Opening of Original Yankee Stadium

U.S. #3513 from the Baseball’s Legendary Playing Fields issue.

On April 18, 1923, the Yankees played their first game in “The House that Ruth Built.”

The New York Yankees trace their roots back to 1901. They were one of several teams created in the American League to challenge the National League. Though the team’s creators wanted to be based in New York, the National League’s New York Giants had strong political connections that prevented that from happening. So instead, the new team was stationed in Baltimore, Maryland, and called the Orioles.

Then in 1903 the team found a way to move to New York. So they opened Hilltop Park and became known as the Highlanders. It was during this era that the team was first unofficially referred to as the Yankees.

U.S. #3514 – The NY Giants played at the Polo Grounds until 1957, after which they moved to San Francisco.

Then in 1911 the Giants’ stadium, the Polo Grounds, burned down, and they were invited to play at Hilltop Park while their park was being rebuilt. Relations between the two teams improved and the Highlanders were then allowed to play at the Polo Grounds. Because they were no longer based at Hilltop Park, the team adopted their nickname as their official name, becoming the New York Yankees.

U.S. #3513 FDC – 2001 Yankee Stadium First Day Cover.

Relations between the two teams then began to falter in 1920 after the Yankees acquired Babe Ruth. Soon more fans came out to see the Yankees than the Giants. Then the Giants told the Yankees to find their own park. So the Yankee’s owners agreed and decided to build their own stadium. They considered several possible sites, including one in Manhattan, but ultimately decided on a 10-acre lumberyard in the Bronx. Commenting on their new location, the Giants’ manager claimed that, “Before long they will be lost sight of. A New York team should be based on Manhattan Island.”

U.S. #2046 was issued in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the All-Star Game.

The owners paid $600,000 (about $8.58 million today) for the land and $2.5 million ($120 million) for the stadium itself. The owners also took a risk in the stadium’s size. Most baseball parks from the era seated about 30,000 people. But they believed that Ruth’s popularity would draw far more than that, and opted for a 60,000-seat park. Construction began on May 5, 1922 and would be completed in less than a year. The stadium’s walls were reportedly built from a durable concrete developed by Thomas Edison.

Yankee Stadium officially opened for business on April 18, 1923. That day would be their first home game of the season against the Boston Red Sox. Before the game began, John Philip Sousa led the Seventh Regiment Band down the field while playing The Star-Spangled Banner. The players and several dignitaries then paraded across the field before Babe Ruth was presented with an oversized bat. New York Governor Al Smith threw out the ceremonial first pitch and then the game began about 3:35 pm.

Item #M11853 was never authorized for use by the Comoro Islands and has been declared illegal!

In the bottom of the third inning, Babe Ruth hit a three-run home run, the first in the new stadium. The New York Times described it as “a savage home run that was the real baptism of Yankee Stadium.” The Yankees went on to win the game 4 to 1.

Item #M11855 was also declared illegal.

Initially, it was claimed that there were 74,217 people in attendance for that first game, but it was later revealed to be 60,000. Additionally, 25,000 people were turned away because there wasn’t room, but many remained outside the stadium to listen to the game. The New York Evening Telegram was the first called the new stadium “The House that Ruth Built” in its coverage of that first game. The Yankees went on to win their first World Series later in the year against their rivals, the Giants.

Click here for a neat video about Yankee Stadium

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. I was a Red Sox’s fan, myself, but a number of great players came out of that stadium. The “Babe” was one of many. Stamps were available but Baseball gum and the cards within were the rage when I was young.

    1. Mine too. I’d be a millionaire if I’d kept all the cards that ultimately turned out to be worth a lot of money years later.

  2. I was a yankee fan for years. In thirties there were so many great players. In nineties I got to go to
    go to Yankee Stadium to a ballgame and they were playing Kansas City. When Joe Gordon retired
    he came back to Eugene, Or he had a sporting store and I was going to UofO I bought baseball supplies for our home town baseball team. He was grea guyt to visit and make a friend

  3. Nice to see and relive the early stadiums when fans went to games to actually see baseball; today new stadiums are built more for general entertainment with features that distract from the game, due to the short attemtion span of current day fans.

  4. I have been a Yankee fan for all of my life … because my yet-to-be a father was in NYC in the early thirties for 5 years and saw almost every home game the Yankees played then and LOVED ‘um !! He got me into their support soon after after WW II when I was about 11 and the baseball seasons re-started. Mystic, I cannot thank you enough for this great informing-essay and the details about the first year that the Yankee Stadium was opened. The videos I just watched were also fantastic, great and updating! My Dad WOULD HAVE LOVED this article, the attachments and photos of great Yankees he watched play in a LOT of home games, and details that would definitely have brought-back memories to him about the Yankees during his five years in NYC in the early thirties. Thank you SO MUCH !!!

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