THROWBACK THURSDAY: “The House that Babe Built” Opens

yankee 1923
Opening day of the new Yankee Stadium, April 18, 1923

Yankee Stadium officially opened on April 18, 1923, with the Yankees’ first home game, against the Boston Red Sox. According to the New York Evening Telegram, “everything smelled of … fresh paint, fresh plaster and fresh grass.” At 3 pm, composer-conductor John Philip Sousa led the Seventh (“Silk-Stocking”) Regiment Band in playing The Star-Spangled Banner. After a parade of players and dignitaries, Babe Ruth was presented with a case containing a symbolically big bat. New York Governor Al Smith threw out the first pitch. The Yankees went on to defeat Ruth’s former team, the Boston Red Sox, by a score of 4 “1, with Ruth hitting a three-run home run into the right-field stands.

Upon opening, Fred Lieb of the New York Evening Telegram dubbed it “The House That Ruth Built”; it has also been known as “The Big Ballpark in The Bronx,” “The Stadium,” and “The Cathedral of Baseball.” The Yankees won their first World Series during the Stadium’s inaugural season.

The Yankees had played at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan since 1913, sharing the venue with the New York Giants. However, relations between the two teams were rocky, and the Yankees had been looking for a new and permanent venue since at least 1909. Giants manager John McGraw derisively suggested that the Yankees relocate “to Queens or some other out-of-the-way place”.

Yankees’ owners Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston and Jacob Ruppert built the team’s new stadium on a 10-acre lumberyard in the Bronx. Construction began May 5, 1922 and Yankee Stadium opened to the public less than a year later. The total bill for construction was $2.5  million ($37,164,64 in today’s economy).

After years of speculation that the Yankees would build a new ballpark to replace Yankee Stadium, construction on a new facility across the street in Macombs Dam Park, the site of the new $2.3 billion stadium, began on August 16, 2006.   The Yankees played their final two seasons in the old stadium in 2007 and 2008 while the new venue was being built.

The design includes a replica of the frieze along the roof that was in Yankee Stadium. It closed following the 2008 baseball season and the new stadium opened in 2009, adopting the “Yankee Stadium” moniker. The original Yankee Stadium was demolished in 2010, two years after it closed, and the site converted into a park called Heritage Field.