The New York Yankees have a long history filled with many high points, milestones, and championships. With 27 world championships, they are the best team in Major League Baseball history, and have accomplished this feat with the help of such names as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, and Derek Jeter.
At the end of the 1900 season, Bancroft "Ban" Johnson, president of the Western League, made moves to assert his league as a new major league in competition with the National League (NL). This included changing the name to the American League (AL) and adding teams in Eastern cities. Plans to put a team in New York City were blocked by the NL's New York Giants, whose connections to Tammany Hall gave them the political power to do so.
Instead, a team was placed in Baltimore, Maryland, a city that had recently lost its NL team. Nicknamed the Orioles, they began play in 1901, and were managed and owned in part by John McGraw. Johnson rigidly enforced rules about rowdiness on the field of play, causing a feud with McdUDE. During the 1902 season, McGraw jumped to the NL, getting a job as manager of the Giants. He still, owned part of the Orioles, however, and a week later the owner of the Giants, John T. Brush, gained a controlling interest in the team. He began raiding their best players until the AL stepped in and took control of the team.
In January 1903, a "peace conference" was held between the two leagues to settle disputes and try to coexist. At the conference, Johnson requested that an AL team be put in New York to play alongside the Giants as he always wished. It was put to a vote, and 15 of the 16 major league owners agreed to it, with Brush being the only opponent. As a result, the NL agreed to let the "junior circuit" establish a franchise in New York. The Orioles were chosen to make the move, and their new owners, Frank J. Farrell and William S. Devery, found a ballpark location not blocked by the Giants. Thus, the Baltimore team moved to New York.
The new ballpark for the relocated team was constructed at 165th Street and Broadway in Manhattan, one of the highest points on the island. Formally known as "American League Park", it was nicknamed "Hilltop Park" or "The Hilltop", and was significantly smaller than the Polo Grounds, the Giants' home just a few blocks away.
Publisher William Randolph Hearst's New York Evening Journal referred to the new club as the "Invaders" in 1903, but switched in the spring of 1904 to the name that would stick for several years: the New York Highlanders. The name was a reference to the team's location and also to the noted British military unit The Gordon Highlanders, which fit as the team's president from 1903 to 1906 was Joseph Gordon. Like other AL teams, such as the team in Boston, they were also referred to as the "Americans". By 1904, the team was also being called the "Yankees" or "Yanks", a synonym for "Americans" which was also easier to type and fit in headlines. On April 7, 1904, a spring training story from Richmond, Virginia carried the headline "Yankees Will Start Home From South To-Day." The New York Evening Journal screamed: "YANKEES BEAT BOSTON". However, initially "Highlanders" was the most common unofficial nickname of the new team.
As the Highlanders, the team enjoyed brushes with success only occasionally, finishing second in 1904, 1906 and 1910, with 1904 being their closest approach to a league title. That year, Highlander Pitcher Jack Chesbro set the single-season wins record at 41, a record which still stands and, under current playing practices, is an unbreakable record.
The high point (and low point) of the Highlanders' existence however came on the last day of that 1904 season at Hilltop Park. Chesbro threw a wild pitch in the ninth inning that allowed the eventual pennant-winning run to score for the Boston Americans, which would later become the Boston Red Sox. The presence of the Highlanders in the AL pennant race had historical significance in several ways. For one thing, this series would be the last time Boston would beat New York in a pennant deciding game for a full century. The more immediate impact was on the 1904 World Series. The Highlander's neighbor, the Giants, had won the NL pennant. Not wanting to play (and possibly lose) against their AL counterpart, the Giants announced that they would not participate in the World Series, claiming they would not play a "minor league" team. Although Boston won instead, the Giants stuck by their word and still refused to participate. This would be the last time until the strike-truncated year of 1994 that the World Series would not be played. The resulting backlash by the press caused Brush to take a stance and lead the committee to formalize the rules governing the World Series.
Much of the team's Hilltop Park days were spent in last place. Its somewhat corrupt ownership and a few questionable activities by some of the players (most notably first baseman Hal Chase) raised suspicions of game-fixing. Such suspicions have never been proven, although Chase was eventually banned from baseball for corruption.
The Polo Grounds burned down in 1911 and the Highlanders allowed the Giants to play in Hilltop Park during reconstruction. Relations between the two teams warmed, and the Highlanders would move into the newly rebuilt Polo Grounds in 1913. Now playing on the Harlem River, a far cry from their high-altitude home, the name "Highlanders" no longer applied, and fell into disuse among the press. The media had already widely adopted the "Yankees" nickname coined by the New York Press, and in 1913 the team became officially known as the New York Yankees.
By the mid 1910s, owners Farrell and Devery had become estranged and were both in dire need of money. At the start of 1915, they sold the team to Colonel Jacob Ruppert and Captain Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston for $1.25 million. Ruppert inherited a brewery fortune, providing the Yankees with an owner who possessed deep pockets and a willingness to dig into them to produce a winning team. This would lead the team to more success and prestige than Ruppert could ever have envisioned.
The home run-hitting exploits of Ruth proved so popular with the public that they began drawing more people than their landlords, the Giants. In 1921, when the Yankees made their first World Series appearance, which was against the Giants, the Yankees were told to move out of the Polo Grounds after [[[1922 Major League Baseball season|1922]]. John McGraw was said to have commented that the Yankees should "move to some out-of-the-way place, like Queens." Instead, to McGraw's chagrin, the Yankees broke ground for a new ballpark in the Bronx, right across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds.
In 1922, the Yankees returned to the World Series, losing to the Giants for the second straight year. Meanwhile, the construction crew moved with remarkable speed and finished the new ballpark in less than a year.
In the years around 1920, the Yankees had a détente with the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox. Their actions antagonized Ban Johnson, garnering them the nickname "the Insurrectos". This was in stark contrast to the other five teams in the league who were known as "the Loyal Five".
