Cover image for Yankees century : 100 years of New York Yankees baseball
Yankees century : 100 years of New York Yankees baseball
Stout, Glenn, 1958-
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Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2002.
Physical Description:
478 pages : illustrations ; 28 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
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GV875.N4 S79 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
GV875.N4 S79 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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The definitive narrative history of the world's greatest sporting franchise For more than 100 years, the New York Yankees have dominated baseball as no team ever has, in any sport. They have provided the very definition of a dynasty. Pinstripes and pennants. Aprils and Octobers. The House That Ruth Built in the city that never sleeps. A century of greatness embodied in one city and its team. But it hasn't always been that way, and it has never been easy. Yankees Century is the full history of this storied franchise, with the most compelling and authoritative narrative of the team ever written, more than 250 stunning photographs, and essays by the game's colorful scribes. On an unforgettable journey through time, you'll read about the unlikely scheme to build a ballpark in Manhattan atop solid rock, the magic of the Bambino rounding the bases, the stately DiMaggio taking the field, Lou Gehrig's poignant goodbye, Yogi Berra's hilarious verbal gaffes, Jack Chesbro's legendary spitball, Derek Jeter's mind-bending plays, and much more.

Author Notes

Glenn Stout has been the series editor of "The Best American Sports Writing" since its inception & has written three illustrated biographies with Richard A. Johnson: "Ted Williams," "Joe DiMaggio," & "Jackie Robinson." He lives in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This is the one-hundredth season of Yankees baseball. Stout takes an exhaustive look at that phenomenon, going back to original newspaper reports and documents, from the team's humble--not to say sordid--beginnings through the legendary champions of the `20s and `50s, the disasters of the late '60s, and the magical late '90s. While his prose isn't always scintillating, Stout is opinionated, knowledgeable, and steeped in the kind of historical minutiae fans adore: In 1905, a game usually took about 90 minutes; Yankee Johnny Murphy (and later general manager of the Mets) was the first relief pitcher to be called a "fireman" in 1939. Sidebars listing Yankee MVPs, Gold Glove winners, leaders in saves, and so on reveal the astounding richness in talent assembled by the Yankees over a century. Stout understands that the Yanks are utterly connected to New York, and his vision always ties the team to the city. A profusion of photographs, some familiar, some not, and a few well-chosen reprints, like Molly O'Neill's "It's only a game. It's more than a game," add to this volume's hefty charms. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

Stout, funnily enough the author of Red Sox Century, documents decade by decade the ups and downs of the most storied franchise in sports, a team that almost never was. In 1903, Ban Johnson, then president of the American League, sat in his office in the Flatiron building fighting his two-year-old battle to place a new franchise in New York. At a time when "the subway system took shape underground, [when] working farms still dotted the upper reaches of Manhattan," Johnson had to compete with then Giants owner Andrew Freedman, who legally could do little to keep Johnson out, but as a Tammany Hall member "practically" could stop the franchise before the first pitch. Johnson eventually won out, and the Yankees soon erected their first stadium in Washington Heights and signed their first star, Wee Willie Keeler. From this departure point the book examines various eras of Yankee dominance, usually centered on the star of that age, be it Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jackson or Jeter. The book (which includes writings by Ira Berkow, Howard Bryant, Charles Devens, David Halberstam, Ring Lardner and Molly O'Neil) traces the key games and events of the years and blends them into a strong narrative. A well-written and thorough look at the Yanks, it will nevertheless take a true (and devoted) fan to devour all the play-by-play of past games. Still, this is essential for Yankees fans. (Sept. 4) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Love them or hate them, the Yankees have undeniably been the premier team over the last century. This book does ample justice to their great history, with essays by such contributors as David Halberstam on George Weiss (the great behind-the-scenes maker of the 1940s-50s Yankees) and Ira Berkow on legendary manager Casey Stengel. The chapters are divided chronologically into each particular dynasty. The more than 250 photographs provide an added dimension to the tale of "Yankee Pride," while appendixes provide year-by-year statistical details. Stout, series editor of The Best American Sports Writing, and Johnson, curator of the Sports Museum of New England, have previously collaborated on Red Sox Century: 100 Years of Red Sox Baseball. This book will have more than regional appeal and it is highly recommended for most libraries. Even