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On This Date in Sports October 12, 1923: The first time

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The World Series comes to the Bronx for the first time, as the New York Giants beat the New York Yankees 1-0 in a classic Game 3 pitchers’ duel. Art Nehf outduels Sad Sam Jones as Casey Stengel provides the offense with a seventh-inning home run. The Giants take a 2-1 lead with the win, but the Yankees win the next three games and win their first World Championship.

The dynamic of baseball in New York changed in 1920 when the Yankees shocked the world and acquired Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox. Prior to that, the Yankees had played in virtual anonymity as they shared the Polo Grounds, with the more established New York Giants. The Yankees moved into the Polo Grounds in 1913, after playing in Washington Heights as the New York Highlanders from 1903-1912. The two teams were able to co-exist as the Yankees provided extra revenue while serving as boarders for the Giants. When Babe Ruth arrived the Yankees became the hot ticket as fans lined up to see him set new standards in home runs, hitting more by himself than most teams did at the time. This did not sit well with the Giants, and Manager John McGraw, who evicted the Yankees at the end of their lease in 1922. The Yankees did not have to go far to find a new home as they went across the Harlem River, within sight of the Polo Grounds.

Before getting a home of their own, the Yankees faced their landlords in back-to-back World Series in 1921 and 1922. In the first Subway Series in 1921, the Giants beat the Yankees in a best-of-nine series 5-3. The following season saw the Giants sweep a best-of-seven series. Setting the stage for the third straight showdown in 1923. In their first season at Yankee Stadium, dubbed the “House that Ruth Built”, the Yankees led by Miller Huggins posted a record of 98-54, finishing 16 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. The Giants meanwhile, finished 95-58 to beat out the Cincinnati Reds by four and a half games.

With the two teams so close, it was decided that teams would alternate home games, with the odd games being in the Bronx, while the even games were at Coogan’s Bluff. In the opener, Mule Watson got the start for McGraw’s Giants, while Waite Hoyt was on the mound for the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers started strong taking a 3-0 lead on RBI hits by Bob Meusel and Whitey Witt. However, in the third, the Giants went in front with four runs, powered by a two-run triple by Heinie Groh. With Bullet Joe Bush on in relief for the Yankees and Rosy Ryan now in the game for the Giants, the score remained 4-3 until the seventh inning, when Joe Dugan laced a triple scoring Bush with the tying run. In the ninth, the Giants regained the lead with an inside-the-park home run by Casey Stengel the first postseason home run in the Bronx. That would prove to be the game-winner as the Ryan set down the Yankees in order in the bottom of the ninth to win 5-4.

Herb Pennock started Game 2 at the Polo Grounds for the Yankees, while Hugh McQuillan started for the Giants. In the second inning, the teams traded homers, as Aaron Ward went deep for the Yankees, while Irish Meusel answered for the Giants. Babe Ruth’s bat came alive in the fourth inning with his first home run of the series. He would add another in the fifth as the Yankees won the game 4-2.

In Game 3 back in the Bronx, the bats on both sides were silent as both Sad Sam Jones of the Yankees and Art Nehf of the Giants were in control. Casey Stengel again delivered the big hit for the Giants, hitting the second home run in the postseason history of Yankee Stadium, this one actually leaving the park.

In the Polo Grounds, the Giants had Jack Scott on the mound, looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead, while Bob Shawkey started for the Yankees. Scott would not last long as he was chased without retiring a batter in the second, as the Yankees exploded for six runs. Everett Scott delivered the biggest hit scoring the first two runs, with a  bases-loaded single, while Bob Meusel’s two-run triple capped the rally. The Yankees continued to pour it on with runs in the third and fourth, as the Giants four runs late in the game, came too late to help as the series was even again after the Yankees won 8-4.

With the series even at two games apiece, Bullet Joe Bush got the start for the Yankees in Game 5 as Jack Bentley was on the mound for the Giants. The Yankees struck for three runs in the first as Meusel tripled and scored on a sac-fly by Wally Pipp. After Stengel pushed across a lone run in the second, the Yankees took a 7-1 lead thank to a three-run inside the park home run by Joe Dugan. Pipp and Meusel each added another RBI, as the Yankees looked to take control of the World Series. Bush was on top of his game, allowing one run on three hits as the Yankees won 8-1.

Herb Pennock was on the mound at the Polo Grounds for Game 6, as the Yankees looked to win their first World Championship with Art Nehf going for the Giants. Babe Ruth opened the scoring with a first-inning home run, but the Giants answered with a Ross Youngs RBI single in the first. The Giants would eventually take a 4-1 lead, scoring runs the fourth, fifth and sixth, highlighted by a Frank Snyder home run. In the eighth, the Yankees loaded the bases against a tiring Nehf who loaded the bases. With the bases loaded, Nehf walked the pitcher Bullet Joe Bush who came up a pinch hitter. Rosy Ryan came in and walked Joe Dugan the first batter he faced to make it 4-3. Following a strikeout of Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel delivered the big hit, scoring three runs on a single as Dugan came on an errant throw by center fielder Bill Cunningham. Bush meanwhile took over on the mound, pitching the final two innings with Jack Bentley grounding to second to end the game as the Yankees won 6-4 to claim their first World Championship.