95 years ago today, The House that Ruth Built hosted its first game in front of over 72,000 fans. Babe Ruth christened the park by hitting a home run, a three-run shot off Red Sox pitcher Howard Ehmke, leading to a 4-1 Yankee win. The new $2.5 million ballpark was the first to feature three decks.
The New York Evening Telegram described the atmosphere as: “everything smelled of fresh paint, fresh plaster and fresh grass.” Composer/conductor John Philip Sousa led the Seventh Regiment Band in playing The Star-Spangled Banner in the pregame festivities. After a parade of the players and dignitaries, Ruth was presented with a case containing a symbolically big bat. New York Governor Al Smith threw out the first pitch to catcher Wally Schang. When asked for his take on the new park, Ruth replied, “some ball yard.”
The Bombers would close out their first season in their new digs by winning their very first World Series, defeating the rival New York Giants. Future manager Casey Stengel hit the stadium’s first postseason homer that year.
The cathedral of baseball stood for 85 years until the team moved across the street to The House that George Built in 2009. 39 AL Pennants, 26 World Series, four All Star Games and countless memorable plays passed through the original Yankee Stadium. Being home to the likes of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra and Jeter made it a truly historic park.
Those of us who were lucky enough to experience it will never forget the atmosphere or the feeling of walking through the turnstiles to watch a game. I’m sure the legends are meeting at the bat up in heaven for a pickup game to celebrate.