Yankee haters will find much to enjoy. Paul Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner19021903Invasion of the ImmigrantAs he sat in his office in the Flatiron Building in January 1903, Ban Johnson, the founder of the American League and its first president, may well have pondered these words. From his perch in what was then the world's tallest building, the island of Manhattan, a place of unbounded promise, splayed out before him. At the time Manhattan comprised 22.6 square miles, 12 major avenues, 220 consecutively numbered streets, some 2,200 city blocks, and nearly 2.2 million inhabitants. It was easily the most valuable and densely populated piece of real estate in the United States. Yet Manhattan supported only one professional baseball team the New York Giants of the National League and one ballpark the Polo Grounds. And thus far, despite Johnson's best efforts, it appeared as if it were going to stay that way. The crack of bat against ball was a long way off, for the American League could find no place to play in Manhattan. Like a new boy in the neighborhood, Johnson sat on the other side of the fence, bat and ball in hand, hoping he'd one day be allowed into the game. Two years earlier his American League had mounted a challenge to the long-established National League, becoming a second "major" league and going to war against the senior circuit. Since then Johnson had counted many successes. The AL had raided the NL of many of its best players and placed teams in direct competition with the NL in Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Boston, supplemented by new teams in cities that the National League had ignored Detroit, Washington, Cleveland, and Baltimore. The new league was profitable from the beginning as fans flocked to its ballparks, where general admission cost only 25 cents, half the going rate in the NL, and players avoided the rough play that marred the NL. The NL took notice and tried too late to stop Johnson. In 1901 Giants owner Andrew Freedman even tried to create a trust in which all NL teams would be owned collectively. The plan failed, but that didn't stop Freedman. He had to protect his investment. In July of the 1902 season, Freedman made a last-ditch attempt to thwart Johnson by trying to enact an unfriendly takeover by the American League's Baltimore Orioles franchise. His partner in the scheme was the pugnacious player-manager and part-owner of the Orioles, John McGraw. Once Johnson's ally, McGraw had had a falling-out with the league founder over his own belligerent on-field behavior and a string of broken promises. Most notably, Johnson had promised McGraw a piece of a proposed New York franchise and was now backing off. McGraw contemptuously referred to him as "Czar Johnson." He demanded his release from the Orioles in exchange for forgoing a debt, and then sought revenge. He signed a contract to manage and play with the NL New York Giants, and in a complicated transaction, he facilitated a surreptitious sale of Baltimore to NL interests backed by Freedman. With the Orioles now in their hostile possession, McGraw and Freedman pillaged the franchise. They released its best players and immediately signed them to National League contracts, sending stars like outfielder Joe Kelley to Cincinnati and pitcher "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity to the Giants. The Orioles became a major league franchise in name only. Freedman and McGraw hoped their unfriendly takeover would weaken Johnson's league and cause its demise. For if the Orioles couldn't complete the schedule, each team in the league would be left with a spate of open dates, and league standings would be so artificial as to be meaningless. They hoped that fans would rapidly lose interest and turn their affections back to the National League. But Johnson was nothing if not resilient. The American League was an extension of his own personality brash, bold, and tenacious. And it was his. The NL was governed by an unruly mob of owners who spent most of their time bickering and stabbing each other in the back. Johnson was the American League, and his rule was law. The National League always underestimated Johnson's commitment and creativity. When the Orioles were left with too few players to field a team, Johnson invoked a clause in the team's charter that allowed him to take back a 51 percent stake in the franchise. He then forced the other AL owners to restock the franchise with their spare parts. The Orioles survived and managed to finish the 1902 season as a bad yet still competitive team. The American League remained intact. But Johnson wasn't through. One crony once described him as "a man who always remembers a friend but never forgets an enemy." He planned to turn the Baltimore situation to his advantage and take action on his long-standing desire to move the Orioles to New York. As he later told the New York Times, in early August 1902 "we took our first official action toward invading New York City." That was precisely what Johnson had in mind an "invasion." The National League, which had already repelled several earlier sorties, prepared to do so again. For two years Johnson had led an unsuccessful assault against the National League's New York fortress, banging at the gates, alternately pleading and scheming to be allowed in. He knew that a franchise in the lucrative New York market was