Yankee Stadium, “The House that Ruth Built,” officially opened today in 1923 with the New York Yankees’ first home game against the Boston Red Sox. Now WE know em

Yankee_Stadium_1928-1936

Yankee Stadium (1928-1936)

The Yankees began playing baseball at the Polo Grounds in northern Manhattan of New York City in 1913, sharing the grounds with the New York Giants.

In January of 1915, Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston and Colonel Jacob Ruppert purchased the Yankees for $1.25 million.

Then on December 26, 1919, the Yankees acquired star slugger Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox for $100,000, the largest sum ever paid for a baseball player. The deal also involved a $350,000 loan from Jacob Ruppert to the Red Sox, secured by a mortgage on Fenway Park.

455px-Babe_Ruth2

 

In his first season with the Yankees, Babe Ruth drew 1.3 million fans to the Polo Grounds, outdrawing the Giants and adding to the harboring resentment between the two teams.

In 1921, the Yankees won their first American Leaguepennant but lost the 1921 World Series to the Giants in eight games, all played at the Polo Grounds. (see my article from October 5, 2013)

1921 World Series played at the Polo Grounds

1921 World Series played at the Polo Grounds

 

This exacerbated NY Giants owner Charles Stoneham‘s resentment of the Yankees and precipitated his insistence that the Yankees find another place to play their home games. Stoneham derisively suggested that the Yankees relocate “to Queens or some other out-of-the-way place.”

The Yankees decided instead to build their own 2.5 million dollar stadium.

When the Yankee’s owners were asked how they could justify building their own stadium with 60,000 seats, they simply invoked Babe Ruth’s name. Thus the saying “The House that Ruth Built.”

Yankee Stadium

A 10 acre lumberyard in New York City’s borough of the Bronx was selected for the new stadium and purchased for $600,000.

Construction began May 5, 1922.

The stadium’s walls were built of “an extremely hard and durable concrete that was developed by Thomas Edison.

Yankee Stadium officially opened Wednesday, April 18, 1923, with the Yankees’ first home game ironically played against the Boston Red Sox.

Opening Day 1923

Opening Day 1923

According to the New York Evening Telegram, “everything smelled of … fresh paint, fresh plaster and fresh grass.”

At 3 pm, the composer-conductor John Philip Sousa led the Seventh (“Silk-Stocking”) Regiment Band in playing The Star-Spangled Banner.

After a parade of players and dignitaries, Babe Ruth was presented with a case containing a symbolically big bat.

Babe Ruth Shaking Hands with President Warren Harding  Opening of Yankee Stadium, April 18. 1923

Babe Ruth Shaking Hands with President Warren Harding
Opening of Yankee Stadium, April 18. 1923

New York Governor Al Smith threw out the first pitch directly into the glove of catcher Wally Schang rather than the customary miss of a couple of feet wide.

The Yankees went on to defeat Babe Ruth’s former team, the Boston Red Sox, by a score of 4–1, with Ruth hitting a three-run home run into the right-field stands.

Asked later for his opinion of the stadium, Babe replied, “Some ball yard.”

The Yankees also won their first World Series during the Stadium’s inaugural season.

Yankee Stadium also became known as “The Big Ballpark in The Bronx“, “The Stadium“, and “The Cathedral of Baseball“.

The final baseball game was played in Yankee Stadium on September 21, 2008.

On November 8, 2008, former Yankees Scott Brosius, Paul O’Neill, David Cone and Jeff Nelson, all members of the 1998 World Series championship team, joined 60 children from two Bronx based youth groups Youth Force 2020 and the ACE Mentor Program in ceremoniously digging up home plate, the pitcher’s mound pitching plate (rubber) and the surrounding dirt of both areas and transporting them to comparable areas of new Yankee Stadium.

The Yankee front office staff vacated the stadium on January 23, 2009.

Demolition began in March of 2009 with the removal of the playing field.

On May 13, 2009, the process of removing seats began and was completed on June 8th.

On September 3 and 4, 2009 the iconic white facade was dismantled.

On November 4, 2009, construction workers began tearing down the outfield bleachers, marking the first major structural demolition of the old ballpark.

On November 12, demolition work began on the field level grandstand.

By the end of November, most of the grandstand and bleachers at field level were gone.

By the first week of December, demolition of the loge seats had begun.

By January of 2010, the loge level was gone and demolition began on the left field escalator bank adjacent to Gate 2.

In February 2010, demolition work began on the upper deck and the outfield wall; the final part of the outfield wall (the Continental Airlines ad, the out-of-town scoreboard, and the remaining part of the advertising panel to its right) was taken down February 24, 2010.

By March 25th, the entire upper deck was taken down.

Demolition of the original Yankee Stadium was completed on May 13, 2010.

Now WE know em

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