The early 1900s were formative years for professional baseball in America, when the division of teams into the American and National Leagues caused the relocation of the original Baltimore Orioles to New York City. In 1913, the new-to-New York team adopted a new name— the Yankees— thus embarking on a tradition of excellence and New York City pride that’s lasted over a century and continues today.
The team’s turn towards greatness happened in 1919 when they purchased iconic outfielder Babe Ruth from the then World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. For the next fifteen years, New Yorkers and tourists had the pleasure of watching the Great Bambino hit 659 home runs while leading the team to four World Series victories. One of those teams, the 1927 Yankees, is widely regarded as the greatest team of all time with a 110-win season, and a line up nicknamed Murderers Row lead by Ruth and fellow Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig.
This stretch of time ignited a Yankees flame that has burned in New Yorkers’ hearts ever since. Yankees Stadium, the team’s field built in 1923, became hallowed ground and the home where Ruth’s legacy was built on decade after decade. Its location in the Bronx led to the team’s nickname as the Bronx Bombers.
In the late 30’s the Bombers won four consecutive World Series titles with a squad featuring Gehrig along with New York’s golden boy, Joe DiMaggio. During his time with the team, Joltin’ Joe set a record for the longest hitting streak in Major League history at 56 games, a record which still stands today. He was also a popular socialite who married Marilyn Monroe. An all-around celebrity, he also became the spokesman for Mr.Coffee and the Bowery Savings Bank.
From 1949 to 1953, the Yankees continued their success winning five straight titles with more future Hall of Famers including Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, and Roger Maris. Berra was an eccentric character who won the hearts of New Yorkers with his workhorse mentality and senselessly brilliant quotes like, “90% of the game is half-mental.”
In the seventies, business tycoon George Steinbrenner bought the franchise, embarking on more World Championships and memorable players. Iin 1977, Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in a World Series game, and in ‘78, Bucky Dent hit a walk-off home run to earn the Yanks a playoff spot that year. Following its success in the late-seventies, the team has remained in the Steinbrenner family ever since.
The team’s next run of dominance came in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s under the leadership of future Hall of Famer, Joe Torre. During this period, greats like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera added their names to the long list of Yankee legends.
Today, in a relatively new Yankees Stadium, whose design is a nod to the original one, the Yankees tradition pushes forward. In the heart of the 2015 season, travelers can head to a Yankees game and experience the intangible wonder that’s developed around this franchise over the course of the last century.
image via flickr