Edited by Dave Anderson
Edited by Bill Pennington
Foreword by Alec Baldwin
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The New York Yankees are the most storied franchise in baseball history. They consistently draw the largest home and away crowds of any team, command the largest broadcast audiences in baseball, draw the greatest number of on-line followers, and routinely sell more copies of books and magazines than any other professional sports team.
The New York Times Story of the Yankees includes more than 350 articles chronicling the team's most famous milestones—as well as the best writing about the ball club. Each article is hand-selected from The Times by the peerless sportswriter Dave Anderson, creating the most complete and compelling history to date about the Yankees.
Organized by era, the book covers the biggest stories and events in Yankee history, such as the purchase of Babe Ruth, Roger Maris's 61st home run, and David Cone's perfect game. It chronicles the team's 27 World Series championships and 40 American League pennants; its rivalries with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox; controversial owners, players, and managers; and more. The articles span the years from 1903—when the team was known as the New York Highlanders—to the present, and include stories from well-known and beloved Times reporters such as Arthur Daley, John Kieran, Leonard Koppett, Red Smith, Tyler Kepner, Ira Berkow, Richard Sandomir, Jim Roach, and George Vecsey.
Hundreds of black-and-white photographs throughout capture every era. A foreword by die-hard Yankees fan, Alec Baldwin, completes the celebration of baseball's greatest team.
One of the oldest stories in the daily jousting between New York baseball teams and New York newspapers has endured since one day nearly a century ago, when several reporters arrived at the West 42nd Street offices of the New York Giants demanding comment on the club's latest crisis. Dutifully, the receptionist hurried toward the desk of the owner or general manager whose identity has been lost in time.
"Sir," the receptionist was heard to say, "there are some newspapermen here and a gentleman from The Times."
That story is always good for a laugh but, then or now, not every newspaper gets or deserves such respect. The Times likes to think that its baseball writers always are gentlemen or gentlewomen, even when their reporting may not be so gentle. In our ever-changing world, most of the newspapers of that long-ago era are long gone. So are the Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers, who departed for California after the 1957 season to be replaced by the Mets in 1962. But the Yankees have been around since 1903, and The Times—now online as well as on newsstands and on your doorstep—appears every morning, usually with a story or two (or three) about the Yankees. No other newspaper has recorded Yankees history so thoroughly.
After a slow start, the Yankees have reigned as America's most dominant sports franchise, with 27 World Series championships, 40 American League pennants, and 52 postseason appearances. Of the dozens of teams in North America's three other professional sports, only ice hockey's Montreal Canadiens are close, with 24 Stanley Cup celebrations. Pro basketball's Boston Celtics display 17 championship banners. When pro football's Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV, they had 13 titles.
One of journalism's basic tenets is that names make news, and the Yankees have had many of baseball's most headline-friendly news makers: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Alex Rodriguez—not to forget George Steinbrenner, the blustery principal owner, and his five-time foil as the dugout manager, Billy Martin. Whenever any of them did or said something newsworthy, Times writers were there to report or comment on it. Six of those writers—more than that of any other newspaper—have their names on the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing" at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The honored six include Red Smith and John Kieran, two Sports of the Times columnists whose commentaries were legendary literature, as well as John Drebinger, Leonard Koppett, Joe Durso, Murray Chass, and Claire Smith.
Red Smith was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his columns, as were Sports of the Times columnists Arthur Daley in 1956 and Dave Anderson in 1981. Other Times award winners over the years include columnists Robert Lipsyte, George Vecsey, Ira Berkow, William C. Rhoden, Harvey Araton and Selena Roberts, as well as beat writers James P. Dawson, Roscoe McGowen, Louis Effrat, Jack Curry, Buster Olney, Tyler Kepner, Ben Shpigel, and David Waldstein.
As you'll see, baseball writing, in adjusting to radio and then television, has evolved from the no-byline era, to Drebinger's virtual play-by-play description of a World Series game from the 1920s through the '50s, to the Koppett and Durso analytical assessments in the '60s, to the Chass police-like details of the turbulent '70s and '80s. With more depth and features, Times writers excelled in covering the day-to-day developments of the team, not merely the games. So have the Times photographers, notably Ernest Sisto, Larry Morris, Barton Silverman, and Chang Lee. Once, when he was assigned to get a photo of Phil Rizzuto bunting during a game, Sisto mentioned it to the Yankees shortstop who told him, "When I'm going to bunt, I'll slide my right hand along my bat before the pitch." Rizzuto did, and Sisto clicked.