the greatest prize of all and the final proof he needed to convince both fans and players that the American League was indeed the equal of the National League. He had even moved the American League offices from Chicago to New York, making his intentions clear by acquiring office space in the brand-new Flatiron Building, New York's most prestigious business address. But thus far the political machinery of Manhattan had conspired to keep him offshore like an unwelcome immigrant. At the turn of the century New York was a city of extremes. Even as the first skyscrapers broke through the horizon and the subway system took shape underground, working farms still dotted the upper reaches of Manhattan and horses that died in the street were left to rot in the gutter. Great mansions lined Fifth Avenue, home to the scions of families named Astor and Vanderbilt, while the nameless and homeless and faceless had already found their way into the rat traps and backrooms of the Bowery. Men who made fortunes on Wall Street by day lost them in the gambling dens and bordellos of the Tenderloin by night, then were rolled and left bleeding in the alleys. Common criminals with the right political connections could become the most powerful men in the city. Anything in New York was available anytime at any price, from the finest silk, the best champagne, and the biggest steak to the youngest boys, cheapest girls, and biggest hangover. The Big Apple was at once rotten to the core and gilded in gold leaf. Ban Johnson wanted to be a part of it. But he found Manhattan far more difficult to colonize than Boston, Chicago, or Philadelphia. Andrew Freedman stood guard at the gates. The tactics of the Giants owner were pure New York inspired, ingenious, underhanded, and incredibly effective. Legally, there was little he could do to keep Johnson from placing a team in Manhattan. Practically, however, there was little he could not do. Freedman, a man of considerable political influence, was a member of Tammany Hall. After its inception as a colonial-era anti-British secret society, Tammany had evolved into the most powerful political organization in New York State and one of the most powerful such organizations in the country. In the 1850s, under William M. "Boss" Tweed, Tammany became a political machine whose power was matched only by its corruption; one observer later likened it to "the municipal equivalent of a floating crap game." Tweed himself helped fleece the public for almost $200 million before finally being brought down. After Tweed's downfall, a wiser and more efficient Tammany machine emerged. The current boss, Richard Croker, had dodged a murder charge and developed a more sophisticated strategy for growing rich at the expense of the public. His genius was the application of so-called honest graft: shaking down all varieties of vice and making use of political power to take advantage of inside information and secure business connections unavailable to any but those who were in the know. The concept made Croker and dozens of his cronies fabulously wealthy. The line between the criminal and the civic was so blurred as to be nearly invisible. Tammany ran New York City regardless of who actually held political office. The machine's power came from the streets. Tammany helped out the little guy, distributing jobs, coal, cash, and other favors to New York's underclass and teeming pool of immigrants. In return, it extracted votes and kickbacks. Public policy was forged in the smoke-filled backrooms of Tammany Hall, where the public good created private fortunes for its members. But the good was always a secondary consideration, for Tammany also controlled the city's teeming vice trade primarily prostitution and gambling and the lucrative liquor business and licensing of taverns and hotels. Tammany followed the money and tabbed baseball as another source of income. And there was indeed money to be made off the game, not only through ticket sales and concessions but also from gambling, ballpark leases, and other ancillary activities. The New York Mutuals, an "amateur" club that operated from 1871 to 1875 and was the forerunner of New York's original entry in the National League, had itself been a product of Tammany Hall all its players were on the city payroll. Freedman had been a member of Tammany since leaving City College, where he studied law before going into real estate. He made the acquaintance of Croker in the early 1880s, and the two became fast friends. True to Tammany form, the relationship soon made Freedman rich. Armed with the knowledge that a certain parcel had been selected for development, he became adept at picking it up on the cheap, reselling it for top dollar, then winning the construction contract for one of the companies that wisely paid him to serve on its board. Although he never held elective office, Freedman was soon one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in New York City. He served on both Tammany's powerful policy board and its finance committee and in 1897 parlayed that experience into the lucrative position of treasurer of the national Democratic Party. He was also a member of the board of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, the construction firm that was building the New York subway system. He was thereby able to influence the placement of subway lines and stations, a power he used to his advantage