New York Yankees
The Ruth and Gehrig eraPerhaps the greatest irony of the Yankees dominance comes from its roots. The Yankees detente with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox circa 1920 (all three collectively known as the "Insurrectos") paid off well. Over the next few years the new owners would begin to enlarge the payroll. Many of the newly acquired players who would later contribute to their success came from the Boston Red Sox, whose owner, theater impresario Harry Frazee, had bought his team on credit and needed money to pay off his loans and purchase Fenway Park from the Fenway Park Trust. Further, as Frazee owned the strongest of the "Insurrectos" franchizes, which antagonized A.L. President Ban Johnson, Frazee faced most of the legal battles which proved costly. 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. However, pitcher-turned-outfielder Babe Ruth was the biggest of them all. Frazee traded Ruth in January of 1920, citing Ruth's demand for a raise after being paid the highest salary in baseball, and despite owning the single season homerun record at the time of the trade (hitting 29 homeruns in 1919). Frazee also wished to aid the Yankees, as giving the Yankees a box office draw would strengthen a legal ally, and reduce the pressure he faced. Ruth was also regarded as a problem, a carouser. That would continue during his Yankees years, but the ownership was more tolerant, provided he brought fans and championships to the ballpark. Two of the four Boston newspapers agreed with the deal at the time. The Red Sox did not win a World Series from 1919 until 2004 (see Curse of the Bambino), often finding themselves out of the World Series hunt as a result of the success of the Yankees. Harry Frazee finally found success on Broadway in 1927 with the musical comedy No No Nanette, which included the song "Tea For Two".
Other critical newcomers in this period were manager Miller Huggins and general manager Ed Barrow. Huggins was hired in 1919 by Ruppert while Huston was serving in Europe with the army (this would 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, having managed the team since 1918. Barrow would act as general manager or president of the Yankees for the next 25 years and may deserve the bulk of the credit for the team's success during that period. He was especially noted for development of the Yankees' farm system.
The home run hitting exploits of Ruth proved popular with the public, to the extent that the Yankees were soon outdrawing their landlords, the Giants. In 1921 the Yankees were told to move out of the Polo Grounds after the 1922 season. At that time, 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, they broke ground for a new ballpark just across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds. The construction crew moved with remarkable speed and finished the big new ballpark in less than a year. In 1923 the Yankees moved into Yankee Stadium at 161st St. and River Avenue in the Bronx. The site for the stadium was chosen because the IRT Jerome Avenue subway line, now the MTA's #4 train, went right by there, practically on top of Yankee Stadium's right-field wall. The Stadium was the first triple-deck venue in baseball and seated an astounding 58,000. It was truly "the House that Ruth Built",
From 1921 to 1928, the Yankees went through their first period of great success, winning six American League pennants and three World Series. In 1921 through 1923 they faced the Giants in the World Series, losing the first two match-ups but turning the tables in 1923 after the Big Stadium opened. Giants outfielder Casey Stengel, who even then was being called "Old Case", hit two homers to win the two games the Giants came away with. Stengel would later become a "giant" for the Yankees as a manager.
The 1927 team was so potent that it became known as "Murderers' Row" and is sometimes considered to have been the best team in the history of baseball (though similar claims have been made for other Yankee squads, notably those of 1939, 1961 and 1998). Ruth's home run total of 60 in 1927 set a single-season record which would stand for 34 years, and first baseman Lou Gehrig had his first big season with 47 round-trippers.
The Yankees would repeat as American League champions in 1928, fighting off the resurgent Philadelphia Athletics, and sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Babe Ruth hit .625 with 3 home runs in that series, while Lou Gehrig hit .545 and belted 4 round-trippers. After three also-ran seasons, the Yankees returned to the American League top perch under new manager Joe McCarthy in 1932 and swept the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, running their streak of consecutive World Series game wins to 12, a mark which would stand until the 2000 Yankees bested it in the World Series that year. Babe Ruth hit his famous "Called Shot" home run in Wrigley Field in Game 3 of that Series, a fitting "Swan Song" to his illustrious post-season career.
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