History of the New York Yankees

The New York Yankees history starts in Baltimore, where they were originally founded as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901. Two years later, the club left Baltimore, Maryland for New York City to play at Hilltop Park in Manhattan. Consequently, the team was renamed the Hilltoppers. In 1912, the Hilltoppers introduced pinstripes to their uniforms, a style that has remained with the club ever since. The next year, the Hilltoppers would move a few blocks away to the much larger Polo Grounds. The team shared the ballpark with its original occupant, the National League’s New York Giants. It was also at this time that the official name of the franchise became the Yankees. The two teams coexisted peacefully in the same ballpark until the Yankees acquired slugger Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox in 1920, causing their attendance to skyrocket. The Giants were not keen on the Yankees taking over their ballpark, so they called for the eventual vacancy of their American League counterpart. So in 1923, the Yankees packed up and moved to the Bronx where they built Yankee Stadium. Babe Ruth not only helped the Yankees obtain their own home, but set the stage for a winning franchise. Before 1920, New York had no World Series rings, let alone an AL Pennant. Babe Ruth helped propel the Yankees to their first four World Series titles. The Yankees have won 23 more titles up to current day, bringing their total to a major league best of 27. The Boston Red Sox had five before 1920 and has only won two World Series since then. Due to the change of hands of power between the two teams since 1920, the Babe Ruth trade has been called the “Curse of the Bambino,” and has started one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports.

During his time as a Yankee, Ruth played alongside other talented players. The 1927 World Series team, which included Lou Gehrig, had such a strong lineup that it was called “Murderers’ Row.” When Ruth left the Yankees in 1935, Gehrig entered the limelight and was soon joined by star Joe DiMaggio, who still holds the league’s longest hitting streak at 56 consecutive games. Together the two players led the Yankees to four consecutive World Championships from 1936 to 1939. The last season, however, was played mostly without Gehrig, who was battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the time. Gehrig would later have to retire at the end of the season because of the disease. On July 4, 1939, the Yankees became the first in the MLB to retire a player's number, and retired his #4 jersey as Gehrig gave his famous farewell speech, which included the quote, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.” Gehrig died two years later, and ALS has been nicknamed the “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” out of respect for the first baseman.

New York would break its previous record of four straight World Series Titles with five (the current MLB record) during the 1949-1953 seasons, which featured the likes of Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra. The early 1960’s saw the emergence of Roger Maris. In 1961, Maris and Mantle were called the “M&M Boys” due to the home run race that had ensued between the two. Mantle had to stop playing for some time due to a hip infection, but Maris continued to hit home runs at a fast pace and ended up with 61 home runs on the season, surpassing Ruth’s record of 60 (Mark McGwire broke Maris’ record in 1998 with 70 home runs). The Yankees won the World Series that year and the next, but didn't make another World Series appearance until 1976 as the team had difficulty finding new standouts after their previous stars retired. But things turned around for the "Bronx Bombers" when George Steinbrenner bought the franchise in 1973. Steinbrenner changed the game of baseball by ushering in the new era of free agency when he was able to “buy” hurler James Augustus “Catfish” Hunter from Oakland and later, Reggie Jackson. The Yankees broke a 14-year championship drought with a World Series ring in 1977. The team would win again in 1978, even though it was trailing Boston by 14 ½ games in mid-July. The two teams ended up tying for first place in the AL East, with New York winning the one-game playoff  5-4 to enter the playoffs. After that season, however, the Yankees went without a championship all through the 80’s and into the early 90’s. Things turned around when the franchise started to focus more on developing young farm players instead of paying big bucks for free agents. This change would end up benefiting the Yankees in years to come by producing players like outfielder Bernie Williams, catcher Jorge Posada, pitchers Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, and current captain and Yankees all-time hits leader, Derek Jeter. Under manager Joe Torre, these players helped drive the Yankees to World Series Titles in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000.

In 2004, the Yankees spent $252 million to acquire Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers. Despite having the slugger on their team, the Yankees have only managed one World Series ring since, in 2009. The Yankees are currently managed by former catcher Joe Girardi, who replaced Torre in 2008.