New York Yankees
The HighlandersThe franchise's first park in New York was located at 165th St. and Broadway in Manhattan, near the highest point on the island. Consequently the field was known as Hilltop Park and the team quickly became known as the New York Highlanders. The name was also a reference to the noted British military unit The Gordon Highlanders, as the team president from 1903 to 1906 was named Joseph Gordon. Today the site of the original Hilltop Park is occupied by buildings of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.
As the Highlanders, the team enjoyed success only twice, finishing in second place in 1904 and 1910; but otherwise, much of their first fifteen years in New York was spent in the cellar. Their somewhat tainted ownership, along with the questionable activities of some players, notably first baseman Hal Chase, raised suspicions of game-fixing, but little of that was ever proven.
Their best chance came on the last day of the 1904 season, at the Hilltop. New York pitcher Jack Chesbro threw a wild pitch in the ninth inning which allowed the eventual pennant-winning run to score for the Boston Americans. This event had historical significance in several ways. First, the presence of the Highlanders in the race had led the Giants to announce they would not participate in the World Series against a "minor league" team. Although Boston had won the pennant, the Giants still refused to participate. The resulting tongue-lashing of the Giants by the media stung their owner, John T. Brush, who then led a committee that formalized the rules governing the World Series. 1904 was the last year a Series was not played, until the strike-truncated year of 1994. For fans of the team formally named the Red Sox in 1908, the 1904 season-ender would prove to be the last time Boston would defeat the Yankees in a pennant-deciding game for literally a century.
From 1913 to 1922 the team would play in the Polo Grounds, a park owned by their National League rivals, the Giants. Relations between the clubs had warmed when the Giants were allowed to lease Hilltop Park while the Polo Grounds was being rebuilt in 1911 following a disastrous fire. During the early 1900s, the nickname "Yankees" was occasionally applied to the club, as a variant on "Americans", verifiably as early as June 21, 1904, when Patsy Dougherty was traded from Boston to New York, and the Boston Herald's report was headlined "Dougherty as a Yankee". That matter-of-fact wording suggests the nickname was already well-known. The New York Herald, on April 15, 1906, reported "Yankees win opening game from Boston, 2-1". The name grew in popularity over the team's first decade. With the change of parks in 1913, the "Highlanders" reference became obsolete, and the de facto team nickname became exclusively "Yankees". Before very long, New York Yankees had become the official nickname of the club.
By the mid 1910s, owners Farrell and Devery had become estranged and both were in need of money. At the start of 1915, they sold the team to Colonel Jacob Ruppert and Captain Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston. Ruppert was heir to the Ruppert brewery fortune and had also been tied to the Tammany Hall machine, serving as a U.S. Congressman for eight years. Ruppert later said, "For $450,000 we got an orphan ball club, without a home of its own, without players of outstanding ability, without prestige." But now with an owner possessing deep pockets, and a willingness to dig into them to produce a winning team.
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