SUNBLOCKHEADS AT THE STADIUM
By JEREMY OLSHAN and REBECCA ROSENBERG
July 22, 2008
-- Ladies and gentlemen, The Bronx is sunburning.
Yankee fans are seeing - and turning - red over a ban on sunscreen, which Stadium security guards say was widely expanded in the last few weeks.
Security guards collected garbage bags full of sunblock at the entrances to Yankee Stadium over the sweltering weekend, when temps hit 96 degrees and the UV index reached a skin-scorching 9 out of 10 - a move team officials said was to protect the Stadium from terrorism.
But fans baking in the bleachers and upper deck argued that the sun may be a bigger threat than Osama bin Laden.
"I was really pissed because, since I am Irish and I have a bald head, I need my sunblock," said Sean Gavin, 40, who had to toss his SPF 30 at the gate Saturday.
"After they saw me dousing myself with it, it should have been obvious to them that it was sunblock and not some explosive."
The team contends that sunscreen has long been on the list of stadium contraband, but there is no mention of it on the Yankee Web site.
Four weeks ago, Stadium officials decided that sunscreen of all sizes and varieties would not be permitted, a security supervisor told The Post before last night's game.
"There have been a lot of complaints," he said. "We tell them to apply once and then throw it out."
For fans who bring babies or young children to cheer on the home team, the guard had suggested they "beg" to take the sunblock in.
Seeing the giant bag full of confiscated sunscreen Saturday, one steaming Yankee fan asked whether he could take one of the tubes and apply it before heading into the park.
"Absolutely not," the guard told him. "What if you get a rash? You might sue the Yankees."
Fans said the team seems more concerned with catching the Tampa Bay Rays than ensuring their fans don't catch UV rays.
"Five hours in the upper deck with no sunscreen is crazy," season-ticket holder Dan McCourt said.
The Stadium does sell 1-ounce bottles of Arizona Sun SPF 15 for $5 - a huge markup that makes its beer seem cheap.
Dermatologists said that, security concerns or not, leaving 56,000 fans unprotected from potential skin cancer is "very dangerous."
"This is especially bad for children, as their younger skin is particularly sensitive," said Dr. Babar Rao, a specialist at the Skin and Cancer Center of New York. "Sunblock needs to be reapplied every two hours, even if you are not swimming in the ocean or pool."
Major League Baseball even has a skin-cancer prevention program called "Play Sun Smart."
An hour after being asked about the sunscreen ban, Yankee spokesman Jason Zillo told The Post that the rules would be changed to permit 3-ounce containers.