The house that Ruth built

Michael Bushnell
Publisher


The original Yankee Stadium opened on April 18, 1923 and true to form, the first home run recorded in the Yankee’s new digs was hit by none other than George Herman “Babe” Ruth.


In a post-game interview he stated for the record: “I was glad to have hit the first home run in this park. God only knows who will hit the last.”


That player turned out to be Yankees backup catcher Jose Molina who smacked a two-run homer against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 21, 2008, during the final game played in what had become known as “the cathedral of baseball.”


During its 86 years, Yankee Stadium hosted 6,581 regular season home games for the Yankees. Only four Major League stadiums – Fenway, Wrigley, Sportsman’s Park and Tiger Stadium – have hosted more regular season games. In total, roughly 100 World Series games have been played there.

Old Yankee Stadium was built between 1922 and 1923, the entire $2.4 million dollar construction cost was financed by Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert. For the 10 years prior to its construction, the Yankees shared the old Polo Grounds with the New York Giants. At the time of its opening in 1923 it was hailed as a one-of-a-kind venue.


Of the 17 World Series wins recorded in Yankee Stadium, nine of them were clinched by the boys in pinstripes and seven by their opponents, most notably the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955. It was the only championship won by the Dodgers prior to the 1957 move to Los Angeles. In 1957 the Milwaukee Braves won the series, the only championship won by a Milwaukee team.


In terms of “round trippers” hit at Yankee Stadium, the Palace of Pin Stripes stands on hallowed ground. Babe Ruth set the single season home run record in Yankee Stadium in 1927, recording 60 for the season. That record was broken by Roger Maris on the final day of the 1961 season when he notched his 61st home run of the season. Yankee great Mickey Mantle slugged his 500th home run in Yankee Stadium in 1967. In 1983, the Kansas City Royals visited Yankee Stadium a number of times but most notably, on July 24, 1983 when a George Brett home run was overturned by the umpire Tim McClenllan for having too much pine tar on the bat. The resulting fracas cost the Royals the game by a 4-3 margin.


By 2006, the old ball park was badly showing its age. Construction was commenced on a new Yankee Stadium in the public parkland directly across 163rd street from the old stadium. Many of the design hallmarks of the old Yankee stadium were included in the new construction including the frieze along the roof of the old stadium. The Hall of Fame where prominent former Yankees were honored was also relocated to the new venue. The old Yankee Stadium closed after the 2008 season, recording 85 seasons in the House that Ruth built. It was demolished in 2010 and a new ball park, Heritage Field now occupies the site.

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