Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium is a baseball stadium in New York City that is the home of the New York Yankees, a Major League baseball team. Located at East 161st Street and River Avenue in The Bronx, it has hosted Yankees home games since 1923 and has a capacity of 57,545. It was formerly the home of the New York Giants football team, and once hosted dozens of boxing's most famous fights.

Yankee Stadium is one of the most famous sports venues in the United States, due to its primary occupants having won more World Series championships than any other team. Its nickname, "The House that Ruth Built", comes from the iconic Babe Ruth, the baseball superstar whose prime years coincided with the beginning of the Yankees' winning history.

In 2006, the Yankees began construction on a new $1.3 billion stadium in public parkland adjacent to Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are expecting to open their new home in 2009. Once the new stadium opens, most of the old stadium, including all of the above ground structure, is to be demolished to become parkland

History and design

Upon its opening, Yankee Stadium soon came to be known as "The House that Ruth Built", a play on the nursery rhyme "The House that Jack Built", and in reference to the Yankees' star player, Babe Ruth. Ruth's power as a drawing card had enabled the Yankees to build their own stadium in the Bronx after their rivals across the Harlem River, the New York Giants, were threatening to evict them.

In the first game at Yankee Stadium, April 18, 1923, Ruth hit the first home run at the Stadium, a three-run shot to help defeat his former team, the Boston Red Sox, 4-1. Boston Red Sox first baseman George Burns got the first hit ever in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees also won their first World Series during the Stadium's inaugural season, a rare coincidence that would not occur again until the St. Louis Cardinals did it in 2006.

When Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston and Jacob Ruppert, the team's owners since January 1915, footed the bill for construction of a $2.5 million stadium, they did so at considerable financial risk and speculation. Baseball teams typically played in 30,000-seat facilities. Huston and Ruppert invoked Ruth's name when asked how the Yankees could justify a ballpark with 60,000 seats.

Many people felt three baseball teams could not prosper in New York City, but Huston and Ruppert were confident the Yankees could outlast the more established Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants of the National League. (This doubt was amplified by baseball's sagging popularity after the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, in which eight Chicago White Sox players were expelled for conspiring with gamblers to fix that year's World Series.)

Huston and Ruppert were undeterred, and they also had little choice but to relocate. In 1920, Ruth's first with his new team, the Yankees drew 1.3 million fans to the Polo Grounds--outdrawing the Giants. In 1921, the Yankees won their first American League pennant (they lost to the Giants in the World Series). This exacerbated Giants owner Charles Stoneham's resentment of the Yankees and precipitated his insistence that the Yankees find another place to play their home games. The Giants derisively suggested that the Yankees relocate "to Queens or some other out-of-the-way place."

Huston and Ruppert explored many areas for Yankee Stadium. Of the other sites being considered, the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, at Amsterdam Avenue and 137th Street in Manhattan, nearly became reality. Consideration was also given to building atop railroad tracks on the West Side of Manhattan (an idea revived in 1998) and to Long Island City, in Queens.

The area Huston and Ruppert settled on was a 10-acre lumberyard within walking distance from, and in sight of, Coogan's Bluff. The Polo Grounds was located on the Manhattan side of the Harlem River, at 155th Street and Eighth Avenue. Huston and Ruppert purchased the site from William Waldorf Astor for $600,000. Construction began May 5, 1922, and Yankee Stadium opened to the public less than 11 months later. When it did, Fred Lieb of the New York Evening Telegram dubbed it "The House That Ruth Built". (Critics of its cozy right field dimensions would sometimes call it "The House They Built for Ruth", although Ruth also lost many homers to the cavernous left and center field area.) New York Governor Alfred E. Smith (who would become the Democratic Party's candidate for president in 1928) threw out the first pitch.
John Philip Sousa led one of his famed marching bands. In 1962 a Rice University Alum John Cox '27 gave Yankee Stadium to Rice University. In 1971 the city of New York forced (via eminent domain) Rice to sell the stadium for a mere $2.5 million. During the period in which Rice owned the stadium, the stadium was painted blue and white.

