Home to baseball’s most hallowed legends and treasured lore, Yankee Stadium once stood as Major League Baseball’s pantheon– a fitting title, since it was the first sports location to be given the Greek appellation “stadium.” From its construction in 1923 to its demise in 2008, it was once home to the most successful franchise in modern sports history, the twenty-six-time world champion New York Yankees (a remarkable pace of about one title every three years). Nine of those championships were clinched at the stadium, while eight other teams have celebrated winning their rings there. And while there is no trace of the old stadium today, the memories of “the house that Ruth built” won’t be dismantled anytime soon.
Yankee Stadium was more than just the sum of its historical parts, it was the capital of America’s pastime. It’s the Mecca of sports. It’s not just the home of the Yankees, it’s the home of the Bronx Bombers, whose rich history fills the walls of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It’s where the Babe belted over forty-nine homers for five consecutive years, including a then-record sixty in 1927. It’s where the Iron Horse – “the luckiest man on the face of the earth” – called home during his 2,130 consecutive game career, which he finished with seventeen broken bones in his hands, a disease named after him, and the most memorable farewell in all of sports history. It’s where the Gooney Bird pitched the only perfect game in the history of the Fall Classic in game five of the ’56 Series. It’s where fans watched Joltin’ Joe bang his way onto base for fifty-six consecutive games (a record that to this day has not even come close to falling). It’s where the M & M boys battled each other to sixty-one in ’61. It’s where Mr. October slapped three homers off of three different pitchers in game 6 of the ’77 Series.
Lest we not forget, Yankee Stadium is also where the Philadelphia Eagles’ Chuck Bednarik knocked the Giants’ Frank Gifford out of the game and into the history books with one of the most vicious hits in football history. Yankee Stadium is where The Brown Bomber defended his title and redeemed an earlier loss with a first round knock out Max Schmeling. Yankee Stadium is where Pope Paul VI performed the first ever Papal Mass in North America.
But to all who once visited this landmark, it was even more. It was the home of “Death Valley,” “Murderer’s Row,” and “the black.” It’s where the entire country learned the Bronx cheer. It had “the short porch” (once known as “Ruthville”), Monument Park, and “The Big Bat.” It’s where one went to hear the voice of Bob Sheppard bringing the batters into the box. It’s where the late, great, Eddie Layton brought “Take Me Out To the Ball Game” to life during every seventh inning stretch on the Hammond Organ.
Although renovated numerous times during it’s history, Yankee Stadium was starting to structurally show it’s age into the new millennium. Construction began on a new ballpark across the street in 2006, and the final baseball game at Yankee Stadium was played on September 21, 2008. A few months later, the bittersweet demolition of an icon was underway.
Did you visit the iconic Yankee Stadium as a kid – glove in hand, with the hopes of leaving with a home run ball? Did you watch any baseball history unfold from your seat, or see some of the great players in their prime? Share your memories with us in our comments section as we pay tribute to this beloved ballpark of yesteryear.