On This Date in Sports April 18, 1923

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Baseball in the Bronx becomes a reality as Yankee Stadium opens for the first time, with the New York Yankees taking on the Boston Red Sox with a record 74,200 fans on hand. It only seems natural that Babe Ruth hits the Stadium’s first home run against Bob Ehmke as the Yankees beat Boston 4-1, with Bob Shawkey earning the win. The new stadium is the first to ever feature three decks of seating.


New York’s American League franchise arrived in 1903 after playing their first two seasons as the Baltimore Orioles. Christened the New York Highlanders for playing at the highest point on Manhattan in Washington Heights at Hilltop Park. The ballpark often had problems with field conditions and after just ten seasons was beginning to fall apart. The last game played at Hilltop Park was in 1912, as the Highlanders agreed to pay rent to the National League’s New York Giants to play at the Polo Grounds in 1913. Upon moving to the Polo Grounds, the team changed its name to the New York Yankees.

The Yankees and Giants coexisted at the Polo Grounds for the rest of the decade, however, when the Yankees acquired Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox in 1920 the relationship became strained. The Yankees began drawing more fans than the Giants to see the Babe play as he made the home run popular. After the two teams played in the 1921 World Series, the Yankees were told to find a new home. Still playing at the Polo Grounds in 1922, Colonel Jacob Ruppert began construction of a new stadium, privately financed on the site of an old lumber yard in the Bronx just across the Harlem River, and within sight of the Polo Grounds. The Yankees had considered lands at Long Island City in Queens and an area on the Westside of Manhattan near the railyards.

Built larger than any other stadium, the new ballpark in the Bronx has a seating capacity of 60,000. Costing $2.5 million, Yankee Stadium was built in less than a year as it was constructed with a durable new concrete that was invented by Thomas Edison. The stadium’s opening brought in dignitaries and politicians from all around. A buzz an excitement led to a record crowd estimated at 74,200 fans before the gates were finally closed with 25,000 standing outside hoping to get in. The previous record for attendance at a baseball game had been 42,000 at a World Series game at Fenway Park in 1916.

At 3 pm the opening ceremonies began at Yankee Stadium, with famed conductor John Phillip Sousa leading the Seventh Regiment Band in the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner”. New York Governor Al Smith threw out the first pitch as Babe Ruth was presented with a large bat, as the press proclaimed the new stadium, “The House that Babe Ruth Built”. Manager Miller Huggins sent Bob Shawkey to the mound for the opener, while Frank Chance of the Boston Red Sox opposed with Bob Ehmke. After two scoreless innings, the Yankees go the first run of the game in the third inning when Joe Dugan singled home Shawkey. One batter later, Babe Ruth added three more runs, with the first home run at Yankee Stadium. Boston would get their lone run in the seventh on a Norm McMillan triple, as the Yankees won the game 4-1. Bob Shawkey went the distance for the win, allowing just one run on three hits while recording five strikeouts.


The Yankees first season at their new stadium in the Bronx, as they won a third straight American League Pennant. They would face the Giants in the World Series for the third straight season, this time winning their first World Series in six games.