Not very many people know that the New York Yankees began as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901-1902. Now some 26 World Series titles later, most of the true Yankees fans probably know that, but here’s a lot of information you may not know.
1903: This was the beginning of the World Series in baseball. Ban Johnson, who at the time was the American League President wanted to establish a team in New York. The Baltimore Orioles were a struggling team (and they pretty much still are) that were purchased by Frank Farrell and Bill Devery, and taken to Manhattan with them. A ballpark was built known as Hilltop Park for obvious reasons of it sitting up on the highest parts of Manhattan. Which is also how they came about with their nickname, the Highlanders. The first game they played was on April 22nd losing to Washington 3-1. Manager Clark Griffith could not have been happier running a brand new club to a respectable 72-62 record in its first year.
1909: The last five years have been full of ups and downs, unfortunately no pennants. After finishing 51-103 in 1908, owner Bill Devery believes that something has to give, and changes need to be to turn this club around. A new design would be implemented with the NY signature. He wanted to use the same insignia as police officers who received medal of honor awards for being shot in the line of duty. To Devery’s dismay, the team finished a meager 74-77, although extremely better than the prior year.
1912: Still with no pennants to bare for the city of Manhattan, the Highlanders decide it’s time for another uniform change. The famous “pinstripes of New York” were designed and integrated into their home jerseys. This didn’t help either as the struggling Highlanders fell to 50-102 for the season.
1913: The Highlanders sign a deal to play at the Polo Grounds in 1913. Because the word “Highlanders” was so long to print, and they were often referred to by sportswriters as the Yankees, or Yanks, due to the fact that they were the American League team and British called Americans, Yanks. So with a new venue to play in, new pinstripes the year before, and now a new name, the era of the New York Yankees began. Sorely I might add, as they went 57-94 for the season.
1920: Six years goes by and nothing has amounted to anything except a couple of winning seasons but never a pennant in site. Two years prior Miller Huggins became the Yankees skipper only to come as close as third place in the division with a 80-59 record in 1919. However, the day had finally come for the Yanks. On January 3rd, five time World Series Champion and Red Sox owner Harry Frazee was looking to finance a broadway musical called, “No-No Nanette” and in order to do so he sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 and borrowed $300,000 against Fenway Park’s mortgage.
Ruth hit a single season home run record during his first season with the Yankees, belting 54 homers. He also claimed the record in 1919 with 29 homeruns which was his first full year playing. However with all the greatest surrounding the Great Bambino, the Yankees fell short of winning the pennant by only 3 games.
1921: Finally the Yankees win their first major league pennant securing a 98 game win season. Ruth drills 59 homeruns, Boston Red Sox previous manager Ed Barrow became New York’s general manager, and his first two moves was bringing pitcher Waite Hoyt and catcher Wally Schang over with him. 1921 sparked the first ever “Subway Series” as they faced the New York Giants in the World Series. What looked promising in the beginning only became a disaster later on when Babe Ruth got injured the Yanks only scored 1 run the rest of the series and eventually lost 5-3 in the best of 9 affair.
1922: Just one year after making the series the Yanks were back to try and win their first title with the sequel to the “Subway Series”. It wasn’t even close, and New York Giants won by a route humiliating the Yankees for a second straight year. Soon thereafter the Yankees were evicted from the Polo Grounds and their home for ten years would now turn to a new venue, Yankee Stadium.
1923: Which many would say “The House That Ruth Built”. They went wire-to-wire winning the division easily by 16 games, and once again having a showdown with the New York Giants and the beginning of the end of the trilogy. The Yankees struggled but came back to win the series 4-2 convincingly and solidifying themselves with their first World Series victory in history.
1924 and 1925 may not have been much of seasons due to injuries, and continuous suspensions for Babe Ruth, but the future was bright. The Yankees go 69-85 in 25′, but it would be their last losing season for forty years. It would also be the first game of Lou Gehrig consecutive games streak pinch hitting for Pee Wee Wanniger as the baseball world’s future would be cast upon New York and the Yankees. 1926 brought another pennant and trip to the World Series, that eventually fell short the the St. Louis Cardinals and Grover Alexander.
