New York Sports Franchises: New York Yankees

NEW YORK YANKEES

World Series Championships: 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1977, 1978, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009 (27)

Retired Numbers: #1 Billy Martin, #3 Babe Ruth, #4 Lou Gehrig, #5 Joe DiMaggio, #7 Mickey Mantle, #8 Bill Dickey, #8 Yogi Berra, #9 Roger Maris, #10 Phil Rizzuto, #15 Thurman Munson, #16 Whitey Ford, #23 Don Mattingly, #32 Elston Howard, #37 Casey Stengel, #44 Reggie Jackson #49 Ron Guidry, #42 Jackie Robinson (retired league-wide)

Rivals: Boston Red Sox, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, New York/San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles

The team that is now known as the New York Yankees originally began in the late 1800’s in Minneapolis, in the minor Western League. Then, in 1899, the Baltimore franchise in the National League was dissolved. The Minneapolis team decided to move to Baltimore, where they became the Orioles. They won their first home game in 1901, beating Boston 10-6 at Orioles Park. Shortly after, the Western League became the American League and achieved major league status. It didn’t take long for the new league to start competing with the long-established National League.

The team played in Baltimore for two years. Then, in 1903, the team was purchased by Frank Farrell and Bill Devery. They wanted to move the team to New York City, which they figured was a more lucrative market than Baltimore. As their home field, an all-wood park was built at 168th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. The site just happened to be one of the highest spots in the city. From this, the club became known as the New York Highlanders, and their park was named Hilltop Park.

Their first game on April 22, 1903, was a 1-3 loss at Washington. Their first home game came on May 1 of that same year. The game also happened to be against Washington. This time, however, the Highlanders came away with a 6-2 win. It was around this time, on April 11, 1912, that pinstripes became part of the Highlanders’ uniforms. This created what would become one of the most famous uniform designs in professional sports history. The New York Highlanders enjoyed a few brief moments of success. They finished in second place in the American League in 1904 and 1910. Despite these brief moments, the Highlanders spent most of the 1900’s and 1910’s in the basement of the American League. In 1913, the team was moved to the Polo Grounds, where the National League’s Giants played their home games. That’s when the team officially changed their name to the New York Yankees.

The New York Yankees began to acquire a number of players who would later contribute to their major success. These players mostly came from the Boston Red Sox, whose owner, Harry Frazee, was unwilling to pay high salaries to his players, despite the fact that they had won four World Series titles in the 1910’s. Among the players acquired by the Yankees were pitchers Carl Mays, Bob Shawkey and Herb Pennock, catcher Wally Schang and perhaps, most notably, pitcher-turned-outfielder, George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Along with their manager, Miller Huggins, the team enjoyed their first period of major success. They won six American League Championships and three World Series Championships during the decade. The 1927 team, which featured the offensive combination of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, is considered by some to be the best team ever assembled in the history of professional baseball.

In the 1930’s, Joe McCarthy took over the management duties of the New York Yankees. This was the post-Babe Ruth era. The Yankees were led by Gehrig, along with new stars such as Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing. Under the leadership of McCarthy, the team won four straight World Series titles from 1936 to 1939, making the 1930’s one of the most successful decades in New York Yankees history.

Later, in the 1950’s, Casey Stengel took over as the manager of the New York Yankees. Stengel’s team, which was led by catcher Yogi Berra, outfielder Mickey Mantle and pitcher Whitey Ford, won the World Series five times in his first five years of management, from 1949-1953. Overall, in twelve years, Stengel’s team won 10 pennants and seven World Series titles. Unlike the star-studded teams of the McCarthy era, the New York Yankees of the 1950’s were successful due to Stengel’s use of platooning and his ability to get the most out of average or slightly above-average players.

The New York Yankees came up for sale after the 1964 season. Dan Topping and Del Webb sold the team to CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) for $11.2 million. Topping and Webb owned the Yankees for 20 years, missing the World Series only five times, with a World Series record of 10-5. Then, in 1973, CBS sold the New York Yankees to George Steinbrenner for $10 million. Steinbrenner immediately went to work and renovated Yankee Stadium. He hired and fired his manager, Billy Martin, a number of times. He also feuded with the Yankees’ star outfielder, Reggie Jackson. Despite the feuding, Steinbrenner led a resurgence of the New York Yankees in the late 1970’s. However, Reggie Jackson’s three home runs in one game in the 1977 World Series (earning him the nickname “Mr. October”) defined the era as much as the leadership of Martin and Steinbrenner.

