One hundred years ago this day the new home of the New York Yankees opened on 161st in the Bronx. The Yankeess who had previously played in the Polo Grounds, sharing the facility with the National League New York Giants, were asked to leave following the 1922 season. It was for the better since the two teams were becoming intense rivals having squared off in the 1921 and 1922 World Series. Both were won by the Giants. The new ballpark which cost $2.5 million would be called Yankee Stadium and soon earn the nickname “The House That Ruth Built”.
April 18, 1923 was the season opener for New York against the Boston Red Sox, the Babe’s former team. According to the Chicago Tribune reporting on the event, “governors, generals, politicians, and baseball officials gathered solemnly today to dedicate the biggest stadium in baseball. But it was a player who did the real dedicating. In the third inning, with two teammates on base, Babe Ruth smashed a savage home run into the rightfield bleachers, and that was the real baptism of the new Yankee Stadium.” The Yankees went on to easily defeat Boston 4-1.
The Stadium would remain on that location for 86 years hosting 39 American League Pennants for the Yankees and 26 Yankee World Championships until it was demolished for the New Yankee Stadium which opened in 2009. Ruth would go on to hit 258 more Yankee Stadium home runs, only Mickey Mantle who played for 18 years in New York hit more.
On a personal note: I attended Yankee Stadium many, many times; as a kid with my father and brothers, as a teenager with my buddies and as an adult with my family. Some of the trips are loosely portrayed in my novel Mickey Mantle’s Last Home Run. In those scenes in my book, I routinely referred to Yankee Stadium as The Stadium, “stadium” always capitalized. This gave my editor fits. In my neck of the woods here in northern New Jersey going to a Yankee game could commonly be expressed by saying going to The Stadium. We all knew that meant Yankee Stadium. Sure, Shea Stadium was around but The Stadium could only mean Yankee Stadium. As happened far too often, my editor won out, explaining that if I wanted to appeal to a larger audience, clarity would be best, and Yankee Stadium would be Yankee Stadium not The Stadium in my book. For the most part I accepted my editor’s suggestions and my book benefited from it, but to me, to this day, Yankee Stadium will always be “The Stadium”.
References: The Yankee Encyclopedia by Mark Gallagher and Walter LeConte
New York Yankees Season of Glory by William Hageman and Warren Wilbert