Instead of taking a packed No. 4 subway to Yankees stadium, baseball fans and train enthusiasts enjoyed a very special commute Tuesday morning.
A 1917 MTA New York City Transit vintage train pulled into Grand Central Station at 11:35 a.m. to cheering straphangers headed to the Yankees season opening game. Since 2008, the MTA and the New York Transit Museum have offered vintage train rides on the season opener for the Yankees and Mets and during the holidays.
Patrons pay the same fare, but their ride harkens back to a simpler time. “As a little boy I rode this exact train to school and church,” said Queens native Fred C., who preferred not to use his last name. ”My parents would be overjoyed to see me riding this train again as an adult.”
Fred was one of several train enthusiasts who waited anxiously on the yellow caution strip, holding cameras and video recorders running to catch the precious moments as the fatigue green train approached the station.
Baseball fans and train collectors poured into the four-car train, complete with red floors, straw seats, exposed 36-watt light bulbs, metal ceiling fans and retro ads. The ads varied from men’s shaving cream to cleaning products. The connecting doors remained open allowing riders to visit each of the cars.
“During the summer we would unlock the latches to open the window and heavy dust would build up on the fans,” said Fred. He chuckled when describing how the train conductors would sometimes forget to change the destination signs.
The ride also brought Harry Malakoff back to his youth. “At ten years old I remember walking off this train to the Yankee game and seeing grass for the first time.”
Joe Troiano of Nassau County loves the Mets but didn’t want to miss the opportunity for a vintage ride to Yankees Stadium. “I collect trains,” he said. “In the 2000 World Series I took my kids to see the MTA pinstripe trains.”
The vintage cars were made in 1917 to 1924 and were produced in Berwick, Pennsylvania by American Car and Foundry Company. “Retired MTA workers volunteer their time to help preserve and conduct the train for these events,” said Frankie Perez an MTA employee. The train provided one non-stop trip to the 161st Yankee Stadium station.
For anyone that missed the one-way only, non-stop trip to the stadium the low voltage cars are typically on display at the New York Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn and will be available for a ride for the opening Mets game.