During the 1980’s, the Yankees enjoyed limited success. During that time, in 1983, Dave Righetti pitched only the sixth regular season no-hitter in the history of the franchise. Also in 1983, the Yankees and the Kansas City Royals played in the infamous “pine tar” game at Yankee Stadium. During that game, George Brett hit a two-out, ninth-inning home run to give the Royals an apparent 5-4 lead. However, the umpires nullified the home run because Brett had too much pine tar on his bat. The tar on Brett’s bat measured more than 18 inches, which was the allowable amount. Brett was called out for using an illegal bat and the Yankees went on to win, 4-3. This, however, is not where the story ends. After a protest from the Kansas City Royals, the game concluded and the Royals won, 5-4. Then, in 1985, Billy Martin was named the manager of the Yankees for the fourth time, replacing Yogi Berra. However, this stint did not last long. Later in that same year, Lou Piniella replaced Billy Martin once again. Later, in 1989, Billy Martin died in an automobile accident at the age of 61.

The New York Yankees entered the 1990’s as a last-placed team. Yankee pitcher Andy Hawkins became the first pitcher ever to lose a game in which he pitched a no-hitter. Hawkins walked three men to load the bases. The centerfielder then committed an error with the bases loaded. The error scored all three men on base as well as the batter, losing the game for Hawkins. All of the bad luck of the 1980’s and early 1990’s started to disappear under manager Buck Showalter. However, due to his personality clashes with Steinbrenner, Showalter left the club after the1995 season, in which the team reached the postseason for the first time in 14 years. His replacement was Joe Torre. Torre immediately led the Yankees to the World Series victory in 1996.

In 2001, the New York Yankees once again found themselves in a familiar place, the World Series. This time, however, they would lose to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Then, once again in 2003, the Yankees returned to the World Series, this time losing to the Florida Marlins, four games to two.

In 2004, the Yankees acquired Alex Rodriguez, who moved to third base from his usual shortstop position to accommodate Derek Jeter. In the ALCS, the Yankees met the Red Sox once again, and became the first team in professional baseball history to lose a best-of-seven series after taking a 3-0 series lead. In the following season, A-Rod won the AL MVP, becoming the first Yankee to do so since Don Mattingly in 1985. New York again won the AL East by virtue of a tiebreaker, but lost the ALDS to the Angels in five games. In the 2006 season was highlighted by a 5 game series sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway, outscoring Boston 49-26. Despite winning the AL East for the ninth consecutive year, the Yanks lost again in the ALDS, this time to the Detroit Tigers.

The Yankees’ streak of nine straight AL East division titles ended in 2007, but they still reached the playoffs with a Wild Card berth. For the third year in a row, the team lost in the first round of the playoffs, this time falling to the Cleveland Indians. After the close of the season, Torre declined a reduced-length and compensation offer from the Yankees, and returned to the NL as manager of the Dodgers. The Yankees then signed former New York catcher Joe Girardi to a three-year contract to manage the ball club.

The 2008 season was the last season played at historic Yankee Stadium. To celebrate the final year and history of Yankee Stadium, the 2008 All-Star Game was played there in July 2008.

During the off-season prior to the 2009 season, the team retooled their roster with several star free agents. At the beginning of the 2009 season, the Yanks opened the new Yankee Stadium, and set a major league record by playing error-free baseball for 18 consecutive games from May 14 to June 1, 2009. After the All-Star break, the Yankees went on to have a 52-22 record, good enough for first in the AL East. Defeating the Twins in a sweep in the ALDS, New York went on to the ALCS, where they ousted the Angels in six games. They went on to clinch their 27th World Series title against the defending champion Phillies in six games.

The 2010 season was one marked by two Yankee icons passing over the course of the All-Star break, first longtime P.A. announcer Bob Sheppard, and two days later, principal owner George Steinbrenner. The Yankees won the Wild Card berth, and again swept the Twins in the ALDS, before losing in the ALCS to the Rangers in six games.

This is a club that knows success. So with the 2011 season now in full swing, can the storied franchise continue to further their legacy of greatness? Stay tuned for more this week!

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About Home Field Advantage
We are two senior Sports Communication majors at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. We have launched this blog as part of our senior year capping project, with the goal of creating a comparative analysis and multimedia approach to the differing sports cultures in America.

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