This détente paid off well for the Yankees, as Ruppert and Huston would begin to enlarge their payroll. Most of these new players who would later contribute to the team's success came from the Red Sox. Red Sox owner, theater impresario Harry Frazee, had bought the team on credit and needed to pay off his loans and purchase Fenway Park from the Fenway Park Trust. If Frazee didn't own Fenway, Johnson could easily put another team in the ballpark. Also, as the strongest of the Insurrectos, the Red Sox faced a large amount of costly legal battles. To pay for his debts, Frazee was trading players to the Yankees for large sums of money.
From 1919 to 1922, the Yankees acquired pitchers Waite Hoyt, Carl Mays, and Herb Pennock, catcher Wally Schang, shortstop Everett Scott and third baseman Joe Dugan, all from the Red Sox. The most talented of all the acquisitions from Boston, however, was pitcher-turned-outfielder George Herman "Babe" Ruth. The Babe accumulated 2,213 RBIs over his career (second in MLB history), 1,971 of which came as a Yankee (second in team history), and become owner of the single-season home run record in 1919.
Ruth came to New York in January of 1920. Frazee cited Ruth's demand for a raise, even though he was already the highest paid player in baseball, as the reason for the trade. Frazee also wished to aid the Yankees, who had taken his side in the legal battles against Johnson. Ruth did not help the situation in Boston any, as he was regarded as a problem, a carouser. This would continue in his Yankee years, but the New York ownership was more tolerant as long as he brought fans to the ballpark. The outcome of the trade would haunt the Red Sox for the next 84 years. After 1918, they would not win a World Series until 2004, often finding themselves victim to the success of the Yankees. This phenomenon eventually became known as the Curse of the Bambino, as the failure of the Red Sox and the success of the Yankees seemed almost supernatural, stemming from that one trade.
Other important newcomers in this period were manager Miller Huggins and general manager Ed Barrow. Huggins was hired in 1918 by Ruppert while Huston was serving in Europe with the American army. This would later lead to a break between the two owners, with Ruppert eventually buying Huston out in 1923. Barrow came on board after the 1920 season, and, like many of the new Yankee players, had previously been a part of the Red Sox organization, as their manager since 1918. He would act as general manager or president of the Yankees for the next 25 years, in which the Yankees had a lot of success. He was especially noted for development of the Yankees' farm system.
In 1923, the Yankees moved to their new home, Yankee Stadium at East 161st Street and River Avenue. This site was chosen because the IRT Jerome Avenue subway line (now the NYCTA's number 4 train) had a station stop practically on top of the stadium's outfield walls. It was the first triple-deck venue in baseball and seated an astounding 58,000. In the first game at Yankee Stadium, Babe Ruth hit a home run, which was fitting as it was his home runs and drawing power that paid for the stadium, giving it its nickname "The House That Ruth Built". He ended the year with "only" 41 home runs, but was walked a then record 170 times, and batted .393, still the highest batting average for a Yankee in Yankee Stadium. The Yanks finished first in the AL once again and faced the Giants for the third straight year in the World Series. Giants outfielder Casey Stengel, who even then was being called "Old Case", hit two home runs to win two games for the Giants. In the end, however, the Yankees finally triumphed. Stengel would later come to the Yankees as a successful manager.
In the next two seasons, the Washington Senators won the American League pennant as the Yankees finished in second and seventh, respectively. The slump would not last for long, though, as the 1926 team finished 91–63 and landed back in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Babe Ruth put up big numbers in the series, hitting three home runs in game four (which the Yankees won 10–5). The Cardinals would take the series in seven games though after winning the final two games on the road at Yankee Stadium.
The 1927 Yankees lineup was so potent that it become known as "Murderers' Row", and some consider the team to be the best in the history of baseball (though similar claims have been made for other Yankee squads, notably those of 1939, 1961 and 1998). The Yankees won an AL record 110 games with only 44 losses, and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series. Ruth's home run total of 60 in 1927 set a single-season home run record that would stand for 34 years. He also batted .356 and drove in 164 runs. Meanwhile, first baseman Lou Gehrig had his first big season, batting .373 with 47 round-trippers and 175 RBIs, beating Ruth's single-season RBI mark (171 in 1921).
Ruth hit third in the order, and Gehrig hit cleanup. Right behind them were two more sluggers: Bob "The Rifle" Meusel, who played either of the corner outfield positions, and Tony Lazzeri, who played second base. Lazzeri actually ranked third in the league in home runs in 1927 with 18, and he hit .309 with 102 RBIs. Meusel hit .337 with 103 RBIs. Speed was another weapon used by both: Lazzeri stole 22 bases while Meusel was second in the league with 24. These numbers were all due, in part, to center fielder and leadoff man Earle Combs. He hit .356, had a .414 on base percentage, and led the AL with 231 hits that year (a team record until Don Mattingly broke it in 1986 with 238). The team's overall batting average in 1927 was .307. The Yankees would repeat as American League champions in 1928, fighting off the resurgent Philadelphia Athletics. They would then go on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1928 World Series. Ruth got 10 hits in 16 at-bats, his .625 average setting a new single-series record. Three of these hits were home runs. Meanwhile, Gehrig went 6 for 11 (.545), with four home runs. In the next three years, the Athletics would take the AL pennant and two world championships.
In 1932, Joe McCarthy (no relation to the senator of the same name) came in as manager, and would restore the Yankees to the top of the AL. They met the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series, sweeping them and bringing the team's streak of consecutive World Series game wins to 12 (a mark which would stand until the Yankees bested it in the 2000 World Series). This series was made famous by Babe Ruth's famous "Called Shot" in game three of the series at Wrigley Field. This would be a fitting "swan song" to his illustrious postseason career, as Ruth would leave the Yankees, going to the NL Boston Braves after 1934, and would never see the postseason again.