And what a team to cover. Even when the Yankees didn't win or lose the World Series, they usually were in the pennant races of past decades, and the postseason play-offs of more recent seasons. The Yankees won their World Series in bunches—four from 1923 to '32; six from '36 to '43; ten from '47 to '62; two in '77 and '78; and four from '96 to '00, before the '09 title. At last count, the National Baseball Hall of Fame includes 51 members who played, managed, or were an executive for the Yankees, the most for any major league franchise.
To appreciate the Yankees' mix of talent and success, no other club has had a Hall of Fame player at every position on at least one World Series winner: starting pitchers Whitey Ford, Herb Pennock, Waite Hoyt, Red Ruffing, Lefty Gomez, Catfish Hunter, and relief pitcher Rich (Goose) Gossage. Catchers Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey. First basemen Lou Gehrig and Johnny Mize. Second basemen Tony Lazzeri and Joe Gordon. Shortstop Phil Rizzuto. Third baseman Wade Boggs. Left fielder Enos Slaughter. Center fielders Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Earle Combs. Right fielders Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson (also a designated hitter). Plus two certain future Hall of Famers in shortstop Derek Jeter and relief pitcher Mariano Rivera.
Four Yankees managers—Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, and Joe Torre—are in the Hall of Fame. Two general managers are there, Ed Barrow and George Weiss. Sooner or later, George Steinbrenner might join Jacob Ruppert as a longtime Yankees owner with a bronze plaque.
With so many World Series rings and American League pennants, the Yankees have created much more history than any of their New York–area colleagues. The pro football Giants have won eight NFL titles (including four Super Bowls); the Jets, one Super Bowl; the departed baseball Giants, five World Series; the departed Dodgers, one World Series; the Knicks, two NBA championships; the Nets, two American Basketball Association titles; the Rangers, five Stanley Cups; the Islanders, four; and the New Jersey Devils, three.
Love them or hate them, there has been no sports franchise quite like the Yankees, whose history the New York Times tells so well.
THE EARLY YEARS
In the beginning, the Yankees were seldom a good team. Then again, they weren't the Yankees. They were known as the Highlanders because they played at Hilltop Park, a hastily erected wooden skeleton at Broadway and 168th Street in upper Manhattan overlooking the Harlem River to the east, where the original Yankee Stadium would open in the Bronx in 1923.
Until 1903, baseball in New York mostly meant the Giants and the Brooklyn team of the established National League; but for the young American League's third season, it had expanded into America's fastest-growing city. With hundreds of immigrants arriving almost daily at Ellis Island, New York's five-borough population had surpassed 3.5 million. However, this was a New York without much to take its citizens' minds off how to pay the rent in the brownstones or tenements.
The swells had their 42nd Street theaters along with golf and tennis, but baseball was about all anybody else had. Horse racing and boxing existed now and then, but baseball was by far the most popular sport. Football was for lvy League collegians. Basketball had been invented in a Springfield, Massachusetts, YMCA gymnasium only a decade earlier. Ice hockey was played by British troops in Canada. Running and jumping in the Olympics was a new European idea.
There were hardly any telephones, hardly any automobiles. The subway was under construction but wouldn't be completed until 1904, and then only from downtown to 145th Street in Manhattan. To travel more than a few blocks, you climbed onto a trolley, an electric streetcar that clanged along tracks; and when you got off, you weaved your way past horse-drawn wagons.
Radio stations, much less play-by-play announcers, were decades away, and television channels were fifty years in the future. But more than a dozen New York newspapers flourished. Readers in 1903 learned that New York had a new baseball team to rival the Giants, who played at the Polo Grounds on 155th Street and Eighth Avenue below what was known as Coogan's Bluff. For the Highlanders' home opener on April 30, 1903, at Hilltop Park, its field still rocky and uneven, 16,293 spectators arrived by trolley and horse-drawn wagons or trudged there on foot to welcome New York's new team, its roster spliced together mostly with players from the disbanded 1902 Baltimore Orioles. The Highlanders defeated the Washington Senators, 6–2.
