The Yankees have been one of the most noted teams throughout history. Between shattering records and winning countless World Series, the Yankees have always been in the spotlight. But how did it all start? Well, in 1903, the Highlanders, as they were first called, were purchased from Baltimore and moved to New York. Their famous pinstripe uniforms were introduced in 1912 and the following year, the team name was changed to the New York Yankees.
In 1920, as many can recall, the most infamous trade in baseball history is made as Babe Ruth joins the Yankees from the Boston Red Sox. As 1921 approaches, the Yankees win their first Atlantic League Pennant. The Yankees then settled into their permanent home in the Bronx during 1923 and win their first World Championship trophy, playing against their rival, the NY Giants. From the years 1925 to 1939, Lou Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games, setting remarkable standards for all future ball players. Meanwhile, in 1927, Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in one season creating a record that will stand strong until Roger Marris breaks it with 61 homers in 1961.
The Yankees also go on to win another World Series. As the 1932 season came to a close, the Yankees won yet another world championship and Lou Gehrig set another record by hitting four home runs in a single game. To this day, no Yankee has been able to beat Gehrig’s record. Then, Babe Ruth hit his incredible 700th home run in 1934, just as the Yankees acquired another great, Joe DiMaggio. Over the next few years, the Bronx Bombers go on to win a record six World Series titles in eight consecutive years. But sadly, in 1939, Lou Gehrig’s streak comes to an end and the Yankees honor him by retiring his number 4. Gehrig’s number is the first number ever to be retired in Yankees History. As 1941 came and went, Joe DiMaggio achieved his 56-game hitting streak that still stands today. Many believe it will never be broken. Unfortunately during the same year, Lou Gehrig passed away at the age of 37. Babe Ruth’s number is the second number to be retired by the Yankees in 1948 and within the next five years, the Yankees win five more World Series trophies. By 1951, Mickey Mantle joined the ranks of the Yankees as Joe DiMaggio announced his retirement from baseball.
Mickey Mantle drew attention in 1953 with his outstanding home runs and forced statisticians to record the distance of his blasts. He recorded a 565 foot shot against the Senators in Washington. Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series history during 1956, helping the Yankees defeat their rival, the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Yanks start the decade in grand style during 1960, capturing five consecutive pennants and two World Series victories. This stretch included some of the most talented and popular players to wear the pinstripes. Team leaders included Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard, Joe Pepitone, and Roger Maris. In 1961, the Yankees became responsible for one of the most memorable baseball seasons ever as they continue their on-field dominance with another World Championship. It is in this year that the most hallowed record in baseball is broken as Roger Maris eclipsed Babe Ruth’s single season home run record. This new record will stand until Mark McGuire belts 70 homers in 1998, 37 years later. Mickey Mantle’s number gets retired in 1969, signaling the end of an era in Yankees history.
However, in 1973, “The Boss” George Steinbrenner emerges as part of the new ownership of the Yanks, who was owner of the team until 2010, when he passed away leaving them to his sons Hank and Hal Steinbrenner. While the Yanks play the next two seasons in Shea Stadium due to refurbishments, they also acquire Catfish Hunter, the most coveted and most expensive player in free agency. The following year, Billy Martin becomes manager of the club for the first time. He will eventually manage the Yankees a total of five separate times during his illustrious, and tumultuous, managerial career. Reggie Jackson is signed to the team in 1976 and in 1977, Jackson helps the Yankees capture their 21st World Championship.
Sadly in 1979, we lose another Yankees legend, Thurman Munson, who dies in a plane crash. His number is immediately retired by the team. Then in 1983, Dave Righetti pitches a no-hitter on the 4th of July, the first no-hitter for the Yankees since Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956. In the most bizarre situation of the season, an apparent game winning home run by George Brett of the Royals is denied after the umpire decides that Brett has used too much pine tar on his bat. This “pine tar” game is finally settled a month later with the Royals being awarded the victory.
By the end of the 1987 season, Don Mattingly puts himself in the record books by hitting a home run in eight consecutive games tying the MLB record previously held by Dale Long. Donnie Baseball caps his season by hitting six grand slams, another Major League record. Sadly, in 1989, Yankee legend Billy Martin dies abruptly in an automobile accident. The Yanks honor the great Reggie Jackson by retiring his number in 1993 just as inspirational pitcher Jim Abbott hurls a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium. In 1995, another great is lost when Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle dies of cancer. In 1996,The Yankees win their first World Series in eighteen years, the longest drought in franchise history. They defeat the heavily favored Atlanta Braves in six games. The season is highlighted by Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter at Yankee Stadium and then in 1997, Don Mattingly officially retires from baseball.
Over the years, there have been many Yankees legends who helped to change the face of baseball. Many of these legends including the late Yogi Berra and the recently retired Derek Jeter have set numerous records and are honored in Monument Park at Yankees Stadium.
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