As originally built, the stadium seated 58,000. For the stadium's first game, the announced attendance was 74,217 (with another 25,000 turned away); however, Yankees business manager Ed Barrow later admitted that this number was likely heavily overestimated. Regardless of what the figure was, it was undoubtedly more than the 42,000 fans who attended game five of the 1916 World Series at Braves Field, baseball's previous attendance record. However, during the 1920s and 1930s, the Yankees' popularity was such that crowds in excess of 80,000 were not uncommon. It was referred to as "The Yankee Stadium" (with the "s" in "stadium" sometimes lowercase) until the 1950s.

The Stadium as it looked during 1928-1936Yankee Stadium was the first three-tiered sports facility in the United States and one of the first baseball parks to be given the lasting title of stadium. Baseball teams typically played in a park or a field. The word stadium deliberately evoked ancient Greece, where a stadium was unit of measure--the length of a footrace; the buildings that housed footraces were called stadiums. Yankee Stadium was one of the first to be deliberately designed as a multi-purpose facility.
The field was initially surrounded by a (misshapen) quarter-mile running track, which effectively also served as a warning track for outfielders, a feature now standard on all major league fields. The left and right field bleacher sections were laid out at right angles to each other, and to the third base stands, to be properly positioned for both track-and-field events and football. The large electronic scoreboard in right-center field, featuring both teams' lineups and scores of other baseball games, was the first of its kind.

As Yankee Stadium owed its creation largely to Ruth, its design partially accommodated the game's left-handed-hitting slugger. Initially the fence was 295 feet from home plate down the right-field line and 350 feet to near right field, compared with 490 feet to the deepest part of center field, nicknamed Death Valley. Because bleacher fans in left-center field were considerably farther away from home plate (460 feet) compared with the right-field bleachers, those who sat in the former were considered "out in left field", another phrase that originated at Yankee Stadium. The right-field bleachers were appropriately nicknamed Ruthville.
Through the 2007 season, Yankee Stadium has hosted 37 World Series, far more than any other baseball stadium. The Stadium has also hosted the major-league All-Star Game three times: 1939, 1960, and 1977. As part of its curtain call, Yankee Stadium is scheduled to host the 2008 All-Star Game.

Yankee Stadium underwent major renovations from 1936 through 1938. The wooden bleachers were replaced with concrete bleachers, shrinking the "death valley" area of left and center substantially, although the area was still much deeper than in most ballparks; and the second and third decks were extended to short right center. Gradually, all of the outfield bench seats were replaced with chair seats in the 1930s and 1940s. In the 1966-67 offseason, the stadium's green exterior was painted white, and the interior was also repainted

1974-75 Renovation/"Yankee Stadium II"

By the late 1960s, Yankee Stadium's condition had badly deteriorated, and the surrounding neighborhood had gone downhill as well. In 1971, CBS, which owned the Yankees at the time, proposed extensive renovations to Yankee Stadium. However, this would require the Yankees to play their home games at Shea Stadium in Queens, the regular home of the New York Mets. The Mets, as Shea's primary tenants, refused to sign off on letting the Yankees play there as well--effectively delaying the renovations. CBS then gave serious thought to building a stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands before selling the Yankees to George Steinbrenner in 1972.

Finally, in mid-1972, Mayor John Lindsay stepped in and announced the city would buy Yankee Stadium for $24 million (by comparison, it cost $2.4 million to build in 1923 — adjusted for inflation, $6 million in 1972 dollars) and lease it back to the Yankees. Since the city owned Shea Stadium as well, the Mets had little choice but to agree. Yankee Stadium closed on September 30, 1973 for the two-year facelift; the Yankees played the 1974 and 1975 seasons in Shea Stadium.