time and time again to enhance the value of both his own properties and those of his friends. In 1894 Freedman bought a small stake in the National League Giants. A year later he'd parlayed his small block into a majority interest and bullied other investors out of the picture. He then ran the club and, by association, all National League interests in New York as if they were just another offshoot of Tammany. Freedman was a strong supporter of baseball's own version of honest graft, the syndicate system, which allowed NL owners to retain a financial stake in several different clubs at the same time. It was bad for the game because it allowed one club to serve the interests of another and undercut the public's confidence in the league. But it was good for business, helping the league maintain a monopoly and keep player salaries down. The Giants lost more games than they won, but Freedman didn't really give a damn whether they fielded a winning team. Profit was all that mattered. He fought and bickered and bullied other owners constantly, encouraged rowdy play, browbeat umpires, changed managers as often as he did shirts, berated players, and interfered with his team at every level. He was easily the most disliked owner in the National League, a perception not helped by the fact that he was Jewish and the object of anti-Semitism outside of New York. The Sporting News described him as a man of "arbitrary disposition, a violent temper, and an ungovernable tongue." Freedman knew how best to stop Johnson. As a real estate man, he realized that the first requirement of any new team in New York would be a place to play. The Giants had no interest in sharing their park, the Polo Grounds on 155th Street, with anyone. Neither was adjacent Manhattan Field available. The National League leased the property for $15,000 a year just to prevent any other team from using it. In theory, that still left some 22 square miles of Manhattan real estate available for a new park. At least, that's what Johnson thought. But he soon learned that in New York appearances were not always what they seemed. A different set of rules applied. What had worked in St. Louis or Boston held no meaning here. From the moment Johnson first announced that the American League would go major in 1901, Freedman had set up his defense of Manhattan. From the Battery northward to 155th Street, he and his cronies surveyed every property in Manhattan of sufficient size to hold a ballpark. They then leased the parcel outright, took an option on it, or used their political influence either to turn the site into a city park or to split it in half with a public thoroughfare. Thus, for two years Freedman successfully thwarted Johnson, rendering the island of Manhattan absolutely uninhabitable by another baseball team. "Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink" indeed. Johnson had run out of patience. The attempted kidnapping of the Baltimore franchise was the final insult. Near the end of the 1902 season he decided to make New York his battleground for a final assault on the National League. He first coerced the other AL clubs temporarily to foot the bill for a new New York franchise created from the ashes of the Orioles. Then, at the season's end, he turned the tables on the NL, stepping up his raids of NL stars, targeting the champion Pittsburgh Pirates, a team he'd left alone in 1901 and 1902 in the hope that he might entice the entire franchise to switch leagues. When it became clear that it would not, he attacked. Johnson traveled to Pittsburgh, put cash on the table, and left town with the signatures of nearly every man on the team on an American League contract, save for that of star shortstop Honus Wagner, who remained loyal to the Pirates. He then assigned the best of those players pitchers Jack Chesbro and Jess Tannehill, infielder Wid Conroy, and outfielder Lefty Davis to the team he planned to transfer to New York. Johnson expanded his raids to the rest of the NL. Every day the newspapers carried word of yet another defection. The strategy surprised the senior circuit. After the takeover of Baltimore, the NL had thought it had Johnson by the short hairs. But Johnson knew that most NL teams were already in deep financial trouble. In the previous decade they'd had to fight similar challenges from the American Association and the Players" League. But their victories had extracted a heavy price. Most franchises were losing money and had become weary of the similar challenge posed by the American League. Another round of escalating salaries and increasing competition from the AL promised another season of red ink. Johnson brought the National League to its knees. Reluctantly, NL teams sued for peace. The Giants were the final holdout in the peace plan. In December 1902, the two leagues agreed to coexist. After some shuffling back and forth of the players whom each had recently raided from the other, they came to a formal agreement. They would respect each other's rights to players and operate under the same rules, for both wanted to hold down costs and start making some real money. The success of the American League was made almost certain. Yet Johnson, emboldened by victory and drunk with power, wanted more. At his insistence, the price of peace between the two leagues included the ultimate prize his right to place an American League team in New York. Placing