HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Setting out to recreate history, a New Jersey man has built a replica of the old Yankee Stadium that has to be seen to be believed.
As CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported, John Meeks of Hillsborough, N.J., has a passion that has turned into an obsession.
Meeks can still smell and taste the memories of the old stadium.
“The guys would be smoking their cigars,” he said. “The vendors would come down. You wouldn’t have to leave your seat – you’d get a couple of hot dogs.”
The old Yankee Stadium was a place that “just felt special when you walked in,” he said.
The old stadium closed in 2008 and was demolished two years later. But Meeks did not want to let it go, so he built a meticulously detailed replica.
“It’s about 7 feet across and 5 feet wide,” he said.
The model represents June 24, 1973 – the day the Yankees swept the Detroit Tigers in a double-header in one of Meeks’ favorite games.
For four years, Meeks pored over hundreds of photos – making everything from the handpainted ads that appeared at the stadium to each spindle in the decorative frieze. The model even includes the staircase that lined the press box and the steel beams that made the cheap seats cheap.
‘I made all 65,000 seats in three parts one at a time,” he said. “I had to figure out how many degrees the grandstand turned.”
Meeks said he would call himself “kind of obsessive, I guess.”
But each detail is a reminder of days bygone.
“Each piece in this model represents a historical fact about the stadium,” he said.
You can still see the memories swirling in Meeks’ head. He would buy a $4 seat, hard-earned from a day of cutting grass.
“When we were kids wed walk right down to the field and talk to the players,” he said.
It was a time before baseball became a rich man’s game.
“People would come in and they’d buy a scorecard, and they’d score the game,” he said.
And when Meeks’ children see it, he wants them to take a lesson away from his efforts.
“I wanted to teach them not everything comes easy or fast, but you find out what you’re capable of doing by putting out your best effort,” he said.
The old Yankee Stadium opened in 1923, and served as the home of both Yankees baseball and Giants football games until 1973. The stadium closed for renovations for two years before reopening in 1976, and closed permanently in 2008.
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