At the time, surely nobody realized how Baltimore's loss of that team might have affected Yankees and baseball history. Less than a year before the Highlanders were formed, on June 13, 1902, an eight-year-old truant who grew up in his father's boisterous bar near the Baltimore waterfront was committed to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, where he would develop into quite a left-handed pitcher and hitter. The boy's name was George Herman Ruth, later known as Babe, a baseball player unlike any other. But had the American League team remained in Baltimore, might that Baltimore prospect eventually have signed with it and played there, rather than join the minor league Orioles on his way to the Boston Red Sox and, in 1920, the Yankees?
We'll never know. But what we do know is that in outgrowing their Highlanders' nickname, the Yankees seldom threatened to win the pennant. Over their 17 seasons before Babe Ruth arrived, they finished as high as second only three times, notably in a final-day showdown at Hilltop Park in 1904 with the Boston Puritans, later the Red Sox, that turned on a wild pitch by right-hander Jack Chesbro, a 41-game winner that year, in the tenth inning of the first game of a doubleheader.
Had the Highlanders won that game, they would have trailed by one-half game. Instead, the Puritans led two and a half games to clinch first place. The Giants had won the National League pennant, but there was no World Series that year because the Giants' owner, John T. Brush, refused to play the American League upstarts. In 1906 the Yankees finished three games behind the Chicago White Sox (nicknamed the Hitless Wonders).
In 1910 the Yankees trailed Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics by fourteen and one-half games during an era that had a dark side: constant whispers that Hal Chase, their star first baseman, was throwing games. That rare player who threw left-handed and batted right-handed, Chase was a dazzling fielder who hit .323 with 193 hits in 1906. But in the seasons that followed, some of his teammates didn't trust him. Neither did George Stallings, the manager in 1910; but late that season, Chase convinced the front office to dismiss Stallings and let him manage. The Yankees finished on a 9–2 spurt, but in 1911, despite Chase's .311 average, they skidded to sixth place. Although replaced as manager by Harry Wolverton, he stayed at first base as the Yankees dropped into last place. In 1912, this supposedly classic gloveman made 36 errors. After the 1913 season, when he batted .212, he was traded to the White Sox, jumped to the Federal League, then ended his shady career with the Cincinnati Reds and the Giants.
As a franchise, the Yankees didn't turn upward until the new owners—Colonel Jacob Ruppert, a millionaire brewer, and Captain Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston—took charge before the 1915 season. The next year the team climbed into the first division, and by 1919, Miller Huggins's second season as manager, they finished third with a respectable 80–59 record, only seven and one-half games behind the White Sox, eight of whose players would be indicted for having accepted bribes to throw that year's World Series with the Reds. Those eight players, later banned from baseball for life, changed the name of the 1919 Chicago team to the Black Sox. But that little boy in Baltimore two decades earlier, the left-handed pitcher and slugger now known as Babe Ruth, soon would be on his way to New York.
Sept 7, 1902
AMERICAN LEAGUE HERE
Another Baseball Team Proposed for New York Next Season.
AS THE PRESENT BASEBALL SEASON draws to a close interest is turned from the pennant race to the war between the National and American Leagues. In the National League Pittsburg has already won the championship for the second time. In all probability the Brooklyns will finish second. A short time ago it was a fierce fight between Chicago and Brooklyn for the next place to Pittsburg, but now Boston leads the Western club in the percentage column.
There never was a baseball horizon so full of promise as it is to-day. This rosy hue of affairs obtains particularly with the players. The merry war now being so fiercely waged between the National and American Leagues is the lever which is lifting the players' salaries as they have never been lifted before.
When a ball player's services are valued at $8,000 for a season's work, there is certainly rich financial reward for the man who can field and bat. That is the salary paid by the Cleveland Club to Lajoie. And every other player who naturally thinks himself able to play as good a game as the French Canadian considers that he, too, is worth a like princely price.
Had it not been for the American League and its persistent bids for the best men, Lajoie would not have received such a salary.
The American League is still offering big money for star players and its rivals of the National Association are no way behind in the bidding.