The awesome Yankees' run during the 1930s could also be called the "McCarthy era", after the man who would guide the team to new heights. With Ruth leaving in 1934, Gehrig finally had the chance to come out of his shadow. However, there was no "Gehrig era". After one season as the main force of the Yankees, a new titan appeared, Joe DiMaggio. The young center fielder from San Francisco had an immediate impact, batting .323, hitting 29 homers, and driving in 125 runs in his rookie season of 1936.
The team reeled off an unprecedented four consecutive World Series wins in the years from 1936 to 1939 behind the bats of DiMaggio, Gehrig, and Frank Crosetti. They were aided by the pitching staff, led by Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez, and the whole team was anchored by catcher Bill Dickey. For most of 1939 they had to do it without Gehrig, with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis forcing his retirement and saddening the baseball world.
During this stretch, the Detroit Tigers were the Yankees' main competition. Once they had the pennant, however, they had little trouble. During Game 2 of the 1936 Series, they pounded the Giants 18–4, setting the record for most runs scored in a World Series game, a record which still stands today. They took the Giants 4–2 in the series, and beat them again 4–l1 the next year. They swept the Chicago Cubs in 1938 and the Cincinnati Reds in 1939.
After an off season came the Summer of 1941, a much-celebrated year that is often described as the last year of the "Golden Era" before World War II and other realities intervened. Ted Williams of the Red Sox was in the hunt for the elusive .400 batting average, which he achieved on the last day of the season. Meanwhile, DiMaggio, who had once gotten a hit in 61 straight games with the San Francisco Seals, began a hitting streak on May 15 that stretched to an astonishing 56 games. A popular song by Les Brown celebrated this event, as Betty Bonney and the band members sang it:
|“||He tied the mark at 44
July the First, you know
The last game of the streak came on July 16 at Cleveland's League Park. The streak was finally snapped in a game at Cleveland Stadium the next night before a huge crowd at the lake front. A crucial factor in ending the streak was the fielding of Cleveland third baseman Ken Keltner, who stopped two balls that DiMaggio hit hard to the left. Modern baseball historians regard it as unlikely that anyone will ever hit .400 again, barring a change to the way the game is played, and that it will be extremely difficult to approach DiMaggio's 56-game streak, which is far beyond second place (44) and a modern day phenomenon.
The Yankees made short work of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1941 Series. Then, two months and one day after the final game of the Yanks' four-games-to-one win, the Pearl Harbor attacks occurred, and many of the best ballplayers went off to World War II. The war-thinned ranks of the major leagues found the Yanks in the post-season again, as the team traded World Series wins with the St. Louis Cardinals during 1942 and 1943.
After 1943, the team went into a bit of a slump, and McCarth was let go early in the 1946 season. After a couple of interim managers came and went, Bucky Harris was brought in, and the Yankees righted the ship again, winning the 1947 pennant and a hard-fought battle against the Dodgers in a Series that took the Yankees seven games to win and was a harbinger of things to come for much of the next decade.
Despite finishing only three games behind the pennant-winning Cleveland Indians in 1948, Harris was released and the Yankees brought in Casey Stengel to manage. Casey had a reputation for being somewhat of a clown and for managing bad teams, such as the mid-1930s Boston Braves. Understandably, this selection was met with skepticism. His tenure, however, would prove to be the most successful in Yankees history up to that point. The 1949 Yankees team was seen as "underdogs" who came from behind to catch and surprise the powerful Red Sox on the last two days of the season, a face off that fueled the beginning of the modern Red Sox – Yankees rivalry. The post-season proved to be a bit easier, as the Yankees knocked off the Dodgers four games to one.
By this time, the great DiMaggio's career was winding down. It has often been reported that he wanted to retire before he became an "ordinary" player. His retirement was also hastened by bone spurs in his heel. 1951 was the curtain call of the "Yankee Clipper." However, it also marked the arrival of the "Oklahoma Kid", Mickey Mantle, who was one of several new stars that would fill the gap.
Bettering the clubs of the McCarthy era, the Yankees won the World Series five consecutive times under Stengel (1949–1953), which continues to be the major league record. Led by players like center fielder Mickey Mantle, pitcher Whitey Ford, and catcher Yogi Berra, Stengel's teams won 10 pennants and seven World Series titles in his twelve seasons as Yankee manager. Casey Stengel was also a master at publicity for the team and for himself, even landing a cover story in Time magazine in 1955. The 1950s was also a decade of significant individual achievement for Yankee players. In 1956, Mantle won the major league triple crown, leading both leagues in batting average (.353), home runs (52), and RBIs (130). A Yankee claimed ownership of the American League MVP six times in the decade (1950 Rizzuto, 1951 Berra, 1954 Berra, 1955 Berra, 1956 Mantle, 1957 Mantle). Pitcher Bob Turley won the Cy Young Award in 1958, the award's third year of existence.
The team won over 100 games in 1954, but the Indians took the pennant with an AL record 111 wins. In 1955, the Dodgers finally beat the Yankees in the World Series, after five Series losses to the Yankees in '41, '47, '49, '52 and '53. But the Yankees came back strong the next year. On October 8, Template:Lby, in Game Five of the 1956 World Series against the Dodgers, pitcher Don Larsen threw the only perfect game in World Series history. Not only was it the only perfect game to be pitched in World Series play, it also remains the only no-hitter of any kind to be pitched in postseason play. The Yankees went on to win yet another World Series that season, and Larsen earned World Series MVP honors.
The New York Yankees lost the 1957 World Series to the Milwaukee Braves. Following the Series, the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers left New York City for California, leaving the Yankees as New York's only team. In the 1958 World Series, the Yankees got their revenge against the Braves, and became the second team to win the Series after being down three games to one. For the decade, the Yankees won six World Series championships ('50, 51, '52, '53, '56, '58) and eight American League pennants (those six plus '55 and '57). Led by Mantle, Ford, Berra, Elston Howard (the Yankees' first African-American player), and the newly acquired Roger Maris, the Yankees burst into the new decade seeking to replicate the remarkable success of the 1950s.
