NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The New York Yankees welcomed back fans for the team's Opening Day tilt with the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday, and along with limited capacity came a message from President Joe Biden urging safety.
"People have to be responsible they have to continue to wear a mask when they're around someone," Biden said. "Some people think they're being tough guys not wearing mask. Well guess what, they're hurting themselves and other people. You have a patriotic duty to protect the people around you. By the time we get in the fall, hopefully things are moving. I don't think early in the baseball season it's going happen though."
Ace Gerrit Cole was on the mound for the Bronx bombers at the first home opener with fans since 2019.
He racked up eight strikeouts over 5 and 1/3 innings pitched, but he gave up two critical runs including a solo home run to Teoscar Hernandez.
After shortstop Gleyber Torres singled in the second, catcher Gary Sanchez gave the Yankees the lead with a two-run home run in the second inning.
Hernandez home run tied it in the sixth inning and then in the 10th inning Blue Jays outfielder Randall Grichuk doubled to deep right field to score pinch runner Jonathan Davis.
The Yankees lost the opener 3-2.
In preparation for the game, the team worked closely with the state, city, Major League Baseball, and other health and safety experts to utilize the best and most responsible practices in the facility.
The club says they are prioritizing health and safety while adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines and protocols.
Yankee Stadium is operating at 20% capacity to start the season, and guests will be seated in "pods" separated by empty seats.
COVID-related signage is posted throughout the building, including on hundreds of TVs on all concourse levels. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be located in all publicly trafficked locations.
All fans must either have a negative PCR test within the last 72 hours or be fully vaccinated, and everyone had to undergo a temperature check at the gate.
Officials say Yankee Stadium will continue to operate as a vaccination center for Bronx residents through at least April 30. The site began operation on February 5 and was established through a partnership between New York State, New York City, the New York Yankees, SOMOS Community Care, and the New York National Guard.
The vaccination site is open from 8 a.m. to noon on the mornings of night games, and from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. on all days when the team is on the road or idle.
The only dates through April 30 when the stadium site will not administer vaccines are those with scheduled home day games for the Yankees (4/1, 3, 4, 17, 18) or NYCFC (4/24).
As appointments become available (for qualifying Bronx residents only), they may be scheduled by visiting SomosVaccinations.com.
Fans should visit Yankees.com/updates for all need-to-know information prior to coming to Yankee Stadium, including policies related to entrance requirements (including testing/vaccine verification prior to entry, mask usage and social-distancing guidelines) and permitted activities while at the game.
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