Since a significant portion of the stadium was demolished and rebuilt, some consider the rebuilt Yankee Stadium a different facility from the pre-renovation stadium. For example, the ESPN Sports Almanac considers the renovated stadium to be "Yankee Stadium II," and the pre-renovated facility to be "Yankee Stadium I". Textbooks on the subject, such as Green Cathedrals, make no such distinction, since much of the original structure was retained and re-used, in contrast to the total demolition of facilities such as Cleveland Stadium or Wembley Stadium, whose in-place replacements were totally new structures.
The most noticeable difference resulting from the renovation was the removal of the 118 columns that reinforced each tier of the Stadium's grandstand. The Stadium's roof, including the distinctive, 15-foot copper frieze that circled its interior, was replaced by the new upper shell; new lights were also added. A white replica of this frieze was built at the top the wall behind the bleachers. The playing field was lowered by about seven feet and moved forward slightly.
Yankee Stadium installed the first instant-replay display in baseball.
All seats in the old stadium were replaced with wider, more modern plastic seats, and the upper deck was expanded upward by approximately nine rows, as modern building techniques allowed them to do so. There appears to be an extra guardrail in the upper seating of the modern stadium where the original runways to the upper level concourse once ran.

A new upper concourse was built above where the old concourse existed and the old exits were closed in by new seating. The old, closed-in upper-deck concourse still exists to this day and is used by stadium employees for transport. A new "loge/ middle-tier" section was also built for the new stadium with far fewer seats to create a larger press box and 16 luxury boxes. About half of the bleachers seats were eliminated; the middle portion was converted to what is today called "the black," a dark, unused area that serves as the batter's eye. A wall was built behind the bleachers, preventing strap-hangers from watching the game perched on the elevated subway platform above River Avenue. All told, the Stadium was reduced to a listed capacity of 57,545.

The Stadium's dimensions were narrowed, leaving the monuments and plaques that today comprise Monument Park behind an inner fence (they had been in fair territory). Also, deep center was significantly reduced to a distance more consistent with modern parks.
Several new restrooms were added throughout the stadium, along with three elevators. The southern border of the Stadium, 157th Street, was closed to cars and became part of the Stadium's property.
The city also seized property on the southern side of this street for a four-story parking garage (about 2,300 parking spaces) to suit the increasingly suburban crowd who the Yankees were hoping to attract. No money was spent to help the residents and business owners of the neighborhood, fueling the sometimes uneasy relationship between the Yankees and their neighbors.

The cost of the 1970s renovations, $160 million, was originally borne by New York City and is now being paid off by New York State. At the time, many referred to Yankee Stadium as the House That Lindsay Rebuilt, because the costly renovations were approved by New York City's Board of Estimate, based on the insistence of Mayor John Lindsay. Lindsay had orchestrated the city's purchase of Yankee Stadium from Rice University (the university in Houston, Texas owned the stadium thanks to a bequeathment from John William Cox '27) and the nine-acre parcel of property the Stadium occupies from the Knights of Columbus, also the recipients of a gift by Cox.

The Stadium reopened on April 15, 1976. More than 54,000 fans saw the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 11-4, and the "new Stadium" hosted its first playoff and World Series games that October.

In the 1980s, the fence was moved in on the left field side, allowing for the retired numbers row that currently exists as a lead-in to Monument Park

Boxing at Yankee Stadium

When Yankee Stadium opened in 1923, the Polo Grounds continued to host boxing matches. But Yankee Stadium soon encroached on that territory. Benny Leonard retained the lightweight championship in a 15-round decision over Lou Tendler on July 24, 1923, in front of more than 58,000 fans. It was the first of 30 championship bouts to be held at the Stadium. (This excludes dozens of nontitle fights.) The boxing ring was placed over second base; a 15-foot vault contained electrical, telegraph, and telephone connections.
In July 1927, the aging former heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey came from behind to defeat heavily favored Jack Sharkey by delivering several questionable punches that were deemed illegal. Sharkey had similarly bad luck in a July 1930 heavyweight championship bout at Yankee Stadium, when his knockout punch to Max Schmeling was ruled illegal; Schmeling won by default. In July 1928, Gene Tunney upheld the heavyweight title against Tom Heeney at Yankee Stadium, and then retired as champion.

Perhaps the most famous boxing match ever was held at Yankee Stadium on June 22, 1938, when Joe Louis, a black American, squared off against Schmeling, a German. With the Nazi Party on the verge of taking over much of Europe, Adolf Hitler followed the rematch carefully, imploring Schmeling to defeat Louis, whom Hitler publicly berated. This left some with a moral predicament: root for the black fighter or for the Nazi. Schmeling had defeated Louis in 1936, but in defense of his title Louis knocked out Schmeling in the first round. This was one of eight championship fights the "Brown Bomber" fought at Yankee Stadium.

