When the Yankees and Cleveland looked around at the stands and suites at Progressive Field during Tuesday’s Game 1 of the AL wild-card series, they saw an unfamiliar site in 2020:
The teams were allowed to play in front of family members for the first time this season. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said "about 12" players had families with them in Cleveland for the best-of-three series. Yankees family members sat in luxury suites in rightfield.
"It was cool seeing them up there," Boone said. "It felt a little raucous, honestly. With the piped-in stuff and the drum beating that you get here . . . It didn’t feel all that weird. Maybe part of that is because I’m so used to now what we’ve gone through the last couple of months."
Yankees Game 1 starter and winner Gerrit Cole got to pitch for the first time in front of his 3-month-old son, Caden, who was with his wife, Amy.
"Geez, this is the first time we got to go to the ballpark together as a family," Cole said. "It’s certainly something I’ll always remember. Never thought his first game would be in Cleveland."
Game 2 starter Masahiro Tanaka also is excited to have his family in the stands when he pitches on Wednesday night.
"Obviously, it is a big thing to have your family physically be here and watch the game," Tanaka said through a translator. "I think they play a very big role in supporting you and I think that goes for all players, including myself. [For them] to be here and root means a lot. It is a big thing.’’
Luke Voit’s wife got to see the MLB home run champion hit in person for the first time in 2020. Voit didn’t go deep, but he did have two hits and an RBI in the Yankees’ 12-3 victory.
"She is super excited," Voit said. "First one this season, so it will be good for some of the families to see us play."
As the home team, Cleveland had a larger contingent of family members scattered throughout the ballpark, mostly in luxury suites. According to Cleveland.com, the home players and staff had about 70 family members at Game 1.
"I miss the fans, especially in Cleveland," Aaron Judge said. "My favorite times are the pregame introductions. I miss those moments. But they turned up the [fake] crowd noise a little bit. The intensity was still the same."
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has said he hopes to have a limited number of paying fans at NLCS games and World Series games. Both series will take place at the Texas Rangers’ new ballpark in Arlington.
The ALCS will be played at San Diego’s Petco Park. Current California restrictions will not allow for paying fans at the ballpark.
"Having some family on the trip for guys is something that obviously provides them a little bit of support," Boone said, "and, obviously, a little bit of an escape when we are finished for the night and a distraction for a couple of hours before going to bed. Hopefully it is something that provides a little comfort for our guys.’’