During the ownership of Arnold Johnson, the Kansas City Athletics traded many young players to the Yankees for cash and aging veterans (much the same way the Red Sox had done under Frazee). When he'd bought the then Philadelphia Athletics from the family of Connie Mack in 1954, he was already the owner of Yankee Stadium, but the American League owners forced him to sell the Stadium as a condition for the purchase. He was also a longtime business associate of then-Yankees owners Del Webb and Dan Topping.
Trades between the A's and Yankees were so heavily weighted in the Yankees' favor that many fans, reporters and even other teams frequently accused the A's of being little more than a Yankee farm team at the major league level. Ironically, the Yankees' top farm team had been based in Kansas City from 1936 until they made way for the A's.
Nevertheless, the Johnson/Webb/Topping relationship significantly improved the Yankees' future prospects. In December 1959, a young outfielder named Roger Maris was acquired in one such trade, and in 1960, Maris led the league in slugging percentage, RBIs, and extra base hits, finished second in home runs (one behind Mantle), and total bases, and won a Gold Glove and the American League MVP award. All of this, however, was a prelude to the year that would follow.
The year 1961 would prove to be one of the most memorable in Yankee history. Throughout the summer, Mantle and Maris hit home runs at record pace as both chased Babe Ruth's single-season home run record of 60, and the media and the fans began referring to the duo as the "M&M Boys". Ultimately, a severe hip infection forced Mantle to leave the lineup and bow out of the race in mid-September with 54 home runs. Maris would continue the race though, and on October 1, the final day of the season, he sent a pitch from Boston's Tracy Stallard into the right field stands of Yankee Stadium, breaking the record with 61. However, Commissioner Ford Frick decreed that two separate records be kept, as Ruth's record-setting season was 154 games, and Maris hit 61 in 162 games. It would be 30 years before an eight-member Committee for Historical Accuracy appointed by Major League Baseball did away with the dual records, giving Maris sole possession of the single-season home run record until it was broken by Mark McGwire in 1998. Maris still holds the American League record.
The Yankees won the pennant with a 109–53 record and went on to defeat the Cincinnati Reds in five games to win the 1961 World Series. The 109 regular season wins posted by the '61 club remains the third highest single-season total in franchise history, behind only the 1998 team's 114 regular season wins and 1927 team's 110 wins. The 1961 Yankees also clubbed a then-major league record for most home runs by a team with 240, a total not surpassed until the 1996 Baltimore Orioles hit 257 with the aid of the designated hitter. Maris won his second consecutive MVP Award while Whitey Ford captured the Cy Young Award. Because of the excellence of Maris, Mantle, and World Series-MVP Ford, a fine pitching staff, stellar team defense, the team's strong depth and power, and its overall dominance, the 1961 Yankees are universally considered to be one of the greatest teams in the history of baseball, compared often to their pinstriped-brethren, the 1927 Yankees, the 1939 Yankees, and the 1998 Yankees.
In 1962, the sports landscape in New York changed dramatically. A new expansion team was added to the National League, and it was put in New York to fill the hole left when the Giants and Dodgers moved to California. The new team was the New York Mets, and they moved into the Polo Grounds, which would be their home until 1964, when they'd move to the current home, Shea Stadium, 10 miles to the southeast of Yankee Stadium in Flushing, Queens. That year the Mets would lose a record 120 games while the Yankees would win the 1962 World Series, their tenth in the past sixteen years, defeating the San Francisco Giants in seven games.
The Yankees would again reach the Fall Classic in 1963, but they were swept in four games by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Behind World Series-MVP Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Johnny Podres, the Dodgers' starting pitchers threw four complete games and combined to give up just four runs all Series. This was the first time the Yankees were swept in a World Series. Feeling burnt out after the season, Houk left the manager's chair to become the team's general manager and Berra, who himself had just retired from playing, was named the new manager of the Yankees.
The aging Yankees returned for a fifth straight World Series in 1964 – their fourteenth World Series appearance in the past sixteen years – to face the St. Louis Cardinals in a series immortalized by David Halberstam's book, October 1964. Despite a valiant performance by Mantle, including a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth of Game Three off of Cardinals' reliever Barney Schultz, the Yankees fell to the Cardinals in seven games, and Berra was fired. It was to be the last World Series appearance by the Yankees for 12 years.
After the 1964 season, CBS purchased 80 percent of the Yankees from Topping and Webb for $11.2 million. However, Topping and Webb stayed on as president and vice president, respectively. Jokesters at the time wondered if Walter Cronkite would become manager, perhaps with Yogi Berra doing the newscasts.
The Yankees finished in the second division for the first time in 40 years in 1965. Worse yet, the introduction of the major league amateur draft in 1965 also meant that the Yankees could no longer sign any player they wanted. Webb sold his 10 percent stake to CBS before the year was out.
Johnny Keane, the winning Cardinals manager who joined the Yankees to manage in '65, was fired during the season, and GM Ralph Houk had to do double duty as field manager until the end of the year. Topping sold his 10 percent stake to CBS at the end of the season. CBS executive Mike Burke took over as president.
The Yankees were next-to-last in the 1967 season, during which former farm director Lee MacPhail returned to the organization as GM. The team's fortunes improved somewhat, but they would not become serious contenders again until 1974. Various reasons have been given for the decline, but the single biggest one was the Yankees' inability to replace their aging superstars with new ones, as they had done consistently in the previous five decades. As mentioned above, the draft meant that the Yankees could no longer simply outbid the other teams for the best young players. Also, Topping and Webb decided as little as possible in order to make the team more attractive to buyers when they put it on the market in 1961. Their "special relationship" with the Athletics may have been a way to mask this problem. By the mid-1960s, the Yankees had little to offer in terms of trades, while Charlie Finley had taken the A's in a new direction. A more controversial theory is that the Yankees paid the price for bringing black players into the organization later than most other teams.
