This Day in Sport - The House That Babe Ruth Built Opens


Gareth Messenger

The New York Yankees trace their roots back to 1901. They were one of several baseball teams created in the American League to challenge the National League. 

Though the team’s creators wanted to be based in New York, the NL’s New York Giants has strong connections and prevented that from happening. So, the new team was based in Baltimore and was called the Orioles. 

Then two years later in 1903, the team found a way to move to New York. So they opened Hilltop Park and became known as the Highlanders. It was during this period that the team was first unofficially referred to as the Yankees. 

Then in 1911, the Giants’ stadium burned down, so they were invited to play at the park was their own venue was being rebuilt. The relations between the teams improved, and the Highlanders were soon allowed to play at the newly built Polo Grounds, home of the Giants. The Highlanders then adopted the official name of the New York Yankees. 

The relations between the two teams again soured in 1920 after the Yankees signed the legendary Babe Ruth. His star attraction meant fans were now watching the previously known Highlanders, rather than the stereotypical team of the Big Apple; the Giants. 

The Giants then told the Yankees to move out, so the owners decided to up and move and build their own home, on a 10-acre site in the Bronx. The owners spent around $128 million (in today’s money!) buying the land and the cost of the stadium itself. 

The risk lied not with the cost, but with the size. Most baseball parks at the time seated around 30,000 people. But the franchise’s top dogs believed the pull of Ruth would draw more fans, so they opted for an historic 60,000-seater. 

Construction began in May 1922 and was completed in less than a year. 
On April 18, 1923, Yankees Stadium officially opened for business. That day was the side’s first home game of the season against the Boston Red Sox.

In the third inning, Ruth hits a three-run home run – the first in the brand new stadium. It was described in the media as a home run that was “the real baptism of Yankee Stadium” 

The attendance that day, 97 years ago, was full, with another 25,000 people turned away at the gates. 

The New York Evening Telegram are publication responsible for one of the most famous nicknames in sporting history. On the day of the opening, in its coverage, the NYET was the first to call the new stadium, “The House that Ruth Built.”