny as well.
Ali Ramirez’s cow bell tradition has also been carried on. Milton Ousland is in control of the bell now. Nobody else in the stadium may bring a bell and the creatures will take over the duty if Milton is absent from the game.
Of course, we can’t forget the Queen. Queen Teena watches over the creatures and she knows who sits in her house. I had the pleasure of sitting behind the queen as she cleaned off the Ramirez plaque during the game. Two fans sat directly in front of her and asked about the plaque. She said, “you got your tickets from stub hub?” without even asking the fans their names. When they asked how she knew, she said, “it’s my house, I know everyone.” - appears she knows who is a real bleacher creature and who bought a creature’s seat.
Over the years, I have learned most of the traditions myself. Aside from Roll Call and the cow bell, I know you can’t wear a tie in the bleachers. Not unless you want the whole section to chant, “lose the tie, lose the tie!” You also can’t wear another team’s hat. Doing so will most likely draw so much attention to yourself that you may be escorted from the bleachers! I’ve seen that happen more than once. The wave? Don’t even think about it in the bleachers. Though the language has been cleaned up a bit over the years, you can still catch a good knock knock joke (from the entire section in unison) from time to time or hear the chants of “box seats suck” or “Red Sox suck” sneak out from the bleachers. Ol’ Monte would be lying if I told you that I haven’t taken part in said chants a few times
Next time you get a chance to head to Yankee Stadium, why not think about section 203? It’ s an experience alright, but if you’re a die hard Yanks fan, it’s something you might enjoy. However, just make sure to leave the Red Sox gear at home – you might want to wear a Bald Vinny custom shirt instead.