NEW YORK (AP) - Wearing a navy blue New York Yankees shirt, Jonathan Freedman lined up with other fans outside Gate 2 on Jerome Avenue and East 164th Street. Once he reached the front of the single-file line, he emptied his pockets into a plastic bin and was ushered through a metal detector.
Welcome to Yankee Stadium, where security measures now resemble those at the airport. And starting next season, that will be the case at every ballpark in the big leagues.
As part of Major League Baseball’s security plan, metal detectors were added at some Yankee Stadium gates beginning Tuesday night, when New York hosted the Houston Astros. MLB has been working with the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate safety procedures, and all 30 big league parks will have metal detectors by opening day 2015.
The Yankees tried to prepare fans for the change, announcing last Friday they would start implementing the new system on this homestand. It will remain in place for the rest of the season.
Other stadiums have already put the metal detectors in place, too.
“I’m currently living abroad in Israel, so I’m very proud that they have security here. It’s been needed for a long time,” the 30-year-old Freedman said. “It took a half a second. It was really fast and thorough and they were very courteous. … All professional. It was all well done.”
Fans were asked to take cellphones and large metal objects out of their pockets before walking through the detectors to enter the ballpark. Those who didn’t want to pass through the detectors could choose to be checked by security personnel with a hand-held device.
“It wasn’t that terrible,” said Matt Lurin, 48. “I think in the past when we used to have to take our hats off and show nothing was underside, and take our stuff out of the pockets, it was the same thing. You’re less leaving this to chance now. You have a place to put your metal items. They slid it right by and we walked through. It was no problem.”
But what about when it’s a sellout crowd for a playoff game? Could delays become aggravating?
“I think it’ll be fine. I used to find it strange when they asked me to take my wallet out, and I really don’t feel comfortable taking my wallet out in the middle of the Bronx for no reason,” Lurin said. “Now they give me a little thing, I put it right in, and it slides right over. It’s on the table and I can see what’s going on. It seems fine.”
About 30 minutes before the first pitch, the line was moving quickly and few fans were grumbling.
At least not out loud.
“It’s frustrating when you see the door 5 feet away and they’re making you wait to go through, but other than that I haven’t heard any complaints,” Lurin said.
One security guard, however, mentioned that fans kept forgetting their bags, keys, wallets or phones in the bins as they headed toward the turnstiles after passing through the metal detector.
It happened so often that a guard was stationed on the other side of the detector just to remind fans to retrieve their personal belongings.
“You’ve got to expect the unexpected living in New York,” said 36-year-old Tony Rivera, who resides in Chicago. “I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
AP freelance writer Scott Orgera contributed to this report.
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