Origins of the New York Yankees
The New York Yankees team is one of the most popular and most fabled teams, not only in the history of baseball, but also in the whole American sports history.
This baseball franchise has been around for over a hundred years. The Yankees found its roots from a Baltimore, Maryland baseball team called the Orioles who officially began playing on the field around 1901. In 1903, the Orioles were purchased from Baltimore and moved to New York, surfacing on 168th Street and Broadway. The New York Yankees today were once named the Highlanders when they began playing in the spring that same year, in their once-resident field Hilltop Park. During their Highlander years, the team achieved its own success by finishing second place in 1904.
In 1912, the team adopted the pinstripe uniform which has become the Yankees’ trademark. The following year the Highlanders scrapped their old name and became the New York Yankees; they also no longer played at the Hilltop Park (which was situated at a higher altitude). Along with the name change, the team’s managers sold them to new owners Colonel Jacob Ruppert and Captain Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston for a total of $1.25 million. Ruppert, who was well-off due to a brewery that he had inherited, was determined to make the New York Yankees the team to beat. Sure enough, the Yankees would lead to more success and prestige in the coming years than Ruppert would ever expect.
The famous trade in history involving Babe Ruth
1920 saw the most famous trade in baseball history where the fate of two clubs — the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox — was utterly sealed. Babe Ruth was traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees, providing one of the most illustrious athletes during his time. With Babe Ruth on the roster and his numerous home runs, in the following year the Yankees won their first American League pennant. They would go on to win thirty-five pennants, the most number of pennants recorded in baseball history.
In 1923, the Yankees made the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx their permanent home. Their first season at the Yankee Stadium was concluded with their first win in the World Series Championship. For the first time ever, the Yankees defeated the New York Giants. Ruth also hit sixty home runs in one season (1927), and this record would remain for the next thirty-four seasons.
Lou Gehrig – “The Ironman”
Now it was Lou Gehrig’s turn to take center stage. Gehrig became the team’s Ironman by setting an amazing streak of 2,130 of consecutive games played until that record was surpassed by Cal Ripken, Jr. decades later. It was also Gehrig who hit four home runs in one game, and that record hasn’t been beaten yet by any baseball player after him.
Joe DiMaggio – a legend in the making; Yankees still dominating
When Ruth finally retired in 1934, another new player emerged in the Yankees roster: Joe DiMaggio, who was acquired from a trade with the San Francisco Seals. From 1936 to 1939 the team would go on to win an unprecedented four straight World Series Championships. In 1939, it was an amazing feat for the Yankees to win the championship considering that Gehrig was forced to retire due to his lingering illness. Gehrig’s uniform number (#4) became the first retired number in baseball.
During the Second World War, the Yankees were still asserting their domination. In 1941, DiMaggio made a record-making 56-game hitting streak, which remains yet to be surpassed in Major League Baseball. Even when DiMaggio went to serve in the military, the Yankees still managed to pull off an impressive victory against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1943 World Series.
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Mickey Mantle’s towering shot and Don Larsen’s perfect pitch
In 1951, another baseball legend Mickey Mantle started his first season for the Yankees, while DiMaggio retired. Mantle would go on to make a name for himself as he made a towering 565-foot shot against the Washington Senators. In 1956, Don Larsen made his perfect pitch in the history of the World Series, aiding the team in defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers and winning the conference.
During the years 1960 to 1964, the Yankees still asserted their domination by winning five straight pennants as well as two World Series championships. Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard, Joe Pepitone, and Roger Maris were part of the Yankees during that era. In 1961, Maris broke the previous record set by Babe Ruth as he hit 61 home runs, and that new record would stand for the next thirty-seven years.
A new era dawned for the Yankees
In 1969, Mantle retired his #7 uniform. The new era opened for the Yankees in 1973 as George “The Boss” Steinbrenner took over the ownership of the team and owned the team until his death in 2010. Steinbrenner’s sons, Hal and Hank, currently co-own the Yankees.
