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Yankees Fans Reflect on Opening Day - Nicole McNulty

CAT SMITH, HOST: This is Uptown Radio. I’m Cat Smith.

LEYLA DOSS, HOST: And I’m Leyla Doss. Since February, Yankees Stadium has been used as a sit for Covid vaccinations. Today though, it returns to its former use: baseball. Nicole McNulty took a trip on the 4 train up to the Bronx to see just how excited fans are to be back home.

Archival tape: [MUSIC]

Archival tape: It’s Yankee baseball time again. At long last we might say, opening day is at hand and the Yankees, very anxious you might say, to get opening day into the books.

NICOLE MCNULTY, BYLINE: That tape is 62 years old but today feels every bit as exciting outside Yankee Stadium. Gone are the cardboard cutouts of humans in the stands and the piped in crowd noise of the 2020 season. Today, real life fans, socially-distanced and masked, are back in the seats. But only at 20 percent capacity. And they might get a little soggy.

OLIVIA SCHMIDTT: I’m very excited it’s my first time back since October of 2019.

MCNULTY: That’s Olivia Schmidtt. She’s worked at the stadium for seven seasons.

SCHMIDTT: Should be good. The rain kind of sucks but whatever. It’s going to be a crazy atmosphere. It’s 10,000 people but it’s going to sound like 50.

MCNULTY: Some of the fans made a trek to get here. And got here early - 2 hours before the doors opened. Like Cameron Nettles and his dad -- all the way from South Carolina.

CAMERON NETTLES: There’s nothing like the Yankee Faithful. Me and 10,000 of my best friends - you can’t beat it. It’s emotional, I mean, that 6-game season last year. No fans in the stands. I know we missed it and I know the whole world missed it.

TAPE: Welcome to Yankee stadium. Miss, if you have a chance can I just see your ticket and either a negative Covid test or a vaccine, please.

MICHELLA DONAH: I got my Covid test. I got my license. I’d give them a blood sample if I had to.

MCNULTY: Fans are supposed to be socially distanced. Inside, people will sit in separated pods in the stands. People are standing pretty close to each other in the growing line in front of the gates. But Michella Donah doesn’t seem too concerned.

DONAH: I think everybody’s being safe and the Yankees are being safe and everybody’s being safe. I feel very comfortable being here. And it’s outside.

MCNULTY 5: But For Karen Oltremare and her son Nicholas Kulik, this is a homecoming.

KAREN OLTREMARE: For 25 years, we’re the first people here.

NICHOLAS KULIK: Yeah it’s been a family tradition - my dad passed away when I was like six years old in 1995. And then in 1996 my mom surprised me with opening day tickets and we’ve been coming ever since.

OLTREMARE: So, it’s a tradition, it’s something that, I love to spend time with my son. And he surprised me with the tickets and drove from Cincinnati yesterday to come take me.

KULIK: So, I think a little rain isn’t gonna stop us.

OLTREMARE: Nothing will stop us. [Laughs.]

MCNULTY 6: And for others, this day is historic for another reason.

TAPE: Do you want to hold up the ring?

VANESSA WILLIAMS: We just got engaged! This is how we fell in love - was over watching baseball clips, the best of the best. And she’s a big Yankee fan so I was adamant about coming to opening day.

MCNULTY: Vanessa Williams got down one one knee in front of the stadium and asked Megan Coombs to marry her. and they’re obviously elated.

MEGAN COOMBS: She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me outside of the Yankees, maybe. As long as they win today!

MCNULTY: Congratulations to the both of you.

COOMBS: Thank you!

WILLIAMS: Thank you!

MCNULTY: Go Yankees!

COOMBS: Go Yankees!

TAPE: [Music].

MCNULTY: Nicole McNulty, Columbia Radio News.


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