a team in the outer boroughs was not an option, for they lacked both the cachet and the potential financial bonanza of a team in Manhattan. It was Manhattan or nothing. The National League grudgingly agreed, and Johnson giddily signed still more high-priced talent for his new club, including former Baltimore star Wee Willie Keeler. For the good of the league, he convinced Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey to give up star pitcher and manager Clark Griffith to lead the new franchise. For the time being, the press simply called the team the generic "New York Americans," to differentiate it from the National League Giants. From the start, this new team was preordained to be the most dominant club in the game. New York was different. The city and the situation demanded it. As Johnson said, "It took a great deal of money to land this team, which I have every reason to believe will rank high among the leaders in the American League race." In Boston he had already employed a similar strategy, creating a powerhouse American League franchise that had quickly crushed the long-established National League team and turned the city into an American League stronghold. Yet Johnson was still an immigrant in New York and naive in the ways of the big city. He thought that the recent accord with the NL had solved his problem of finding a home in Manhattan and expected the process to proceed smoothly. He had even paid a tithe, a donation of $5,000 chump change to the Tammany political machine, believing this would grease the skids. After all, Andrew Freedman was apparently out of the picture. A businessman at heart, Freedman had cut his losses in the face of competition, selling the Giants to John Brush for more than $150,000 not a bad return on his investment. In mid-December Johnson made official his plan to move the Orioles into New York and resumed his search for a ballpark site. He quickly identified two neighboring plots of land on 142nd and 143rd Streets at Lenox Avenue. The plot was perfect large enough, accessible to public transportation, including the planned subway, and closer to downtown than the Polo Grounds. The acquisition seemed simple. The owners were agreeable to a lease. But at the last minute the owner of the 143rd Street parcel demanded that his property be bought outright. Things got strange fast. Johnson was directed to the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, which had won the right to both build and operate the New York City subway system, the first line of which was now inching toward completion below the streets of Manhattan. He was led to believe that the IRTC would gladly buy the land and lease it back to the AL with the expectation of turning a handsome profit once the turnstiles started spinning with fans. Transit companies in both Boston and Philadelphia even attested to the profitability of their similar arrangements with Johnson. But Johnson had been set up. Andrew Freedman served on the board of directors of the IRTC, and Johnson might as well have asked the IRTC to buy him the entire island. According to the New York World, when the directors met, "the proposition was unanimously rejected on the grounds that the company was not ready to go into real estate investments for the purpose of fostering the baseball business." Water, water, everywhere. Freedman, of course, pled ignorance of any wrongdoing, commenting innocently, "Somebody has been stringing these Western men [along,] and it is time it was stopped. It is simply brutal." One could almost see him twirling his mustache as he peeked around the corner and leered at his enemy. His intention was obvious. He would still block Johnson any way and any how unless he and his cronies from Tammany were cut in. If they could own the club, well then, "Welcome to New York City." If not, Johnson would find Manhattan inhospitable. The AL "czar" had already unwisely rejected a bid for the team from state senator Big Tim Sullivan, a saloon king, Tammany's number-two man, and a "master of the shakedown." He had also rejected Frank Farrell, known as the "Pool Room King of New York." Johnson didn't like being told whom he was going to sell the club to that was a prerogative he retained for himself and had enforced elsewhere. But Tammany didn't like being told no. Turning down Tammany cost Johnson the Lenox Avenue site. Johnson was appalled. He had won the war and the right to play in New York it said so in section five of the peace agreement. Being held up by Freedman and Tammany hadn't been part of the deal. But that was the price of doing business in New York. In early February Johnson was forced to admit that "Freedman and Brush have been and are working tooth and nail against us in New York. . . . If it were not for the necessity of dealing with them we would have announced our plans [for a ballpark] weeks ago." Johnson kept trying. Over the next six weeks barely a day passed without another rumored site for a ballpark appearing in the papers. These included less attractive sites in the Bronx and Queens, locations that the NL announced it would block in the courts because the agreement between the two leagues allowed for a team in Manhattan and nowhere else. Meanwhile, Johnson continued to sign players for the team, and a tentative league schedule was produced with the club scheduled to play its first home games in early May somewhere. Johnson's