Bronx, New York
Tenant: New York Yankees (AL)
Architect: Osborn Engineering (1923); Praeger-Kavanaugh-Waterbury (1976)
New York Yankees tickets:
Capacity: 58,000 (1923); 62,000 (1926); 82,000 (1927); 67,113 (1928); 62,000 (1929); 71,699 (1937); 70,000 (1942);67,000 (1948); 67,205 (1958); 67,337 (1961); 67,000 (1965); 65,010 (1971); 54,028 (1976); 57,145 (1977); 57,545 (1980).
Location: Left field (NE), East 161st Street; third base (NW), Doughly Street, later Ruppert Place; home plate (W), Major Degan Expressway/Interstate 87 and Harlem River; first base (SW), East 157th Street; right field (SE), River Avenue and IRT elevated tracks; in the southwest Bronx.
Dimensions: Left field: 280.58 (1923), 301 (1928), 312 (1976), 318 (1988); left side of bullpen gate in short left-center: 395 (1923), 402 (1928), 387 (1976), 379 (1985); right side of bullpen gate: 415 (1937); deepest left-center: 500 (1923), 490 (1924), 457 (1937), 430 (1976), 411 (1985), 399 (1988); left side of cente-field screen: 466 (1937); center field: 487 (1923), 461 (1937), 463 (1967), 417 (1976), 410 (1985), 408 (1988); deepest right-center: 429 (1923), 407 (1937), 385 (1976); left side of bullpen gate in short right-center: 350 (1923), 367 (1937), 353 (1976); right side of bullpen gate: 344 (1937); right field 294.75 (1923), 295 (1930), 296 (1939), 310 (1976), 314 (1988); backstop: 82 (1942), 80 (1953), 84 (1976); foul territory: large for the catcher behind home plate, but small for fielders down the foul lines.
Fences: Left-field foul line: 3.92 (3 wire above .92 concrete, 1923), 8 (canvas, 1976); left-center, left of visitors’ bullpen: 3.58 (3 wire above .58 concrete); right of visitors’ bullpen: 7.83 (3 wire above 4.83 concrete), 7 (canvas, 1976); center field, left screen when up for hitters’ background: 20 (1953), 22.25 (1959), 22.42 (1954); screen when down: 13.83, (canvas, 1976); right-center, right of screen: 14.5 (3 wire above 11.5 concrete, 1923); left of home bullpen: 7.83 (3 wire above 4.83 concrete, 1923); right of home bullpen: 3.58 (3 wire above .58 concrete, 1923), 8 (canvas, 1976), 9 (canvas, 1979); right field foul line: 3.75 (3 wire above .75 concrete, 1923), 10 (canvas, 1976).
On February 6, 1921, the Yankees announced the purchase of 10 acres of property in the west Bronx. The land, purchased from the estate of William Waldorf Astor for $675,000, sat directly across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds, where the Yankees' had played since 1913. On their newly acquired property, the Yankees would build the most famous ballpark in history.
As originally designed, Yankee Stadium was to feature three decks and a roof which completely encircled the playing field. However, ownership scaled back the plan such that the grandstand didn't quite extend to the foul poles. The left field grandstand was extended in 1928. In 1937, the right field grandstand was extended and concrete bleachers replaced the original wooden ones, bringing the stadium to its current configuration.
For forty years, Yankee Stadium was home to a steady stream of championship teams. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig passed on their legacy to Joe DiMaggio and Phil Rizzuto, who then passed it on to Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. So mighty were the Yankees, and such a draw was the team and its stadium, that by 1958 the the Giants and Dodgers, New York's other Major League Baseball teams, had moved to California. For four years, from 1958 through 1961, there was only one place to go to watch Major League Baseball in New York City.
However, in the late sixties, an uncharacteristic drought of Yankee championships befell the team. Meanwhile, the expansion Mets where playing and winning championships in the new Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadow. By the early seventies, Yankee Stadium had become an old and obsolete stadium in a decaying neighborhood hosting a mediocre team.
Renovations were made in 1966 and 1967, but more than that was needed. In 1972, the team sold their stadium to the city and signed a thirty year lease. During the 1974 and 1975 seasons, the Yankees played at Shea Stadium while the city made major renovations to Yankee Stadium. The many steel columns which supported the roof and upper decks were removed, and the upper decks were cantilevered over the lower deck. The original roof and its famous copper facade were removed and replaced with a smaller, more modern roof. The facade was replicated above the new scoreboard which ran the entire length of the bleachers.
The renovated Yankee Stadium opened with much fanfare in 1976, and the Yankees wasted no time living up to their "new" stadium. The team appeared in the World Series in each of the next three years, winning the fall classic twice. Players like Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Ron Guidry picked up where Mantle and Berra left off a decade earlier. Except for brief period in the early 1990s, the Yankees have always fielded winning teams since their ballpark was renovated. In the late 1990s and 2000s, the Yankees have been the team to beat, appearing in six World Series while winning four of them. A cavalcade of stars, including Derek Jeter and Roger Clemens, have graced Yankee Stadium during these years.
On Sunday, September 21, 2008, Yankee Stadium closed its gates for good. Before the game, fans were allowed to walk on the field, and several former Yankees stars attended a formal ceremony. After a rain delay, the Yankees defeated the Baltimore Orioles 7-3. The following season, the team began playing at the new Yankee Stadium, built across the street.
Yankee Stadium Trivia:
More on Yankee Stadium:
Recommended Reading (bibliography):
New York Yankees
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Aerial view of Yankee Stadium © 1992 by Mike Smith.
Updated September 2008
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