College Football at Yankee Stadium

When an ill Ruth could not lead the Yankees to the World Series in 1925, college football took center stage at Yankee Stadium that fall. The fiercely competitive Notre Dame-Army game moved to Yankee Stadium, where it remained until 1947. In the 1928 game, with the score 0-0 at halftime, legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne gave his "win one for the Gipper" speech (with reference to All-American halfback George Gipp, who died in 1920); Notre Dame went on to defeat Army, 12-6. The 1929 game between the two teams had the highest attendance in the series at 79,408.[3] The 1946 Army vs. Notre Dame football game at Yankee stadium is regarded as one of the 20th century college football Games of the Century
Notre Dame played 24 games at Yankee Stadium, going 15-6-3. Army played 38, compiling a 17-17-4 record. New York University played more games there than any other school, 96, using it as a secondary home field from 1923 to 1948, with a record of 52-40-4. Nearby Fordham University played 19 games there, going 13-5-1.

Eight college football games were played at Yankee Stadium on Thanksgiving Day, the first seven by New York University. NYU beat Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1931 and 1932, defeated Fordham in 1936, lost to Oregon State in 1928, lost to Carnegie Tech in 1929, and lost to Fordham in 1934 and 1935. In the eighth game, in 1963, Syracuse University beat Notre Dame, 14-7. This was a rematch following the teams' controversial 1961 game won by Notre Dame, 17-15.

The Gotham Bowl was scheduled to premiere at Yankee Stadium in 1960, but was canceled when no opponent could be found for Oregon State University. The 1961 game was moved to the Polo Grounds, and when just 6,166 people came to Yankee Stadium for the 1962 game, in which the University of Nebraska defeated the University of Miami, 36-24, the Gotham Bowl was never played again.

Starting in 1971, the Stadium hosted the Whitney M. Young Urban League Classic, a game between historically black colleges, often featuring Grambling State University of Louisiana, coached by Eddie Robinson, the first college coach to win 400 games. The Classic helped to spread the fame of Grambling and other similar schools. Yankee Stadium hosted its final Classic during the 1987 season, also the last time a football game was played there. Grambling lost to Central State University of Ohio, 37-21

The Classic has been held at Giants Stadium in New Jersey's Meadowlands Sports Complex ever since, though the Yankees remain a supporter of the event.

Professional football at Yankee Stadium

In 1926, after negotiations failed with the fledgling NFL and the Chicago Bears, Red Grange and his agent C.C. Pyle formed the first American Football League and fielded a team called the New York Yankees based in Yankee Stadium. The league failed after only one year. A second New York Yankees football team, not related to the first, split its home games between Yankee Stadium and Downing Stadium as it competed in the second AFL in 1936 and 1937. A third AFL New York Yankees took the field in 1940 and became the New York Americans in 1941.
The New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference played their home games at Yankee Stadium from 1946 to 1949.

The New York Giants of the National Football League played their home games at Yankee Stadium from 1956 to 1973. On December 28, 1958, Yankee Stadium hosted the National Football League championship game, frequently called "The Greatest Game Ever Played." The Baltimore Colts tied the Giants, 17-17, on a field goal with seven seconds left. Led by quarterback Johnny Unitas, the Colts won in overtime, 23-17. The game's dramatic ending is often cited as elevating football to one of the United States' major sports.

All-Star Games at Yankee StadiumOn July 11, 1939, Major League Baseball held its seventh All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, in concert with the World's Fair being held at Flushing-Meadows in Queens. Yankees manager Joe McCarthy loaded his American League team with pinstripes: Bill Dickey (catcher), Joe DiMaggio (outfield), Joe Gordon (second base), Red Rolfe (third base), George Selkirk (outfield), and Red Ruffing (pitcher) were all in the starting lineup. Reserve players included Frankie Crosetti (shortstop), Lou Gehrig (first base), Lefty Gomez (pitcher), and Johnny Murphy (pitcher). The American League won, 3-1, behind a home run by DiMaggio, in front of more than 62,000. This was the second All-Star Game held in New York; the Polo Grounds hosted the event in 1934.