search for a place to play turned into an elaborate game of cat and mouse. He would find a location, then secretly try to secure a purchase or lease. But there were few secrets from Tammany. Each time Johnson found a site, interests referred to by The Sporting News as "Brush's detectives" stayed a step ahead and were able to block the deal. The press even began calling Manhattan "Freedman's Island." An ever more confident John Brush announced that he had bet a suit of clothes with every other NL magnate that Johnson would be unable to find a place to play. "When Johnson shows me he has obtained land in the borough of Manhattan for his grounds, then and not until then will I believe the American League will play ball on this island," he said confidently. By early March, as players for the new team prepared to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, for the beginning of spring training, time was beginning to run out. The new franchise was like some foreign visitor refused entry and left on Ellis Island. Even the players were running out of patience. Pitcher Jess Tannehill complained that if there wasn't going to be a team in New York, "then the American League should turn us adrift to make a deal with another team." Johnson grew ever more desperate. Meanwhile, Freedman waited with open arms, ready to bail out the fair damsel at the right price. But for once Freedman had overplayed his hand. Tammany wasn't operating at quite its usual strength. In the last election a reform movement had temporarily taken possession of City Hall. Croker had been ousted, and Tammany was weakened by internal battles for power. Even Freedman had lost his place at the table as chairman of the powerful Tammany finance committee, which had been abolished the previous spring. When he had concluded that there was no site above 155th Street suitable for a ballpark, he had made a critical error, one that others in Tammany were now quick to take advantage of. Johnson was the beneficiary of Freedman's rare miscalculation, albeit most reluctantly. In January sportswriter Joe Vila arranged a personal meeting between Johnson and a competing faction of Tammany eager to do business and to stick it to Freedman in the process. They told Johnson they had a site for a ballpark. As February turned into March and the beginning of the season approached, Johnson had no choice but to deal with Tammany. A shadowy syndicate of buyers emerged, fronted by Joseph Gordon. He operated a coal business and, until the recent election, had been New York's deputy superintendent of buildings. He'd also once owned a small piece of the Giants before losing control to Freedman. The syndicate dangled a ballpark site before Johnson's eyes. They proposed to build a ballpark in Washington Heights, far uptown, on a plot of land between 165th and 168th Streets, bounded by Fort Washington Avenue on the west and 11th Avenue and Broadway on the east. The site was owned by the New York Institute for the Blind, but the syndicate had a lease agreement in hand. They could not have chosen a more unlikely location, and that was precisely why the property was available and why they chose it. The locale was described as the highest point on Manhattan (although in fact it was not), leading The Sporting News to wax rhapsodically that it was "the most picturesque and romantic spot the white man has ever selected for a battlefield between the baseball warriors." To the east, one could see the Bronx, Long Island Sound, and Queens. To the south lay Manhattan and New York Harbor, while the northern view took in farms and meadows. The site was backed to the west by the Hudson River and the Palisades. Yet the journey from downtown still took nearly an hour by surface-bound public transportation. Although a subway station was scheduled to be built on 168th Street, the relatively remote location of the site explained why Freedman and his cronies had felt comfortable stopping their land search at 155th Street. The location was also considered virtually unbuildable. Sporting Life stated that there was not "a level spot ten feet square on the whole property." The site measured nearly 800 feet by 600 feet, and the barren, rocky outcrop was dotted with massive boulders and dead trees and cleaved by deep gullies. A fetid pond ran the length of the eastern side. But what seemed unbuildable to Freedman was precisely what made the site attractive to Gordon's men. The site offered them a consummate opportunity to indulge in honest graft in its purest form. Site preparation alone would require the rearrangement of hundreds of tons of rock and soil before a single nail could be driven to erect the stands. And Gordon had already used his political connections to acquire all the necessary permits. The project would have to be rushed to completion in less than two months, and Tammany looked forward to tapping into the huge construction contract. To make it happen, all Johnson had to do was say yes and hand the franchise over to Tammany. Gordon's Tammany backers treated the new team like any other immigrant. In exchange for help in finding lodging and gainful employment, Tammany would sponsor the new arrival. All Tammany wanted in return was the equivalent of the immigrant's vote undying loyalty and a percentage of the paycheck. Johnson didn't like being held up in essence, the offer was an act of extortion but