Today in Baseball: Yankee Stadium opens its doors

Today, 97 years ago, the first official game was played at Yankee Stadium. The Boston Red Sox were beaten 4-1 thanks to a home run by Babe Ruth.

After John McGraw of the New York Giants made clear he didn’t want to Yankees to return to the Polo Grounds after the 1922 season, the Yankees had to look for a new home. After the Highlanders, the Yankees’ predecessors, left Hilltop Park in 1913, they moved into the Polo Grounds. For a long time, they were just the tenants of the Polo Grounds but after the Yankees had acquired Babe Ruth from the Red Sox, they began to outdraw the Giants, much to the disliking of John McGraw.

Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, 1923... : baseball
A packed Yankee Stadium on Opening Day 1923

Eventually, the Yankees found a place in the Bronx, just across the Harlem River, where Yankee Stadium was built in just nine months. It was the first ballpark that was called a stadium. For its time, Yankee Stadium was huge as it could host 82,000 fans. It was the first triple decked stadium. The location of the new stadium was close to their former home the Polo Grounds.

Yankee Stadium, as seen from Polo Grounds. | Sporting News
The Polo Grounds with Yankee Stadium in the background. 

Babe Ruth christened the stadium with a home run to right field. The short right field was designed for the left-handed Ruth especially. Ruth would not be the only former Red Sox player on the Yankees roster. Cash strapped Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold many of his stars of which several to the Yankees. Joe Dugan, Everett Scott, Wally Schang, “Bullet” Joe Bush, Herb Pennock, Sad Sam Jones, Waite Hoyt, Carl Mays, Elmer Smith, and Mike McNally were all former Red Sox players that were traded or sold to the Bronx Bombers.

The construction of Yankee Stadium cost $2.4 million ($345 million in 2019 dollars) and was paid for by Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert.

After the Yankees won their first World Series in that year, the stadium would see another 19 championships before the 1974-1975 renovations.

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