After purchasing a defunct American League Baltimore club and moving them to New York, owners Frank Farrell and Bill Devery were approved as a franchise in the American League. The team, renamed The Highlanders and their home field, off 168th Street and Broadway became known as Hilltop Park. The team would play at Hilltop Park until 1912. When the team moved into a new home field, The Polo Grounds IV, they also officially changed their names to the New York Yankees. They would acquire pitcher turned outfielder Babe Ruth for cash from the Boston Red Sox in 1920. This was the beginning of what was known for 86 years as “The Curse of the Bambino.”
Ruth excelled in New York and was a phenomenal hitter which began to draw bigger crowds then the New York Giants, with whom they shared their home field. After facing (and losing to) the Giants in the 1921 World Series, they were asked to leave at the end of the 1922 season. The Yankees began construction of what would become known as Yankee Stadium across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds. The Yankees again made it into the World Series in 1922 and again faced the Giants and they again experienced defeat. The following season, the Yankees moved into Yankee Stadium, the first ever triple-deck venue which sat 58,000 fans. Again the World Series would boil down to the Yankees and the Giants only this time, the Yankees would prevail thus beginning the end of the Giants dominance in New York. Eventually, the Giants would be forced to move to the West Coast.
The Yankees were again in the World Series in 1932 sweeping the Chicago Cubs for their 12th title. It was within this series that Babe Ruth would famously “Call his shot” and make good on the call. Ruth would remain with the Yankees for two more seasons before jumping leagues and joining the National League’s Boston Braves. Lou Gehrig would take up for Ruth but in 1936 the team would sign rookie Joe DiMaggio. Joltin’ Joe, as he would become known, would lead the Yankees to four consecutive World Series titles, from 1936 thru 1939. It was then, in 1939, that Lou Gehrig became ill with ALS (nicknamed Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and was forced to retire. After having his number retired by the Yankees franchise in 1939, Gehrig succumbed to the disease.
1941 would prove to be a big year for not only the New York Yankees, who beat the Brooklyn Dodgers for the World Series, but also for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The ensuing war would pull many of the best players in major league baseball to serve in the military. Even so, the Yankees found a way to win again, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1943 World Series.
The team was purchased by Del Webb, Dan Topping and Larry MacPhail in 1945 and by 1947 was again in the World Series, this time facing the Cleveland Indians. In a tough 7-game series, the Yankees would prevail for their 11th championship. It would be two seasons later that the Yankees would face the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. The series went five games and in game five, the lights at Ebbets Field were turned on marking the first time that a World Series game would finish under artificial lights. The Yankees would prevail in five games for their 12th Championship and begin a streak of four consecutive World Series Titles.
As DiMaggio’s career began to fade, he retired at the end of the 1951 season which was the same year that Mickey Mantle joined the Yankees. Mantle would severely injure himself in game two as one of Mantle’s cleats got caught in a drain cover forcing him to the ground in pain. He would be unable to return but the Yankees prevailed nonetheless in 6-games. The series was also a first for the Giants Willie Mays. The 1952 World Series featured the Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers once again with the outcome the same, the Yankees taking the series in seven games for their 15th World Series Championship. Their 16th championship would come the following season as the Yankees and the Dodgers again faced off in a rematch. The outcome was the same with the Yankees taking the series in six games. The two teams would take a three season break from the World Series but would again meet in the Fall Classic in 1956. The Yankees would take that series as well for their 17th World Series title. They would meet the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series, losing to them in seven games despite having home field advantage. The Yankees would take revenge against the Braves as they met again in the 1958 World Series. This time the Yankees would take the series in seven games. This would close the decade out as far as championships were concerned.
The ‘60’s produced two championship squads with the 1960 squad losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games with Pittsburgh capturing their third championship. The 1961 squad were led by Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, both of whom were trying to reach Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. In the World Series, the Yankees met up against the Cincinnati Reds after setting a MLB record for most home runs in a regular season with 240. This feat was mostly accomplished by Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Bill Skowron and John Blanchard who all hit over 20. The Yankees took the Reds out in five games to secure their 19th Championship. As the defending American League and World Series Champions, the Yankees would meet their old rivals the San Francisco Giants in the 1962 World Series. The Giants had not won the NL since 1954 and was the first since the team migrated from New York in 1958. After losing to the Yankees in a 13-day seven game series, the Giants would not reach the World Series for the next 27 seasons. For the Yankees, celebrating their 20th World Championship would have to last 15 years as the next time they would play for one would not be until 1977.
The Yankees were purchased in 1973 for $8.7 million by a group of investors led by George Steinbrenner who would manage to buy out most of his partners. Immediately, Steinbrenner would begin building another championship squad bringing in Ace Pitcher James Augustus “Catfish” Hunter and later hiring retired second baseman Billy Martin. Those moves, among many, proved fruitful as the Yankees met the Cincinnati Reds in the 1976 World Series. The Reds would end up sweeping the Yanks in four games. The Yankees would return to the 1977 World Series only this time they faced the Los Angeles Dodgers with slugger Reggie Jackson on the team. The Yankees would take the series (and their 21st Championship) four games to two and Reggie Jackson would win his second MVP Award. The two teams would meet again in the 1978 World Series but the outcome would be the same with the Yankees taking their 22nd Championship in six games. It would be another 18 seasons before the Yankees would taste another championship.
Joe Torre took the helm of the New York Yankees at the conclusion of the 1995 season and the ’96 season saw the emergence of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. With their consistent play, the Yankees clinched their first AL title in 18 seasons. The Yankees would face the Atlanta Braves and win in six games despite the fact that the Braves outscored them 26-18. This began a mini run for the Yankees as they would win championships in 1998, 1999 and 2000. The 2000 championship against the New York Mets was the first “Subway Series” since the 1956 World Series and the Yankees beat the Mets in five games. It would be another nine seasons before the Yankees would again play for a championship.
With the opening of New Yankee Stadium, the Yankees came out in the spring of 2009 ready to compete for the AL Championship. They began by setting a Major League record for playing error-free ball for 18-games. After the All Star Break, the Yankees went on an 85-22 tear, winning the AL East. They went on to defeat the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS and the LA Angels in the ALCS to meet the defending World Series Champions Philadelphia Phillies. It would take six games but the Yankees would win their 27th World Series title. The following season, the Yankees would again compete for the ALCS but would fall to the Texas Rangers in six games.
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