While the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx was undergoing a major renovation, the Yankees were able to play at the nearby venue, Shea Stadium, for two seasons (1974-1975). In 1974, the Yankees acquired James Augustus “Catfish” Hunter, who is often referred to as the most expensive free agent in the history of baseball. The following year a former Yankee player became the manager of the team for the first time — Billy Martin, who would go on to helm the Yankees a total of five times. In 1976, the Yankees won their 30th pennant via a game-deciding home run by Chris Chambliss. During that same year, the Yankees tendered a five-year contract to another power hitter Reggie Jackson, who joined the team. Jackson immediately made his presence felt in the team the following year by hitting three home runs in Game 6 of the World Series championships. They finally emerged victorious in that series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 1979, team captain Thurman Munson perished in a plane crash, and his jersey number (#15) was retired by the team. In 1980, Dave Winfield, a free agent to the Yankees, signed the most lucrative contract in baseball history. In 1983, Dave Righetti had a no-hitter, the first since Larsen’s perfect game in 1956. During the calendar year (1985), Martin, Berra and another former Yankee great, Lou Pinella, took their own turns in managing the team. Sadly, Martin died in a vehicular accident in 1989.
Mantle’s passing, and the Yankees’ end to the World Series drought
Former Yankee Don Mattingly hit a home run in eight straight games, tying the Major League Baseball record with Dale Long’s. Mattingly, aka “Donnie Baseball,” also had six Grand Slams, another record-making record in MLB history. In 1993, Jim Abbott hurled a no-hitter at their home Yankee Stadium; the same year also saw Miller retiring his number. In 1995, the baseball world mourned the passing of Mantle, who died of cancer but that mourning was immediately replaced by the victory of the Yankees in the World Series, ending their 18-year World Series drought.
The Yankees in the new generation
Although the Yankees in recent years haven’t been as strong a team as they once were, like the insiders would predict, in 2000 the team managed to make it through the World Series Championship where they faced rival New York Mets for the first time. The Yankees won in that series and their 26th WS crown. In 2001, the Yankees made team history again by defeating the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series, winning the pennant for the fourth straight year. 2002 wasn’t an eventual year for the Yankees, as they failed to reach the World Series Championships and fell short of winning the ALDS title; even so, rookie Alfonso Soriano ended his first year remarkably, batting .300 with 39 home runs, 102 runs batted in, and 41 stolen bases. Another Yankee first-timer Jason Giambi ended his season with .314 batting average, 41 home runs and 122 runs batted in.
Failures and injuries
Although the Yankees failed to win another World Series crown in 2003, they otherwise won another American League East Division title. In 2004, the team attempted to regain their dominance by winning another AL East Division title and scoring a total of 100 victories for the third straight season. They managed to enter the ALDS championship series against the Boston Red Sox, but failed to win the crown.
The has team faced a lot of challenges that were worsened by a line of injuries suffered by key players such as Derek Jeter, Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano. Despite that, the team rebounded from their disappointing seasonal start with a game-winning streak. In 2006, the team was in a bid for another World Series Championship but they were dogged again by injuries, and 2007 saw the team making their early exit with a 21-29 W-L record in the first 50 games. A host of injuries, again, was to blame for their early booting out of the league.
The rebounding Yankees
In 2008, the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 1993. But in 2009 the Yankees, led by World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, rebounded again by winning the 27th and last (as of yet) World Series Championship crown by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies.
In 2011, the Yankees emerged as the first team in Major League history to strike three grand slams in a single game. They also went on to win the AL East Division title for the second time in three seasons. However, they lost to the Detroit Tigers in the AL Division Series that year. They would lose to the Tigers again in the 2012 AL Championship Series.
The Yankees have had an illustrious history, backed up by many legendary players and exciting moments and milestones. This has made them one of the most fabled teams in baseball history.
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