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Yankee Stadium

By Wikipedia

Yankee Stadium is the home stadium of the New York Yankees, a major league baseball team. Located at East 161st Street and River Avenue in the Bronx, New York City, it originally opened on April 18, 1923 and reopened on April 15, 1976 after an extensive three year renovation. The first night game was played on May 28, 1946.

At a glance...
Facility statistics
Location 161st Street & River Ave.
Bronx, New York 10451
Broke ground 1922
Opened April 18, 1923
Replaced Polo Grounds
Owner Yankees (1923-1971)
City of New York (1971-)
Surface Merion Bluegrass
$2.5M (1923)
$48M (1975-76
Architect Osborn Engineering (1923);
Praeger, Kavanaugh
& Waterbury (1974)
Yankees (MLB, 1923-1973, 1976-)
Giants (NFL, 1956-1973)
Seating capacity
58,000 (1923) 62,000 (1926) 82,000 (1927)
67,113 (1928) 62,000 (1929) 71,699 (1937)
70,000 (1942) 67,000 (1948) 67,205 (1958)
67,337 (1961) 67,000 (1965) 65,010 (1971)
54,028 (1976) 57,145 (1977) 57,545 (1980)
Left Field - 280 ft
Left-Center - 395 ft
Center Field - 490 ft
Right-Center - 429 ft
Right Field - 295 ft

Left Field - 318 ft
Left-Center - 399 ft
Center Field - 408 ft
Right-Center - 385 ft
Right Field - 314 ft

Backstop - 82 (1942), 80 (1953), 84 (1976)
Foul territory: Small down the lines,
large behind catcher

Yankee Stadium is often referred to as "The House that Ruth Built", "The Home of Champions," "The Big Ballpark," or simply "The Stadium". It was the first baseball arena to be labeled a "Stadium", and it conformed to the usage of the term in ancient Greece, where a stadium was a foot-race arena. Yankee Stadium's field was initially surrounded by a (misshapen) quarter-mile running track. That track effectively also served as an early "warning track" for fielders, a feature now standard in all major league ballparks.

Yankee Stadium favors left-handed batters because of a shorter right-field fence (once called "Ruthville"), although the field has become much more symmetric over the years. In contrast, it has been a very difficult park for right-handed batters to hit in. Under the original configuration, it was 395-feet from home plate to left field, 460 ft to left center, and 490 ft to straightaway center. Left center soon came to be called "Death Valley," in reference to the high number of balls hit to that area that would have cleared the wall easily in other parks but resulted in simple fly ball outs in Yankee Stadium. Although the fence has been moved in several times over the years to make it more hitter friendly (it is currently 399 feet to left center and 408 to center), the park remains one of the most difficult for right-handed hitters, as evidenced by the fact that in 2005, Alex Rodriguez became the first right-handed Yankee hitter to hit 40 home runs in a season since 1937, when Joe DiMaggio belted 46.

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A story that has become somewhat of an urban legend purports that the stadium's design was tailored to fit the left-handed power exhibited by Babe Ruth. However, a look at aerial photographs of the area shows that the stadium is built on a triangular plot of land originally owned by one of the Yankee owners, and that the stadium, like many other parks of that era and many newer "retro" parks, was fit into that plot. Additionally, an elevated train line still runs beyond the right field bleachers, and was present when the stadium was first built. Making the right field area larger would have necessitated eliminating seating and possibly building a high "Green Monster"-like wall.

A good depiction of the atmosphere of the pre-renovation stadium can be seen in the latter scenes of the 1959 Mervyn LeRoy film The FBI Story, which starred James Stewart. In these scenes, FBI agents tracked a suspected Soviet espionage courier. These scenes show the arrival of an elevated train at the station near the right field bleachers, football action and crowd scenes and reaction during a New York Giants game, groups of people waiting at a concession stand, and scenes outside the main stadium concourse.

The seats behind center field are painted black and not occupied during baseball games; this allows batters to track the ball as it is pitched, as the "black seats" section is directly in front of them. If fans were allowed to sit in this section, it would create an unfair pitcher's advantage, as it would make it virtually impossible for batters to track the ball if a substantial number of fans were wearing white shirts.