Also during this period the Yankees lost two of their signature broadcasters. The team fired legendary "Voice of the Yankees" Mel Allen after the 1964 season. Years later, Allen said that he was fired as a cost-cutting move by the team's longtime broadcast sponsor, Ballantine Beer. Two years later, Red Barber, a former Dodgers voice who joined the Yankees broadcast team in 1954, was also let go. Some blame Barber's firing on his on-air mention of a paltry showing of 413 fans (Yankee Stadium held 67,000 at the time) during a September 1966 home game against the White Sox. Sports biographer David J. Halberstam (different from the author of October 1964) also noted Barber's less-than-happy relationship with Joe Garagiola and even Phil Rizzuto, ex-major leaguers with whom he shared the booth.
Topping and Webb had owned the Yankees for 20 years, missing the World Series only five times and going 10–5 in the ones they participated in. By contrast, the CBS-owned teams never went to the World Series.
A group of investors, led by Cleveland-based shipbuilder George Steinbrenner, purchased the club from CBS on January 3, 1973 for $8.7 million. Mike Burke stayed on as president until he quit in April. Within a year, Steinbrenner bought out most of his other partners and became the team's principal owner, although Burke continued to hold a minority share into the 1980s.
One of Steinbrenner's major goals was to repair the Stadium, which had greatly deteriorated (along with the surrounding area) by the late 1960s. CBS had suggested renovations, but they would require the team to play elsewhere, and the Mets refused to open up their home, Shea Stadium, to the Yankees. There were even plans to move the team to a new stadium in the Meadowlands, in nearby New Jersey. In mid-1972, Mayor John Lindsay stepped in, and announced the city would buy Yankee Stadium for $24 million (ten times the amount it took to build) and lease it back to the Yankees. The renovations were then carried out, a two-year process that modernized the look of the stadium, and reconfigured some seating. The left field wall, which was approximately 60 feet farther than the right field wall, was brought in, and the bullpens were moved to behind this wall. The monuments, plaques, and flagpole that were once in the deepest point of center field were moved behind the fences in a new area between the bullpens named Monument Park. As the city also owned Shea, the Mets were forced to allow the Yankees to play there during the period.
After the 1974 season, Steinbrenner made a move that started the modern era of free agency, signing star pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter away from Oakland. Midway through the 1975 season, the Boss made another move, hiring former second baseman Billy Martin as manager. With Martin as the helm, the Yankees reached the 1976 ALCS where they won on a Chris Chambliss home run. In the 1976 World Series, but were swept by the Cincinnati Reds, the famed Big Red Machine.
Steinbrenner continued his buying of high-priced free agents, by signing star outfielder Reggie Jackson, who had been traded from the Athletics to the Baltimore Orioles at the beginning of the season, for a then record $600,000 per year. Steinbrenner, Martin and Jackson would repeatedly feud throughout Jackson's five-year contract. Nevertheless, in Game Six of the 1977 World Series, Jackson proved his worth by hitting three home runs - on the first pitch - against three different Dodger pitchers to wrap up the Series for the Yankees, earning himself the nickname "Mr. October."
Throughout the late '70s, the race for the pennant often came to a close competition between the Yankees and the Red Sox, and for fans of both clubs, every game between the two became important and added to a rivalry that was often bitter and ruthless, with brawls frequently erupting between both players and fans from the two clubs.
The Red Sox – Yankees rivalry came to a head in the 1978 season. On July 14, 1978, the Yankees were 14.5 games behind the Red Sox. The Yankees then went on a tear, and by the time they met up with the Sox for a pivotal four-game series at Fenway in early September, the Yankees were only four games out. In what would become known as the "Boston Massacre", the Yankees swept the Red Sox, winning the games 15–3, 13–2, 7–0 and 7–4. The third game was a shutout by Ron Guidry, who would lead the majors with nine shutouts, 25 wins (against only three losses) and a 1.74 ERA. Guidry also finished with 248 strikeouts, but Nolan Ryan's 260 strikeouts deprived Guidry of the pitching Triple Crown.
On the last day of the season, the two clubs finished the regular season in a tie for first place in the AL East. A one-game playoff (the 163rd game of the regular season) between the two teams was held to decide who would go on to the pennant race, with the game being held at Boston's Fenway Park. With Guidry matched up against former Yankee Mike Torrez, the Red Sox took an early 2–0 lead. In the seventh inning, the Yankees drove a stake through the hearts of their rivals' fans when Bucky Dent drove a three-run home run over the "Green Monster", putting the Yankees up 3–2. Reggie Jackson's solo home run in the following inning would seal the eventual 5–4 win that gave the Yankees their 100th win of the season and their third straight AL East title; it also gave Guidry his 25th win. (The outcome of this game, for Red Sox fans, was one of several emotional moments in their team's history that had their fans wondering if the Red Sox were under some kind of Yankee curse.)
After beating the Kansas City Royals for the third consecutive year in the ALCS, the Yankees faced the Dodgers again in the 1978 World Series. They lost the first two games on the road, but then came home to win all three games at Yankee Stadium before wrapping up their 22nd World Championship in Game 6 in Los Angeles.
On August 2, 1979, Yankees catcher and team captain Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash. Four days later, the entire team flew to Canton, Ohio for his funeral, only to return to New York later that day to play the Baltimore Orioles. In a game that was televised nationally, the emotional contest was highlighted by Bobby Murcer driving in all five of the team's runs in a dramatic 5-4 victory. Munson's uniform number (15) was retired, and his locker was not used after his death.
The post-Munson era began with a bang as the Yankees won 103 games in 1980. Reggie Jackson hit .300 and 41 home runs. He finished 2nd to George Brett in the MVP voting. However, Brett's Royals would sweep the Yankees in ALCS.