From 1959 to 1962, Major League Baseball held two All-Star Games. On July 13, 1960, Yankee Stadium hosted baseball's second All-Star Game in three days. The National League won both games. In the latter game, Whitey Ford was the starting pitcher. Yogi Berra (catcher), Mickey Mantle (outfield), Roger Maris (outfield), and Bill Skowron (first base) were in the starting lineup; Jim Coates (pitcher) and Elston Howard (catcher) were reserves. The National League won the Yankee Stadium game, 6-0, tying a record with four home runs, including one by hometown favorite Willie Mays. The 38,000 fans who attended the game saw Ted Williams in his final All-Star appearance.

Showcasing its new renovation, Yankee Stadium hosted the All-Star Game on July 19, 1977. With the Yankees defending their 1976 pennant, Billy Martin managed the American League team on his home field. The National League won its sixth consecutive All-Star Game, 7-5, in front of more than 56,000 fans; the senior circuit's streak would reach 11. Reggie Jackson (outfield) and Willie Randolph (second base) started for the American League; Sparky Lyle (pitcher), Thurman Munson (catcher), and Graig Nettles (third base) also made the team. Jim Palmer was the game's starting pitcher because Nolan Ryan refused to play when Martin asked him.

Yankee Stadium is scheduled to host its final All-Star Game in 2008 in honor of its last year before the club moves to New Yankee Stadium.

On July 1, 1939, Max Baer defeated Lou Nova at Yankee Stadium, in the first televised boxing match in the United States. The event was broadcast by television station W2XBS, forerunner of WNBC-TV. (The World Series was not televised until 1947.) On September 27, 1946, Tony Zale knocked out New York native Rocky Graziano for the middleweight crown; it was the first of three bouts between Zale and Graziano.

On June 25, 1952, middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson sought his third title against light-heavyweight champ Joey Maxim at Yankee Stadium. More than 47,000 saw Robinson outfight Maxim but lose due to heat exhaustion in round 14 (due to the 104-degree weather). The referee who declared Maxim the winner was the second that night; the first had left the fight due to heat exhaustion.

After its 1970s renovation, Yankee Stadium hosted only one championship fight. On September 28, 1976, a declining Muhammad Ali defended his heavyweight crown against Ken Norton. To that point, Norton was one of only two boxers who had beaten Ali (in 1973); this was their third and final meeting. Norton led for most of the fight, but Ali improved in the later rounds to win by unanimous decision.

Other events at Yankee Stadium

Beginning in 1950, the stadium began holding religious conventions of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The first convention attracted 123,707 people, more in a single day than any other stadium event up to that time. These conventions would continue on until the late 1980s. When room ran out in the stands, the ladies were asked to remove their heels, and people were brought in to sit in the outfield. There was also a makeshift camp nearby where the program was broadcast for hundreds others to listen to. Francis Cardinal Spellman (1957), Pope Paul VI (1965), and Pope John Paul II (1969 as a cardinal, 1979 as pope) and Pope Benedict XVI (2008) all celebrated Mass at the ballpark.
On June 21, 1990, a rally was held at Yankee Stadium for Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison following the end of apartheid in South Africa. On September 23, 2001, Yankee Stadium hosted a memorial service for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
The first concert ever held there was an ensemble R&B show on June 21, 1969, put together by the Isley Brothers; the first rock concert held at the stadium was on June 22, 1990, by Billy Joel.
It was also the site of two dates of U2's ZOO TV tour in 1992. During one song, Bono paid tribute to the show's setting with the line "I dreamed I saw Joe DiMaggio/Dancing with Marilyn Monroe...". Pink Floyd also performed two sold-out shows at this venue on their 1994 tour in support of The Division Bell album.