All this has created a boom in salaries. It has kept the men alive to the value of their services, and every player of the first rank is holding out for bids and will not sign contracts for next season until he had received the last offer.
Christy Mathewson, the New York's pitcher, is a case in point. He has been told that he might write his own contract, but persistently delays to sign.
In this battle between the rival forces among the club owners such men as these and Flick and Delehanty and other stars of a like magnitude are wanted at almost any price by the rivals, and they will certainly hold out to the highest bidder. There seems unlimited money in both organizations, and it will be freely spent.
There were rumors afloat that a compromise might be affected between the American and National Leagues, but those in authority are very reticent and nothing definite can be learned. But from the outlook at present, it looks as if the war would be fought all through next season.
One thing is certain, that out of this intense rivalry will grow a revival of baseball such as the country has never seen. And it is highly probable that New York will have a better team than it has had in many years.
January 11, 1903
AGREEMENT IN BASEBALL
Keeler, Griffith, Tannehill, and Chesbro Will Play with New York American League Team.
CINCINNATI, Jan. 10.—THE BASEBALL WAR which has been waging for the last two years between the American and National Leagues virtually ended to-night when the Peace Commission of both Leagues adjourned after coming to an agreement.
According to this agreement an American League team is to be established in New York, and among the players who will represent it on the field are William Keeler, the Captain of the Brooklyn National League team of last year; Clark Griffith, the Chicago pitcher, and the Pittsburg pitchers, Chesbro and J. Tannehill. A number of other strong players complete the make up of the team.
The contract claims of each of the clubs were carefully considered by the Peace Committee, and a list was drawn up of the players awarded to each club. All the players who have received advance money from any other club than that to which they are assigned, are directed to return this money, and will not be permitted to play until this is done.
The agreement of the committee, as given out, was as follows:
"CINCINNATI, Ohio, Jan. 10.—At a prior date the National League and American Association of Professional Baseball Clubs, having appointed a committee, and the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs having appointed a committee, the object and purpose being for said committees to meet, discuss and agree upon a policy to end any and all differences now existing between the said two leagues, and consisting of Harry C. Pulliam, August Herrmann, James A. Hart, and Frank De Haas Robinson, and the said committee of the said American League, consisting of Ben B. Johnson, Charles A. Comiskey, Charles W. Somers, and H. J. Killilea, and said committees having met at the St. Nicholas Hotel, in Cincinnati on Jan 9, 1903, and having continued in session until this 10th day of January, 1903, and after having fairly and fully discussed all complaints and matters of grievances and abuses growing out of the present baseball conditions, and having in mind the future welfare and preservation of the National game, have unanimously agreed as follows:
"First—Each and every contract hereafter entered into by the clubs of either League with players, managers, or umpires shall be considered valid and binding.
"Second—A reserve rule shall be recognized, by which each and every club may reserve players under contract, and that a uniform contract for the use of each League shall be adopted.
"Third—After a full consideration of all contract claims by each and every club, it is agreed that the list hereto attached, marked exhibits 'A' and 'B,' is the correct list of the players legally awarded to each club. Exhibit 'A' being the list of American League players and Exhibit 'B' being the list of National League players.
"Fourth—it is agreed that any and all sums of money received by any player from any other than the club to which he is awarded by the exhibits hereto attached, shall be returned forthwith to the club so advancing said sums, and until all said sums of money so advanced are returned said player shall not be permitted to play with any club in either league.
"Fifth—The circuits of each league shall consist of the following cities:
"American League—Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis.
"National League—Boston, New York, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati.
"Neither circuit shall be changed without the consent of the majority of the clubs of each league.
"It is further provided that there shall be no consolidation in any city where two clubs exist, nor shall any club transfer or release its players for the purpose of injuring or weakening the league of which it is a member.
"Sixth—On or before the 1st day of February of each year the President of each league shall appoint a schedule committee of three, who shall be authorized to prepare a schedule of the games to be played during the championship season by each club in each league. This schedule shall be submitted by the committee within three weeks after its appointment to each league for adoption and ratification. This committee shall be authorized, if it deems the same advisable, to provide for a series of championship games between all of the clubs in both leagues.