The strike-shortened 1981 season had the Yankees finish first in the first half of the season. They would defeat the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1981 ALDS in five games. Then they would sweep Billy Martin and the Oakland A's in the 1981 ALCS. The run would end on a sour note as the Dodgers defeated the Yankees in the 1981 World Series in six games.
Following the team's loss to the Dodgers in the 1981 World Series, the Yankees would go into their longest absence from the playoffs since 1921. From 1989 to 1992 they had a losing record, having spent large amounts of money on free-agent players and draft picks that did not perform up to expectations.
During the 1980s, the Yankees, led by their All-Star first baseman Don Mattingly, had the most total wins of any major league team, but failed to win a World Series (the first such decade since the 1910s). The Yankees consistently had powerful offensive teams - besides Mattingly, its rosters included, at one time or another, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, Mike Pagliarulo, Steve Sax and Jesse Barfield – but their starting pitching rarely matched the team's performance at the plate.
After posting a 22–6 record in 1985, arm problems caught up with Ron Guidry, and his career went into a steep decline in the next three years. Dennis Rasmussen, who won 18 games the following year, never matched his 1986 performance. Rick Rhoden, acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1987, won 16 games that year but only went 14–14 in 1988.
The Yankees came close to winning the AL East in 1985 and 1986, finishing second behind the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox, respectively, but fell to fourth place in 1987 and fifth in 1988, despite having mid-season leads in the AL East standings in both seasons. 1988 would be the last season the Yankees had a winning record until 1993.
By the end of the decade, the Yankees' offense was also on the decline. Henderson and Pagliarulo had departed by the middle of 1989, while back problems caught up with both Winfield (causing him to miss the entire '89 season) and Mattingly (he missed virtually the entire second half of 1990). Winfield's tenure with the team ended when he was dealt to the California Angels in May 1990. That year, the Yankees had the worst record in Major League Baseball, and their first last-place finish since 1966. The Bombers would finish at or near the bottom of the division until 1993. On July 1, 1990, pitcher Andy Hawkins became the first Yankee ever to lose a no-hitter, when the third baseman (Mike Blowers) committed an error, followed by two walks and an error by the left fielder (Jim Leyritz) with the bases loaded, scoring all three runners and the batter. The 4–0 loss to the Chicago White Sox was the largest margin of any no-hitter loss in the 20th century. Ironically, the Yankees (and Hawkins) were again no-hit for six innings in a rain-shortened game with the White Sox eleven days later.
The first significant sign of success came in 1994, when the Yankees had the best record in the AL before the season was cut short by the players' strike. A year later, the team reached the playoffs as the wild card and were eliminated only after a memorable 1995 American League Division Series series against the Seattle Mariners where the Yankees won the first two games at home and dropped the next three in Seattle.
Mattingly had the unfortunate distinction of beginning his career (1982) and ending his career (1995) in years bracketed by Yankee World Series appearances (1981 and 1996) and lost his best chance for a World Series appearance when the strike ended the 1994 baseball season.
The poor showing in the '80s and early '90s would start to change when management was able to implement a coherent acquisition/development program without interference from Steinbrenner, who had been suspended from day-to-day team operations by then-Commissioner Fay Vincent for hiring Howard Spira to uncover damaging information on former Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield. Under general managers Gene Michael and Bob Watson and manager Buck Showalter, the club shifted its emphasis from buying talent to developing talent through its farm system - and then holding onto it.
Shaking it up once again, Steinbrenner replaced Showalter and his staff with manager Joe Torre, who brought with him Don Zimmer as bench coach and former Yankees pitching star Mel Stottlemyre as pitching coach. Torre's managerial tenure is now by far the longest under George Steinbrenner's ownership. One of Showalter's coaches, popular former Yankee second baseman Willie Randolph, was retained by Torre as a third base coach. Initially derided as a retread choice ("Clueless Joe" ran the headline on the New York Post), Torre's smooth manner proved to be what the team needed. Going 8–0 on the road in the three playoff series that year, the Yankees won the 1996 World Series, defeating the Atlanta Braves in six games (after losing the first two games at home by a combined score of 16–1), and ending their 18-year championship drought. Homegrown shortstop Derek Jeter was named Rookie of the Year, an auspicious start to his association with the Yankees.
After their first World Series win since 1978, the Yankees signed lefties David Wells and Mike Stanton to improve the pitching staff. They also allowed closing reliever (and Series MVP) John Wetteland to leave as a free agent, and named setup man Mariano Rivera as the team's new closer.
Bob Watson was replaced by Brian Cashman after the 1997 season, a former Yankee intern. Cashman made many key acquisitions to improve the team, through the acquisitions of third baseman Scott Brosius, second baseman and leadoff man Chuck Knoblauch, outfielder Darryl Strawberry and starting pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez.
On May 17, 1998 David Wells, who would later claim to have been hungover that day, pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins. A year later, on July 18, 1999, which was "Yogi Berra Day" at the Stadium, David Cone pitched a perfect game against the Montréal Expos. In an amazing coincidence, Don Larsen, who pitched the perfect game in the 1956 World Series, was in attendance and had thrown out the ceremonial first pitch to Berra, his catcher for that storied game. An even more amazing coincidence is that Larsen and Wells both attended Point Loma High School in San Diego, California.
The 1998 Yankees are widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest teams in baseball history, having compiled a then-AL record of 114 regular season wins against just 48 losses en route to a Series sweep of the San Diego Padres. The '98 Yankees went 11–2 during the playoffs and finished with a combined record of 125–50. Their 125 wins is a major league record, though their AL regular season record was surpassed by the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who went 116–46 before losing to the Yankees in the ALCS.
