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New York Yankees

Learn the history of the beloved baseball team the New York Yankees.

The Yankees have always fielded some of the highest-paid athletes in pro sports. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
The Yankees have always fielded some of the highest-paid athletes in pro sports.

The New York Yankees historically have been an all-star team. According to BaseballLibrary.com, the Yankees are considered the most successful franchise in baseball history, winning a record 22 World Series and 33 American League pennants. Originally called the New York Highlanders, the Yankee name came from sportswriters calling the American League team "Yankees" or "Yanks," based on the British referring to Americans as "Yanks."

Early History of the New York Yankees

When investors Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchased the Baltimore Orioles in 1903 for $18,000, they decided to move the franchise to New York. With a new location, came a new name: the Highlanders. The team played its contests at 10,000-seat Hilltop Park, one of the highest spots in Manhattan. With a change of scenery to the Polo Grounds in 1913, the team became the Yankees.

Perhaps one of the biggest deals in Major League Baseball history involved the Yankees and slugger George Herman "Babe" Ruth. For the sum of $100,000, the Yankees obtained Ruth from the Boston Red Sox on Dec. 26, 1919. The investment paid off: During the 1920 season, Ruth hit 54 home runs. Not only did Ruth's record surpass other players in the league, but it topped the records of all other teams, except for the Philadelphia Phillies. Ruth's stellar season lured fans back to America's pastime and made them forget about the 1919 "Black Sox Scandal," in which several Chicago White Sox players were accused of purposely losing games against the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. Ruth's popularity led to the construction of Yankee Stadium, hence its nickname "The House That Ruth Built."

Teams at Yankee Stadium

Behind Ruth's powerful swing, the Yankees padded their 1927 lineup with potent players nicknamed "Murderers' Row." Featuring a Babe Ruth-Lou Gehrig combination, the Yankees destroyed the competition, and only became more powerful once "Joltin'" Joe DiMaggio joined the team, capturing a 56-game hitting streak, which still stands today.

The 1960s saw two more heavy hitters in Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. The M&M Boys competed for the home run race in 1961. The two tied the record, which stood until 1998 when Mark McGwire broke it. Although Mantle and Maris tried hard, the Yankees weren't able to win championships as they had in the past during this period.

With renovations desperately needed, work began on Yankee Stadium in 1974 and 1975, forcing the team to play its games at Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets. Reopened for the 1976 season, the team won two World Series at Yankee Stadium in the next three years. Except for a brief time in the 1990s, the Yankees have featured winning teams ever since the renovation occurred.

New York Yankees Uniform

The interlocking NY logo made its first appearance on the Highlanders' 1909 jersey, thanks to a design created for a medal to honor a fallen police officer. Originally, the logo appeared on the cap and left sleeve of the uniform. Shortly thereafter, in 1912, which was the final season at the Hilltop, the white uniforms featured the now-famous pinstripes. Although the cap underwent many different designs early on, the solid navy cap with the NY logo became a mainstay in 1922.

Starting a tradition that carried over to other teams, the Yankees placed numbers on the back of players' jerseys in 1929. The players initially received numbers according to their position in the batting order: the first batter was number one, second batter was number two, etc. Other teams thought this was a great idea and added it to their uniforms in 1932.

With numerous all-star players adorning the roster over the years, it is no surprise that the finest Yankees have their numbers permanently retired. Some of these famous ballplayers and the years their numbers were retired include:

  • Billy Martin (#1), 1986
  • Babe Ruth (#3), 1948
  • Lou Gehrig (#4), 1939
  • Joe DiMaggio (#5), 1952
  • Mickey Mantle (#7), 1969
  • Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey (#8), 1972
  • Roger Maris (#9), 1984
  • Phil Rizzuto (#10), 1985
  • Thurman Munson (#15), 1979
  • Whitey Ford (#16), 1974
  • Don Mattingly (#23), 1997
  • Elston Howard (#32), 1984
  • Casey Stengel (#37), 1970
  • Jackie Robinson (#42), 1997
  • Reggie Jackson (#44), 1993
  • Ron Guidry (#49), 2003

Present New York Yankee Facts

The Yankees have always featured some of the highest-paid athletes. According to ESPN, the 2008 New York Yankees had the highest team salary in the league, with almost $70 million more than the next team. They also had five players earning more than $10 million in 2008.

Due to the team's successful post-season play, the team earned a new stadium home for the 2009 season. Yankee Stadium played host to its last game on Sept. 21, 2008, and later was demolished. The Yankees now play their games across the street at the new Yankee Stadium, which opened with an exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs on April 3, 2009.

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