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87-year-old Toms River man builds Yankee Stadium replica with 75,000 matchsticks

 

Model takes four years to build; survives Sandy for trip to real stadiumYankee Stadium made from matchsticks

Yankee Stadium made from matchsticks: Match stick Yankee Stadium made by Toms River man survives Sandy and goes to the Bronx

TOMS RIVER — You’ve heard of “The House That Ruth Built”? Now there’s the house that Bill Becker built. And they both are Yankee Stadium.

Becker, 87, of Toms River, is a master builder of models made of matchsticks. Perhaps his greatest triumph to date is the massive replica he has built of the original Yankee Stadium — 75,000 matchsticks strong — using photographs, memory and a lot of Elmer’s glue.

It took four years to build.

Becker’s masterpiece is one of only a few items in his Toms River home that was not washed under by floodwaters during superstorm Sandy. And now he is getting recognition for his work.Bill Becker, 87, of Toms River built a replica of Yankee Stadium out of 75,000 matchsticks. It was on display in the Bronx last week and will be exhibited at the Yogi Berra Museum in Montclair next.

“For once in his life, my grandfather is speechless,” said Kelly Herrington, 37, of Suffolk, Va., who with her cousin Sara Becker mounted a massive social media and email campaign to make her grandfather’s dream come true — to get his model to the real Yankee Stadium.

Last week Bill Becker, known among family members as Brother Beans; his matchstick stadium; and two busloads of relatives traveled to the real thing: the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Becker’s tale will be told on the YES Network, which filmed the story for a pregame show to air at 6:30 p.m. today.

“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe how the fans came up and wanted to take pictures with me,” Becker said of his trip to Yankee Stadium. “I was very surprised the Yankees wanted it. I couldn’t believe how nice they were to me.”

Among the many matchstick structures Becker has built over the years is one of Lambeau Field, the fabled NFL stadium in Green Bay, Wis., where the Packers play. He has built dollhouses for his granddaughters, a matchstick manger and a Christmas train. His Lambeau Field was on display at the Vince Lombardi Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1975 and 1976. Lombardi brought prominence to the Packers as the team’s head coach in the 1960s.

A dream come true

Becker’s matchstick Yankee Stadium was on display behind Plexiglas for three days last week in the real stadium’s 200 level near the press box.

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