After the 1998 season, fan favorite David Wells was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roger Clemens, who had just completed two consecutive Cy Young Award and pitching triple crown seasons. After winning the Eastern division and defeating the Texas Rangers for the third time in the 1999 American League Division Series, the Yankees met up with the their longtime rivals, the Boston Red Sox, in the next playoff round. Clemens, a former Red Sox pitcher, started the third game of the ALCS against the Sox who blasted him 13–1 in what had been a highly anticipated pitching match up between Clemens and Pedro Martínez, the winner of the Cy Young Award and the pitching triple crown that season. However, it was the only game the Red Sox won, as the Yankees won the ALCS four games to one, and then went on to sweep the Atlanta Braves in the 1999 World Series, with Clemens winning the clincher in Game Four in the Bronx. This gave the 1998–99 Yankees a 22–3 record (including four series sweeps) in six consecutive postseason series.
In 2000, the Yankees met up with the crosstown New York Mets for the first Subway Series since the 1956 World Series. To get there, they defeated the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS and then the Seattle Mariners in the ALCS. By winning the first two games of the Series, the Yankees won a total of fourteen straight World Series games from 1996 to 2000, breaking their own record of twelve (in 1927, 1928 and 1932). When the Mets scored a run against Mariano Rivera, they snapped his string of postseason consecutive scoreless innings at 34 1/3. Prior to Rivera's streak, the record had been held by Whitey Ford, who had broken Babe Ruth's scoreless World Series pitching streak. The win ran the Yankees' postseason series winning streak to nine and gave them a 33–8 record during that run. The Yankees are the most recent major league team to repeat as World Series champions and after the 2000 season they joined the Yankee teams of 1936–1939 and 1949–1953, as well as the 1972–74 Oakland Athletics as the only teams to win at least three consecutive World Series.
In the emotional times of October 2001, following the September 11 attack on New York's World Trade Center, the Yankees dramatically defeated the Oakland A's three games to two in the ALDS behind Derek Jeter's incredible "Flip Play" in Game 3, and then the Seattle Mariners, who had won 116 games, four games to one in the ALCS. By winning the pennant for a fourth straight year, the 1998-2001 Yankees joined the 1921–1924 New York Giants, and the Yankee teams of 1936–1939, 1949–1953, 1955–1958 and 1960–1964 as the only dynasties to reach at least four straight pennants. The Yankees had now won eleven consecutive postseason series over a four-year period.
However, the World Series starters for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling (later named the World Series co-MVPs), kept them in check, starting Games One, Two, Four, Six and Seven; the Diamondbacks won all four games at home, including Game Seven where Yankee star closer Mariano Rivera uncharacteristically lost the lead - and the Series - in the bottom of the ninth inning.
After the 2001 season, fan favorites Paul O'Neill and Scott Brosius retired. Tino Martinez and Chuck Knoblauch left for free agency. The Yankees had a lot of reconstructing to do; they needed to rebuild the offense that was shut down by the Johnson-Schilling duo in the 2001 World Series. They did it by signing slugger Jason Giambi and outfielder Rondell White, as well as trading David Justice to the Mets for third baseman Robin Ventura. The team also brought back fan favorite David Wells to bolster the pitching staff. The Yankees finished the 2002 season with an AL best record of 103–58, winning the division by 10.5 games over the Red Sox. The season was highlighted by Alfonso Soriano becoming the first second baseman ever to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season, as well as Giambi's 41 home runs. In the ALDS, the Yankees lost to the eventual World Series champion Anaheim Angels in four games.
In 2003, the Yankees once again had the best league record (101–61), defeated the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS, and then defeated their longtime rival Red Sox in a tough seven-game ALCS, which featured a bench-clearing brawl in Game Three and a Series-ending walk-off home run by Aaron Boone in the bottom of the 11th inning of the final game. The Yankees were then defeated by the Florida Marlins - a team with a payroll a quarter of the size of the Yankees' - in the World Series, four games to two.
After the 2003 season, the Yankees hoped to add more power to a lineup which was shut down in the previous year's Series. They gained two sluggers, signing free agent Gary Sheffield, and trading second-baseman Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers for shortstop Alex Rodriguez. With Jeter as the Yankees All-Star shortstop, Rodriguez, who had played the position his entire career, agreed to move to third base. Throughout 2004, however, the Yankees' weakness was their starting pitching. Despite this, they managed to win over 100 games with their powerful lineup, the third straight year they had done so, and reach the playoffs. In the ALDS, the Yankees once again met and defeated the Twins three games to one.
In the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox, the Yankees became the first team in professional baseball history, and only the third team in North American pro sports history (it happened in the NHL twice), to lose a best-of-seven series after taking a 3–0 series lead.
The Yankees thought they needed to improve their pitching, which faltered in their loss to the Red Sox, and they signed free-agent pitchers Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright and acquired dominant lefty Randy Johnson from Arizona. However, none of the three performed up to expectations; Pavano pitched in only 17 games in 2005, missed the entire 2006 season and pitched only 2 games on the 2007 season due to a variety of injuries, Wright was traded after starting only 40 games over two seasons, and Johnson suffered from back problems which resulted in surgery in October 2006.
The 2005 season started slowly for the Yankees, and they spent most of the season chasing the Boston Red Sox for the division title. The Yankees, however, won the division, clinching it in the second-to-last game of the season against the Red Sox. Alex Rodriguez won the American League Most Valuable Player award, becoming the first Yankee to win the award since Don Mattingly in 1985. Giambi was named Comeback Player of the Year, as voted by fans, and second baseman Robinson Canó was runner-up in Rookie of the Year voting. Another highlight of the season was the record-setting pitching by journeyman Aaron Small, who became just the fourth pitcher in history to win at least ten games without a loss.
The Angels defeated the Yankees in five games in the first round of the postseason, marking the second time in four years that the Angels beat the Yankees in the first round. Alex Rodriguez, the American League's 2005 MVP, had a poor series, hitting .133 with no home runs and no RBIs.