Yankee Stadium!
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Yankee Stadium - 2000 World Series
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Perhaps the best known of all baseball stadiums, Yankee Stadium is the scene of such memorable events as Babe Ruth's then-record 60th home run in 1927; tearful farewell addresses by Lou Gehrig in 1939 and Babe Ruth in 1948; Don Larsen's perfect World Series game in 1956; Roger Maris's then-record 61st home run in 1961; Reggie Jackson's three home runs in a World Series game in 1977; and countless on-field celebrations of World Series championships.

04/18/1923 Red Sox 1, Yankees 4
Umpires Tommy Connolly, Billy Evans,
Ducky Holmes
Managers Miller Huggins, Yankees
  Frank Chance, Red Sox
Starting Pitchers Bob Shawkey, Yankees
  Howard Ehmke, Red Sox
Ceremonial Pitch New York Governor Al Smith
Attendance 74,200
Batter Chick Fewster (ground out)
Hit George Burns (single)
Run Bob Shawkey
RBI Joe Dugan
Single George Burns
Double Bob Meusel
Triple Norm McMillan
Home Run Babe Ruth
Grand Slam Tris Speaker (06/09/1923)
IPHR Sam Rice (04/25/1923)
Stolen Base Joe Harris, George Burns
Sacrifice Hit Everett Scott
Sacrifice Fly Joe Dugan (04/21/1923)
Cycle Goose Goslin (08/28/1924)
Win Bob Shawkey
Loss Howard Ehmke
Shutout Sam Jones (04/24/1923)
Save N/A
Hit by Pitch Bob Shawkey hit Chick Fewster
Wild Pitch Alex Ferguson (04/19/1923)
Balk Fred Heimach (05/05/1923)
No-Hitter Monte Pearson (08/27/1938)
Perfect Games Don Larsen (10/08/1956,
World Series)
David Wells (05/17/1998)
David Cone (07/18/1999)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet

The New York Giants football team played at Yankee Stadium from 1956 to 1973. The Stadium was also home to several football teams known as the New York Yankees, but none of these lasted for more than a few seasons.

The 1930 and 1931 Army-Navy Games were played at Yankee Stadium. Army played Notre Dame there in 1928, and led at halftime, before Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne inovked the memory of his school's greatest football hero to that point, George Gipp, who had died in 1920. In a story he is now believed to have made up, Rockne told of meeting Gipp on his deathbed, and hearing the great player say, "Sometime, when the team is up against it, and the breaks are beating the boys, tell 'em to go out there with everything they've got, and win just one for the Gipper." Notre Dame came back to win the game. Army and Notre Dame also played at Yankee Stadium in 1946, when Army was ranked number 1 in the nation and had won the last two National Championships, and Notre Dame was ranked number 2. One of several college football games to be known as "The Game of the Century" in the days leading up to it, the game ended in a 0-0 tie, and when both teams remained undefeated at the end of the season, Notre Dame was awarded the National Championship.

Starting in 1971, the Stadium hosted the Whitney M. Young Urban League Classic, a game between "historically black colleges," often featuring Grambling State University of Louisiana, coached by Eddie Robinson. The Classic helped to spread the fame of Grambling and other similar schools. The Classic was held at Shea Stadium during the 1974-75 renovation of Yankee Stadium, and was last played there in the 1987 season, the last time a football game was played there. It has been held at Giants Stadium in New Jersey's Meadowlands Sports Complex ever since.

The renovations in the mid-Super70s really mark the end of the first Yankee Stadium and the beginning of the second; the stadium may have been at the same location and many of the same original pieces were still in place, but this rebuilt Yankee Stadium was not the "house that Ruth built." You will therefore see references to Yankee Stadium I and Yankee Stadium II on this site.

Many boxing matches have been held at the stadium, notably Joe Louis's victory over Max Schmeling in 1938. The New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League used Yankee Stadium for home games in 1971 and then again in 1976. The Stadium was also the site of a memorial service on September 23, 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

One of its distinguishing features is the white facade that hangs over the outfield bleacher billboards and scoreboard (a similar frieze once hung from the roof over the upper deck, pre-renovation). Also notable is the exhaust stack that stands outside the main entrance gate, constructed in the shape of a baseball bat. (For years it bore the Louisville Slugger logo.)

