Brian Behrens, 51, of Huntington enjoys opening day at Yankee...

Brian Behrens, 51, of Huntington enjoys opening day at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees defeated the Angels, 7-5. (April 13, 2010) Credit: Newsday/Keith Herbert

With the Yankees' defeat of the Angels 7-5, and the receipt of their World Series rings before the game, things went flawlessly Tuesday for John Colletti Sr. and his son, John Jr.

"What's not to like about the Yankees winning a game," Colletti, 44, said. "It's a little history. It's the first time the Yankees have opened a new stadium after winning a World Series.

"It brings back memories when I was his age," Colletti said, referring to his son.

John Jr., 10, said he liked watching Derek Jeter hit and Nick Johnson hit home runs. On opening day, John Jr. said, it's the start of "watching a million games."

A cloudy sky and moderate temperatures greeted fans in the South Bronx, where a banner signifying last year's World Series win was hung before play began, and World Series rings were handed out to players.

Brian Behrens, 51, of Huntington, said that Tuesday at Yankee Stadium brought back a lot of memories of last season even though it was opening day.

"Having been here last year when they won the World Series, it meant a lot to come here and see them put up the banner," Behrens said. "The fact that they won today is cool."

But opening day also brought back memories of when his father took him to an opening day to watch Red Sox great Carl Yastrzemski. Behrens and the same group of friends have gone to opening day at Yankee Stadium for at least the past six years.

"It has meaning that way as well," Behrens said.

Glancing across the street at the pile of rubble that used to be the old Yankee Stadium, Behrens called it "disconcerting" to see the former arena nearly demolished.

"It brings back memories," he said.

Mike Maher, 44, of Union County, N.J., took his son, Sean, 7, to Tuesday's game.

"It's something my dad did with me growing up, so it's great," Maher said. "This is our first opening day."

Sean's first experience visiting Yankee Stadium was last year, but opening day was something special, his father said. "I heard him talking to his little stuffed R2-D2 doll, telling him all about it, that he's going to Yankee Stadium and it's opening day."

Mike Diletto, 29, of Essex County, N.J., was at opening day with his friend, Jim Romano, 25, an accountant from Morris County, N.J. Both took the day off.

"We haven't missed an opening day since we were teenagers," Diletto, a used-car salesman, said. "It's like a tradition."

Attending opening day 2010 seemed like the final act of celebrating the Yankees' 27th World Series title, won last fall when they beat the Philadelphia Phillies, Romano said.

"I only cared about the ring ceremony," Romano said. "I think I speak for all fans. I don't think the game was so important as being here for the ceremony."

Diletto agreed, saying that April games aren't that important.

"Boston can have April," he said. "We'll take October."

Suzannah Gillette, 32, of the Bronx, who works for a nonprofit housing agency, said opening day means the Yankees begin a quest to add another World Series banner to their new stadium.

"It's starting a new season, and hopefully, a repeat of last year, she said. "I'm also happy the new parks are opening up. . . . We waited a long time. People around here need a lot of space. It's a dense neighborhood."

Opening day was both a homecoming and a family event for Eric Cruz, 27, who attended the game with his grandfather, Victor Cruz, 70, formerly a security worker at the old Yankee Stadium. They made the trip from Toms River, N.J.

"We got a call late last night from some friend who had two extra tickets," Eric Cruz said. "I couldn't think of a better person to bring to the game than my grandfather."

Victor Cruz said opening day makes him feel like he's inside playing the game with the professionals.

"I love baseball," he said.

"I don't think there's anything better than coming out here and watching them raise up another flag up."

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