In the 2005–06 offseason, general manager Brian Cashman was given more control of the direction of the Yankees, and in December 2005, the Yankees signed center fielder Johnny Damon from the archrival Red Sox. The Yankees also signed Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Myers, Octavio Dotel and Ron Villone to improve their bullpen, which had been a weak point during the 2005 season.
On August 16, 2006, the Yankees officially broke ground on the new Yankee Stadium, which opened next to the current Yankee Stadium in 2009.
Despite losing starting outfielders Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield to injuries early in the season, the Yankees finished the first half of the 2006 season with 50 wins and 36 losses, three games behind the Red Sox. But they caught up to the Red Sox, and on August 18, the Yankees entered Fenway Park with a 1.5 game lead for a five game series. The series opened up with a doubleheader that the Yankees swept 12–4 and 14–11, echoing the Boston Massacre of 1978, and prompting the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy to dub the doubleheader sweep the "Son of Massacre". The Yankees went on to sweep all five games (calling the series the "Second Boston Massacre"). They outscored the Red Sox by a combined score of 49–26, and left them 6.5 games out of first place. The Red Sox would eventually end the season in third place in the AL East behind the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays, making it the first time since 1998 that the Red Sox did not finish in second place behind the Yanks.
The division win was the ninth consecutive AL East title for the Yankees. When the New York Mets won their division (snapping the Atlanta Braves' eleven-year stranglehold on the NL East), it marked the first time ever that both New York teams won their respective divisions in the same year. Their 97–65 record tied the Mets for the best record of the year, giving New Yorkers hopes for another Subway Series. However, the Yankees lost to the Detroit Tigers in four games in the ALDS, while the Mets lost the NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.
On October 11, 2006, days after the ALDS was over, tragedy struck when pitcher Cory Lidle died in a plane crash. It has yet to be determined if Lidle or his co-pilot, Tyler Stanger, who was also killed, was piloting the plane which crashed into a highrise apartment building on East 72nd Street on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Lidle was the second active Yankee to be killed in a crash of his own private plane, following Thurman Munson's death in 1979.
Changes during the 2006–07 off-season included the trading of Gary Sheffield and Jaret Wright, and the signings of Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa and former Yankee Andy Pettitte, who left the Yankees after 2003. The Yankees also re-signed pitcher Mike Mussina to a two year deal.
The start of the 2007 season proved to be very tumultuous for the Bombers. The Yankees fell well below .500 and in last place, 14.5 games behind their arch-rival Boston Red Sox. Ace starter Chien-Ming Wang was injured to start the season and the team saw extended stints on the disabled list for Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano and Jason Giambi. Centerfielder Johnny Damon was also playing hurt. The team saw a record number of rookie pitchers starting for the injury plagued Yankees that included Tyler Clippard, Darrell Rasner, Matt DeSalvo, Chase Wright, Jeff Karstens and highly touted prospect Phil Hughes. The rotation would later get a lift from Roger Clemens, who had decided to come out of retirement and rejoin the team he won his only World Series championships with. It saw the breakout years of homegrown talents of Melky Cabrera, Andy Phillips and Shelley Duncan. Prized prospect Joba Chamberlain was also brought up after the All Star break. Despite the team's slow start, the Yankees managed to win the AL Wild Card, only to lose in the ALDS to the Cleveland Indians, making it the third consecutive year the Yankees lost in the first round of the playoffs.
The 2008 season was best known for being the final season at the Old Yankee Stadium. That year, the Yankees hosted the All-Star game in which the American League won in extra innings. The Yankees had some trouble due to the struggles of Chien-Ming Wang and Phil Hughes, as well as the conversion of Joba Chamberlain into a starter. However, the Yankees did get some help from the bats thanks to Jason Giambi's Comeback Player of the Year season. On September 21, 2008, the Yankees hosted their final game at the old Yankee Stadium by defeating the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees finish in third place with an 89–73 record, missing the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
The hype of the 2009 season began when the Yankees acquired first baseman Mark Teixeira and pitchers CC Sabathia and A. J. Burnett. However, things would go sour as Alex Rodriguez admitted to using steroids and got injured. On April 16, 2009, the Yankees opened up the New Yankee Stadium. However, they lost two of the first four games to the Cleveland Indians, including one where the Indians scored 14 runs in the second inning for a 22–4 victory. Alex Rodriguez returned from the disabled list and helped lead them to a 90-44 record the rest of the way. They went on to win the division, in dramatic fashion, with 15 walkoff hits in the regular season, and two more in the postseason. They won the World Series, defeating the Phillies in a six game matchup.
The 2010 season will feature the rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox being revived to start and end the season. The Yankees and the Red Sox will start and finish the season against each other at Fenway Park. This will mark the first time since 1950 this has happened. It will also feature Joe Torre playing games against the Yankees for the first time since becoming manager of the Dodgers.
|Histories of teams in Major League Baseball|
|AL||East - Baltimore Orioles • Boston Red Sox • New York Yankees • Tampa Bay Rays • Toronto Blue Jays
Central - Chicago White Sox • Cleveland Indians • Detroit Tigers • Kansas City Royals • Minnesota Twins
West - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim • Oakland Athletics • Seattle Mariners • Texas Rangers
|NL||East - Atlanta Braves • Florida Marlins • New York Mets • Philadelphia Phillies • Washington Nationals
Central - Chicago Cubs • Cincinnati Reds • Houston Astros • Milwaukee Brewers • Pittsburgh Pirates • St. Louis Cardinals
West - Arizona Diamondbacks • Colorado Rockies • Los Angeles Dodgers • San Diego Padres • San Francisco Giants
Milwaukee Brewers (I) • Baltimore Orioles (I) • Boston Braves • St. Louis Browns • Philadelphia Athletics • New York Giants • Brooklyn Dodgers • Washington Senators (I) • Milwaukee Braves • Kansas City Athletics • Seattle Pilots • Washington Senators (II) • Montreal Expos