‘Old Yankee Stadium’s Rise and Fall: The Complete Story of “The House That Ruth Built”’

Dayn Perry at CBS Sports, in a magnificently comprehensive look back at the original Yankee Stadium, which opened 100 years ago:

On April 18, 1923, it was a brisk 49 degrees in New York City, a spring in name only. The wind whipped up dust from the dirt roads and vacant lots abutting the ballpark that now rose from the planed-out soil of city plot 2106, lot 100. Those same winds whirled the eight-foot copper baseball bat that served as a weathervane from atop the in-play flagpole in center field. There had been a farm there, granted to John Lion Gardiner just prior to the Revolutionary War, and then a sawmill, and the surrounding sweeps of land seemed more suited to just that — an old farm or sawmill — rather than what now scraped the sky.

And what loomed above, three decks high, was a concrete-and-steel colossus unexampled in sports and certainly baseball. The forging of the stadium at 161st and River displaced 45,000 cubic yards of Bronx soil. Then it devoured 20,000 yards of concrete; four million feet of lumber; 800 tons of re-bar; 2,200 tons of steel beams and channels and angles and plates; 13,000 yards of topsoil and 116,000 square feet of Merion Bluegrass sod; one million screws of brass.

It was not the first stadium to be raised up in the medium of modern construction materials, but it was the most hulking, the most impossible-seeming. Unlike Wrigley, Fenway, Shibe, Crosley or others of the prior generation, Yankee Stadium defied words like “cozy” or “intimate” at every grand angle. In that way, it augured a coming era in which ballparks would no longer tuck into their existing neighborhoods but rather barge in with shoulders wide and arms akimbo. The original design of Yankee Stadium of course reflected some geographic limitations, but its final presence looked and felt like an unyielding one. Yankee Stadium was big and bad like its warrior-poet Babe Ruth — like its titular hometown nine soon would be — and it authored a reimagining: that the “ballpark” could be elevated and sprawled into the realm of “stadium.” And so it was the first ballpark to be called a stadium.

The second-finest ballpark ever built.

Thursday, 30 March 2023