While elements of the Stadium are decidedly modern, its asymmetry, monuments in left-center field and exterior arches give fans a reminder of the Stadium during its most golden period. Even the blue YANKEE STADIUM letters over the main gate are longtime features; they're the same letters that first appeared there in white in the early 1960s.

Those monuments, commemorating various retired Yankee players, once stood on the playing field in deep left-center field. They are now out of play, in an area called Monument Park. In the 1992 book The Gospel According to Casey, by Ira Berkow and Jim Kaplan, it is reported that the Yankees manager, Casey Stengel, was watching his centerfielder fumbling with the ball in the vicinity of the monuments, while the batter-runner circled the bases. Stengel yelled out, "Ruth, Gehrig, Huggins, somebody get that ball back to the infield!"

The monuments are located more than 450 feet from home plate. It is an achievement for a home run in the "new" Stadium to go into the monuments on the fly. Among those who have done so are Thurman Munson (in Game 3 of the 1978 American League Championship Series) and Alex Rodriguez (in August 2005).

Since the mid-1980s, the rear fence lining the walkway from the grandstand to the monuments -- the barrier that was the outfield fence from 1976 to 1984 -- has borne the Yankees' retired numbers. Under those numbers are biographies of the players that were honored.

One hypothesis is that the "Bronx cheer" was so named because of its popularity among Yankees fans.

New Yankee Stadium

On April 16, 2005, the team announced plans to build a stadium on the adjacent land, to be ready for the 2009 season, with the official announcement made on June 15, 2005 at a press conference. The team would pay for the new ballpark, estimated to be about $800 million (US), to be located north of the current stadium in Macombs Dam Park. The plan is for the new stadium to look like the pre-renovation Yankee Stadium, but with modern touches such as 50 or more luxury suites and a field configured like the current stadium. The expected capacity is 50,800 (with possible expansion to 54,000) with a completion date of 2009.

Unlike most of the new stadiums built in the United States, the stadium will be built and paid for by the team, with the city and state paying for infrastructure improvements. However, the plan requires both city and state approval before going through.

Interestingly, three days earlier, on June 12, 2005, a plan for a New Mets Stadium in Willetts Point, Queens in the parking lot of the current Shea Stadium was announced. If approved it is also to be completed for the 2009 baseball season.

The new Yankee Stadium would have served as the site for Baseball in the Olympics had New York City been chosen as host city for the Games of the XXX Olympiad, assuming that the decision would have encouraged the International Olympic Committee to retain the sport for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Related Books on Yankee Stadium:
Babe Ruth Slept Here: The Baseball Landmarks of New York City by Jim Reisler.
The Diamond in the Bronx: Yankee Stadium and the Politics of New York by Neil J. Sullivan.
Yankee Stadium: 75 Years of Drama, Glamour, and Glory by Ray Robinson, Christopher Jennison.
Yankee Stadium in Your Pocket: The Fan's Guide to Yankee Stadium by Kevin T. Dame, Ryoji Yoshida and Christine Dame Yoshida.

Related Books on Ballparks
The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee
Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
Ballparks by Robert Von Goeben and Red Howard.
Ballparks: Then & Now by Eric Enders.
Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballbarks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums by Ira Rosen.
Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks by Jay Ahuja
Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
Video: Story of America's Classic Ballparks
Video: Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Economics of Stadiums
City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

General Stadium Reference:
Sports Staff of USA Today. The Complete 4 Sport Stadium Guide. Fodor's, 1996.

Stadium Design and Financing References:
Philip Bess. City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. Knothole Press, 1999.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Common Courage Press, 1998.
Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. HarperCollins, 1997.
Kevin J. Delaney, Rick Eckstein. Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Brookings Institution, 1997.
Dean V. Baim. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Greenwood Publishing, 1994.
Stadia: A Design and Development Guide by Geraint John and Rod Sheard. Architectural Press, 2000.
Michelle Provoost, Matthjis Bouw and Camiel Van Winkel. The Stadium: Architecture of Mass Sport. NAI Publishers, 2000.

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Photo courtesy of Rick Dikeman

Year by Year statistics: for Yankee Stadium

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