"Seventh—On or before the first day of February of each year the President of each League shall appoint a Committee on Rules of three each, who shall be authorized to prepare uniform playing rules. These rules shall be submitted by the committee within three weeks after their appointment to each League for their ratification and adoption.
"Eighth—It is further agreed that the said two leagues hereinbefore mentioned shall enter into a National agreement embodying the agreements and conditions hereinbefore set forth: and it is further agreed that Presidents Ban B. Johnson and Harry C. Pulliam be, and they are hereby appointed, each a committee of one from each league for the purpose of making, preparing, and formulating such National agreement: and it is further agreed that they invite President P. T. Powers of the National Association of Professional Baseball League to confer and advise with them in the formulating and said National agreements.
"Ninth—It is hereby agreed that each member hereby binds himself and his respective league by signing this agreement this 10th day of January, 1903.
"JAMES A. HART.
"FRANK DEHASS ROBINSON.
"B. B. JOHNSON.
"CHARLES A. COMISKEY.
"CHARLES W. SOMERS.
"H. J. KILLILEA."…
April 23, 1903
New York Team Plays in Washington and Loses to the Local Nine—Score, 3 to 1.
WASHINGTON, April 22.—THE NEW YORK baseball team of the American League inaugurated the League season here to-day by meeting the Washington team. New York lost by 3 to 1 through inability to bat safely at opportune times. The game proved one of the most enjoyable ever witnessed by local cranks. It was closely contested at every point.
The game proved to be a pitchers' battle, and was won by Washington on the merits of a timely fusillade of safe hits in the fifth inning.
New York was first to score, through a rare piece of base running by Willie Keeler. Keeler got his base on balls, and started for second, when Fultz singled to Delehanty. Delehanty immediately returned the ball to Coughlin, who jabbed at Keeler as the little wonder dropped to the ground and made an exceptionally long slide safely into third base, amid the applause of the multitude that occupied every available seat and completely surrounded the outfield.
April 30, 1903
BIG DAY FOR BASEBALL
New York American League Team Will Open New Grounds To-day.
THIS WILL BE A GALA DAY for baseball in Manhattan, and all roads will lead to the new grounds, which from now on will be known as American League Park, on Washington Heights. The American Baseball League has bent all its energies during the last twelve months to locate a playing club in this city, and this afternoon will see the realization of President Ban Johnson's oft-repeated promises. The Greater New York Baseball Club will celebrate the opening of its new park to-day with a band concert and the initial game of the local American League season.
President Gordon and Manager Clark Griffith will match their team of baseball experts against the Washington team, that "broke even" with them in the opening series last week. The club management has been generous in extending invitations for this event, and it is expected that an army of "cranks," "fans," and "rooters" who talk baseball all the year round will be on hand for the "opening."
The work of blasting rock, filling in and leveling the grounds has been going on day and night for several weeks, and while the great undertaking is not nearly completed, enough progress has been made to enable the games being played. The grand stand is roofless, but the chairs are all in their places, while two large open stands have been constructed hurriedly, so there will be a seating capacity of 16,000 to-day and standing room for as many more. The diamond has been sodded and rolled until it looks as level as a newly covered billiard table, but the outfield is in a rough and rugged condition.
There is a good deal of filling in to be done in right field, and ground rules will be arranged in regard to the value of hits made in that direction. Only six games have been scheduled for this and the following playing days, and then the team will go over the circuit. It is hoped that by the time the players return from this Western trip everything, to the merest detail, will be completed and that the new club and its team will have a successful season in every respect.
President Ban Johnson will throw the ball to the umpire immediately before the game, which will be started promptly at 3:30 o'clock. The gates will be opened at 1 o'clock, and the Sixty-ninth Regiment Band, under the direction of Bandmaster Bayne, will enliven the proceedings during the afternoon.
The New York Americans won the final game of the series with the Athletics in Philadelphia yesterday, and if they succeed in getting their eyes on the ball while handling the willow to-day, there should be nothing wanting to make the inauguration of the new park a complete success.
May 1, 1903
BASEBALL'S BIG CROWD
Auspicious Opening of American League Grounds in This City.
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- Mar 16, 2021
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- Black Dog & Leventhal