1927 arguably the greatest team ever put together in baseball: The birth of “Murder’s Row” was born to the most offensive dominating team baseball had ever seen. Ruth hit 60 home runs, the team led the league in batting average, slugging percentage, Lou Gehrig won the MVP award, four batters had over 100 runs batted in for the year, the top e.r.a. in the league, and 110 win season. This set out to be one of the easiest World Series victories as The Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates and only trailed twice in any of the four games.
After winning another World Series title in 1928 by sweeping St. Louis Cardinals where Babe Ruth hit three homeruns in the finale, 1929 brought a new tradition to life. Numbers being placed on the Yankees uniforms for permanent display was spread throughout the league. The way they were chosen was by the batting order and the first lineup blessed with numbers was:
#1 Earle Combs #2 Mark Koenig #3 Babe Ruth #4 Lou Gehrig #5 Bob Meusel #6 Tony Lazzeri #7 Leo Durocher #8 Johnny Grabowski #9 Benny Bengough #10 Bill Dickey
1929 also brought tragedy amongst the Yankees organization when skipper Miller Huggins died of blood poisoning after coaching the team for 12 seasons.
1931: Joe McCarthy becomes the new Yankees skipper.
1932 is considered by many as the most notorious event in baseball history. The Yankees swept the Chicago Cubs and added their fourth World Series title thanks in part to Lou Gehrigs accomplishments which were looked over by game three of the series. With Ruth up to bat the game tied 4-4 in the fifth inning, the Babe points his bat calling his shot, and the very next pitch soared into the centerfield bleachers.
1934: the Babe is on his last cylinders and is released by the club the following season. It would be the end of an era where The Great Bambino clubs a record 714 homeruns with his last 6 coming while he is in uniform with the Boston Braves.
Although many felt that the story of the Yankees was over with the end of Babe Ruth a new sensation was born and as Lou Gehrig continued to tear up the league, Joe Dimaggio was implementing himself into the teams storied history along with their 5th World Series in 1936. The powerful Yankees would continue to dominate the league with their 6th and 7th World Series titles in 1937 and 1938.
1939: Many were lost and distraught after Lou Gehrig missed his first game and ended his consecutive games streak at 2,130 games. It was only soon after that word was spreading that the Iron Horse was sick by an incurable neurological disease. As fans wept, Gehrig’s day would come on July 4th as the team retired #4 forever which his number would be the first to be retired by any professional sport. He would give the speech forever ringing in Yankees fans ears, and was inducted immediately in the Hall of Fame. The Yankees later won their 4th World Series in a row and 8th overall now led by MVP Joe Dimaggio.
1941 was a year that was bittersweet. Gehrig dies of his painful disease 16 years to the day that he started his consecutive games streak. As the world of major league baseball was saddened a new record would be broken as Joe Dimaggio goes 56 consecutive games with at least one base hit. The Yankees again went on to win the World Series and take home their 9th championship overall and 5th in 6 years. Then came Pearl Harbor and World War II.
With World War II amongst the United States the baseball world was forever changed as Joe Dimaggio, Phil Rizzuto, and many other Yankees were serving in the military New York’s pitching staff propelled them into absolution as the Yankees won another pennant and their 10th World Series beating the St. Louis Cardinals in 5 games.
1946: Was the first year the Yankees would play a night game at Yankee Stadium.
1947 brought another World Series victory as Joe Dimaggio and many of the others found their ways back to baseball. This would be their 11th Series victory and their 7th in a 10 year span.
1949: Casey Stengel made a name for himself and the Dynasty he was the puppet master for as in his first full season as manager for the Yankees. The team trailed the Red Sox by 12 games, however considered as one of the biggest comebacks in sports history took over first place by winning the final two games and would capture their 1st Championship under Stengel, but their 12th overall, and would only continue to grow.
1950-1953 : 4 more World Series rings would reign over the New York Yankees and new stars would come and go as the Korean War approached. Joe Dimaggio led the attack along with Phil Rizzuto, but new players (pitchers) were unbelievable. Allie Reynolds threw two no-hitters against the New York Giants in 1951, and when Whitey Ford was not in the service they were two of the star pitchers to come to the aid just when the Yankees needed them. While others were nearing the end of their careers another hero was being born in Mickey Mantle and the same year he made his debut Dimaggio retired and took his nine World Series rings with him.
Okay, I’m sure this is very interesting, but because I still have 50+ years to go I think here is a great breaking point to let you digest all the information that was just given to you. I will finish the rest in another article that will be in essence a part 2 version, lol.