On March 10, 2006, Yankee Stadium saw its first and only wedding at home plate. Blind sportswriter Ed Lucas, who has been a member of the Yankee family for over 40 years, got special permission from the Yankees, the City of New York, and Major League Baseball to exchange vows with his fiancée, Allison Pfieffle, on the same spot where Lou Gehrig made his famous farewell speech, among the many notable events.
Over 400 people, including present and former members of the Yankee family were in attendance to see the happy couple united, and the ceremony was broadcast on ESPN, the YES Network, NBC's Today show and other national media outlets. Ed and his bride were introduced years before by longtime friend and baseball Hall of Fame Member Phil "The Scooter" Rizzuto. During the reception at the Stadium Club, Yankee owner George Steinbrenner surprised the crowd with an announcement that he would be picking up the entire tab for the wedding and honeymoon.

National Hockey League (NHL) executives have inquired about the possibility of using Yankee Stadium for an outdoor ice hockey match featuring the New York Rangers in the 2008-2009 season after the successful reception of the Heritage Classic and AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic outdoor games. If approved, it would be the final sporting event at the current stadium

The World Series at Yankee Stadium
Due to the Yankees' frequent appearances in the World Series, Yankee Stadium has played host to more postseason games than any stadium in baseball history.

The Stadium, since its 1923 opening, has played host to 37 of 84 World Series (heading into 2008), with the Yankees winning 26. Sixteen of those World Series were clinched at Yankee Stadium:

New York Yankees, in 1927, 1938, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1977, 1996, and 1999 St. Louis Cardinals, in 1926 and 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1955, their only World Championship won in Brooklyn before moving to Los Angeles. Milwaukee Braves, in 1957, the only World Series won by a Milwaukee team. Cincinnati Reds, in 1976 Los Angeles Dodgers, in 1981 Florida Marlins, in 2003
The New Stadium

A new stadium for the Yankees is currently under construction on part of the former site of Macombs Dam Park. The new stadium's design is to incorporate the design of Yankee Stadium from its original 1923 exterior as well as from the 1970s renovation. The new stadium is expected to cost $1.3-billion, and will be 63-percent bigger than the current one; however, capacity will be down slightly, to 53,000 from 56,000. The address will still be the same (161st Street and River Avenue), the seats will be the same color as in the current stadium (blue), and the dimensions of the field will be exactly the same.
As for the current stadium, The above-ground portion is to be completely demolished, with the existing clubhouses, which are underground, remaining in use for replacement park facilities.[9] Three baseball fields are to be built atop the Yankee Stadium field after the Yankees' new stadium opens.[10] These new recreation facilities were designed to alleviate the loss of parkland to the Yankees' new stadium. Monument Park is to be relocated in the new stadium. Some of the parts from the Old Yankee Stadium are being auctioned off at Ebay. Some of these parts include ; seats, bases, or even walls from the stadium. The new stadium will be more convenient for those traveling by train.

The exterior of Yankee Stadium on June 16, 2007. Notice the cranes behind the Stadium.Before building their $1.3 billion stadium, the Yankees secured $425 million in public subsidies and permission to tear down 400 trees and take over 22 acres of public parkland north of the team's East 161st Street home; New York City retains ownership of the Yankees' new tract of land. The public costs include acquiring land for the stadium, building parking garages, tearing down Yankee Stadium, lost rent and parking revenue from Yankee Stadium, and tax breaks.
It does not include a $91 million Metro-North station, which will be paid for entirely by the public (with money shifted from other parts of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's capital-spending budget). Of the stadium's remaining cost, up to 40 percent may be subsidized through reduced revenue-sharing contributions. The Yankees' $200 million payroll is consistently the highest in baseball, making them the largest contributor to the league's revenue-sharing pool. It has been estimated that the Yankees will contribute one-third of their new stadium's cost.

The Yankees' stadium and free-parkland acquisition were proposed in June 2005 without input from the community but with pre-approval from pertinent legislative bodies. The plan was approved within days of its announcement, setting underfunded community groups and parks advocates back from the beginning. Even as fierce opposition mounted, they were left with no room to maneuver to save the neighborhood's parkland. One year after the Yankees' new-stadium news conference, the team cleared all legislative, financial, procedural, and legal hurdles. Construction began in the summer of 2006.
The Yankees expect to begin the 2009 season in their new stadium. As part of Yankee Stadium's last trip around the block, it is scheduled to host the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, with the final regular season game scheduled to be played September 21, 2008 against Baltimore (coincidentally, the Yankees' city of origin).