he disliked losing even less, particularly to Freedman. He had come too far to turn back now. If he failed to place a team in New York, he would lose face with the AL's financial backers. Quite literally, Johnson was between a rock and a hard place. Gordon's syndicate offered him his only out. On March 11, he reluctantly awarded the syndicate the franchise and became a partner with Tammany. The price paid by the syndicate for the franchise $18,000 was a joke and far less than the true value of the club. But the "Invaders" had a beachhead in Manhattan. The immigrant had arrived. It was obvious to everyone who was paying any attention what had taken place. As the New York Tribune commented, "Politicians were standing in the way. . . . [They] not only demand that their pockets be lined, but that they be given a portion of the stock of the club." Johnson still claimed victory. He released a statement that read: We could not fail in this undertaking, for we always had an anchor to windward, and there was never a moment when we were not confident of success. . . . In spite of the obstacles thrown in our way, of which we do not care to go into particulars, we have no hard feelings against anybody. . . . [I]t has been a long tedious affair from start to finish, but the American League has made good. But the price Johnson and his league had been forced to pay was as steep as the island site on which the new ballpark would be built. On March 13, the press toured the site and learned that Thomas McAvoy, the ex- police commissioner and Tammany leader of the 23rd District, which included Washington Heights, had been awarded the construction contract to build the new grounds. The cost of the sweetheart deal was mind-boggling at the time $200,000 to clear and level the land, and another $75,000 to build the ballpark. Although Johnson claimed that no league funds would be used for the construction, it appears likely that the league was at least partially responsible for the costs, as it had been in Philadelphia and Boston. Before a single pitch was thrown, the franchise was already a license for Tammany to print money. Five days later the front page of the New York World carried a story detailing a civil suit filed by Rogers L. Barstow Jr. against one Frank J. Farrell, the aforementioned "Pool Room King." In the suit, Barstow claimed that he had been swindled out of $11,000 in one of Farrell's gambling dens. With some measure of delight, the paper recounted Farrell's testimony. He professed never to have seen a roulette wheel and to be ignorant of the details of gambling in all its myriad forms. Right. That Farrell's lies were so blatant made them all the more entertaining. On the same page a much smaller story nonchalantly reported that former NYC Police Chief William S. Devery had successfully petitioned the Tax Commission to reduce his personal tax assessment of $30,000 and noted that he generally made such payments in cash with $1,000 bills. Not bad for a cop. Such stories were neither shocking nor even surprising. New York was corrupt to the core, and everyone knew it. Both Farrell and Devery were familiar names to anyone who knew anything about Tammany Hall. And as the public would soon learn, Farrell and Devery were actually the owners of the new American League baseball team. A more sordid pair can hardly be imagined. Each had made a fortune fleecing the public with absolute impunity. Buying a ballclub carried the promise of more of the same. On March 18, with the first explosions rocking Washington Heights as construction crews used dynamite to turn 12,000 cubic yards of rock and stone into rubble, the team was officially incorporated. Farrell's status as a principal shareholder in the club was revealed to the public for the first time, although Johnson had known of his role for weeks. The announcement passed with little comment, although the World noted that Farrell's prominence in Tammany was thought to be enough to "overcome any influence the New York National League club may have in Tammany circles." In other words, it was business as usual in old New York. Farrell had started out in the liquor business, pouring drinks while making friends and connections in Tammany Hall from behind the bar. He soon branched out, opening a poolroom and eventually becoming a partner in a gambling syndicate controlled by Tim Sullivan, Devery, and Richard Canfield. Together they operated hundreds of gambling enterprises ranging from poolrooms and crap games to the infamous "House with the Bronze Door." The opulent, elegantly decorated townhouse on West 33rd Street had been remodeled by the famous architect Stanford White and catered to the crme de la crme of New York gamblers. In 1900 the New York Times estimated that the syndicate's annual take was in excess of $3 million. That made Farrell both very rich and very powerful, even though gambling, even then, was (technically anyway) very illegal. That's where William "Big Bill" Devery got his cut. Like Farrell, Devery also started out behind the bar. But in 1878 he paid Tammany $200 and changed professions he became a member of the police force. Devery wasn't drawn to law enforcement by any feelings of civic responsibility. Rather, being a police officer offered a young man in a hurry an inexhaustible opportunity to collect graft. Devery wasn't shy. He was soon soliciting money from every gambling den