Last Updated on October 15, 2023 at 12:47 am by Michael Bennington
The first World Series title win on October 15, 1923, planted the seeds of Yankees lore that has spread over 27 championships. However, it germinated in an ambiance of adversity.
The landscape of New York baseball underwent a significant transformation in 1920 when the Yankees pulled off a monumental move, securing Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox. Prior to this historic acquisition, the team had existed in relative obscurity, sharing the Polo Grounds with the more established New York Giants. The Yankees’ history in Polo Grounds began in 1913, following their earlier stint as the New York Highlanders in Washington Heights from 1903 to 1912. During this time, both teams coexisted, with the team contributing added revenue and serving as tenants to the Giants.
However, the arrival of Babe Ruth dramatically altered the baseball landscape in the city. Fans flocked to see Ruth redefine home run records, out-hitting entire teams. This newfound attention didn’t sit well with the Giants and their manager, John McGraw. As a result, they decided not to renew the Yankees’ lease at the end of 1922. Fortunately for the Yankees, they didn’t have to search far for a new home. They crossed the Harlem River and established their own ballpark, Yankee Stadium, within view of the Polo Grounds.
Before they had a ballpark to call their own, the Yankees found themselves pitted against their landlords in consecutive World Series matchups in 1921 and 1922. The 1921 installment marked the inception of the famous Subway Series, with the Giants emerging as victors in a best-of-nine series, triumphing 5-3. The following season witnessed the Giants securing a clean sweep in a best-of-seven contest, laying the groundwork for a third consecutive showdown in 1923.
The Bronx hosts its inaugural World Series game as the New York Giants triumph over the New York Yankees with a score of 1-0 in a memorable Game 3 pitching contest. Art Nehf outmatches Sad Sam Jones on the mound, while Casey Stengel supplies the lone run with a seventh-inning home run. The Giants claim a 2-1 series lead after this victory, but the Yankees rebound by winning the subsequent three games and securing their inaugural World Championship.
The Yankees’ road to fame began in 1923
In this pivotal year, the Yankees made their debut at the iconic Yankee Stadium, affectionately known as the “House that Ruth Built.” Guided by the leadership of manager Miller Huggins, the Yankees amassed an impressive 98-54 record, outshining the Detroit Tigers by a substantial 16-game margin. In contrast, the Giants concluded their season with a 95-58 record, comfortably eclipsing the Cincinnati Reds by a four-and-a-half-game lead.
Given the close proximity of the two teams, it was agreed that they would alternate hosting games. The odd-numbered games were to be played in the Bronx, while the even-numbered games took place at Coogan’s Bluff. The series opener featured Mule Watson taking the mound for John McGraw’s Giants, countered by Waite Hoyt on the Yankees’ side.
Bob Meusel and Whitey Witt gave the Yanks a strong 3-0 advantage early. But, the Giants were able to secure a lead with four runs in the third. As the game progressed, Bullet Joe Bush took over the pitching duties for the Yankees, while Rosy Ryan assumed the mound for the Giants. The score remained locked at 4-3 until the seventh inning, when Joe Dugan delivered a clutch triple, driving in Bush and knotting the game.
Casey Stengel smashed a home in the ninth enabling the Giants to prolong their lead. This proved to be the decisive blow as Rosy Ryan efficiently retired the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth, sealing a 5-4 victory for the Giants.
Game 2 unfolded at the Polo Grounds, with Herb Pennock taking the mound for the Yankees, and Hugh McQuillan getting the start for the Giants. The second inning featured a home run exchange between the two teams, as Aaron Ward launched one for the Yankees, and Irish Meusel responded with a home run for the Giants.
Babe Ruth, in particular, demonstrated his power in the fourth inning, hitting his first home run of the series. He wasn’t finished yet, adding another home run in the fifth inning. These remarkable displays of offense propelled the Yankees to a 4-2 victory in the game.
The Yankees showcased their Bomber caliber
In Game 3, played in the Bronx, the hitters on both teams struggled to make an impact. The dominant pitching of Sad Sam Jones for the Yankees and Art Nehf for the Giants kept the game scoreless. However, Casey Stengel once again emerged as a key player, delivering the pivotal hit for the Giants. Stengel hit the second home run in the postseason history of Yankee Stadium, and this time, the ball actually left the park.
The Giants started with Jack Scott while Bob Shawkey opened for the Yankees. However, Scott’s outing was short-lived as he was removed without retiring a single batter in the second inning. The Yankees capitalized on this opportunity, exploding for six runs. Everett Scott played a pivotal role, driving in the first two runs while Bob Meusel added two more. The Yankees continued to add runs in the third and fourth innings, rendering the Giants’ late four-run surge insufficient to impact the game’s outcome. As a result, the series was once again tied after the Yankees secured an 8-4 victory.
With the World Series deadlocked at two games apiece, the Yankees entrusted Bullet Joe Bush with the start in Game 5, while the Giants sent Jack Bentley to the mound. The Yankees initiated an early offensive burst, scoring three runs in the first inning. This rally was ignited by Meusel’s triple, followed by his run on a sacrifice fly by Wally Pipp. Stengel contributed a solitary run in the second inning, extending the Yankees’ lead to 7-1. Joe Dugan provided a pivotal moment with a three-run inside-the-park home run, and both Pipp and Meusel chipped in with additional RBIs. The Yankees aimed to seize control of the World Series, and Bush delivered a strong performance on the mound, conceding just one run on three hits. Ultimately, the Yankees secured an 8-1 victory.
In Game 6 at the Polo Grounds, the Yankees entrusted Herb Pennock with the crucial start, seeking their first-ever World Championship, while Art Nehf took the mound for the Giants. Babe Ruth set the tone by launching a home run in the first inning, but the Giants returned to level the score.
The Giants gradually extended their lead to 4-1 by manufacturing runs in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, with Frank Snyder’s home run being the standout moment. In the eighth inning, the Yankees loaded the bases against a fatigued Nehf. Still, with the bases loaded, Nehf walked Bullet Joe Bush, who had come in as a pinch hitter. Rosy Ryan entered the game as the new pitcher and the score became 4-3. Bob Meusel had the laugh with his game-changing hit, bringing home three runs on a single.
With Bush now taking the mound, he completed the final two innings, sealing the Yankees’ 6-4 victory. This victory marked their first-ever World Championship.
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