and whorehouse on his beat. As soon as he could afford to, Devery bought promotions, first to sergeant, for $1,400, and then to captain for $14,000. By 1887 he was working the Tenderloin, a red-light district that ran between Fifth and Seventh Avenues from 24th Street to 42nd Street. The many nightclubs, saloons, brothels, clip joints, and dance halls in the area offered unmatched opportunities for financial advancement. No one was better equipped to take advantage. Devery knew full well what he was getting into, announcing to his men upon his appointment: "They tell me there's been a lot of graftin" going on. . . . Now that's going to stop. If there's to be any graftin" to be done, I'll do it. Leave it to me!" He followed his motto "Hear, see, and say nothin", eat, drink, and pay nothin"" to the letter. Devery soon became friendly with Farrell, for whose poolroom he provided protection, and a lifelong, mutually beneficial friendship was formed. Over time Devery provided protection for the syndicate throughout the city. Even among the thieves of Tammany, Big Bill Devery's audacity stood out. But he always squirmed free bribing juries bothered him not in the least. Devery's career in law enforcement flourished. In 1898 he made inspector and within six months found himself promoted once again, this time to the position of chief of police. His predecessor had made the mistake of interfering with one of Farrell's poolrooms. There'd be no similar trouble with Devery at the helm. Of his reign, muckraker Lincoln Steffens pronounced, "He was no more fit to be chief of police than the fish man was to be director of the Aquarium, but as a character, as a work of art, he was a masterpiece." By 1901, however, Devery's brazenness had finally cost him. Although he enjoyed the full support of Mayor Robert Van Wyck who called him "the best chief of police New York ever had" in mid-February the legislature, desperate to be rid of his embarrassing presence, abolished his position. He "retired" with real estate holdings of nearly $1 million, made plans to run for mayor, and embarked on a long, eventually successful effort to secure a city pension. When Tammany lost in the 1901 election, Farrell had also "retired," cashing in and moving his money into more socially acceptable investments, like running a baseball team. Meanwhile, far away from the mean streets of Manhattan, the New York Americans gathered in Atlanta for spring training. Manager Clark Griffith held the club's first practice at Piedmont Park on the afternoon of March 18. "I will give my men four hours of work every day," he announced. "While I am not strong on prophecy, you can say for me that we expect to be in the chase from the jump and can be counted on to finish in the first division." He was being kind because, with the backing of Ban Johnson, the new ballclub was expected not just to contend but to win right away. Indeed, on paper, the club was a powerhouse. Nearly half the roster had played a key role on a team that had won a pennant in the previous two seasons. It all started at the top, with "the Old Fox," player-manager Clark Griffith, who had already won 205 games in the major leagues, most of them with National League Chicago. He'd spent the last two seasons as player- manager of the American League White Sox, leading them to the first AL pennant in 1901. From Pittsburgh came infielder Wid Conroy, star pitcher Jess Tannehill, and spitball artist Jack Chesbro. Both pitchers had won 20 games while helping the Pirates capture the 1902 NL pennant by an astonishing 271/2 games. They were joined by two of their former teammates, outfielder Lefty Davis and catcher Jack O'Connor. Second baseman Jimmy Williams, pitcher Harry Howell, and outfielder Herm McFarland remained from the 1902 Baltimore team. Around this nucleus Griffith added former National League outfielder John Ganzel, aging former Boston star shortstop Herman Long, and outfielder Dave Fultz, who'd hit .302 and led the league in runs for the 1902 AL champion, the Philadelphia A's. But the acknowledged star of the team was diminutive outfielder Wee Willie Keeler. In nine full seasons, first with Baltimore and then with Brooklyn, he had never hit below .333, with a high of .424 in 1897. Keeler, who stood barely five feet four inches tall, was the perfect player for the Dead Ball Era, which rewarded hitters for their ability to make contact and do the little things that move runners around the base paths. Bunts, sacrifices, and hit-and-run plays epitomized the style of play of so- called scientific or inside baseball. Keeler summed up his batting approach when he once told a reporter the secret of his success: "Keep the eye clear, and hit "em where they ain't." A supreme place hitter, Keeler rarely struck out, was an adept bunter and base stealer, a fleet outfielder, and recognized as one of the most savvy players in the game. In New York he was expected to be the new team's first big star, the drawing card it needed to win a box- office battle with the Giants. Griffith's job was to roll the ball out onto the field and get the disparate parts of his new club to work together. That didn't seem to be much of a challenge. The club shut out Southern League Atlanta in its first three exhibition contests as Howell, Griffith, and Tannehill all pitched spotless ball and Ganzel led the club on offense. But while the players marched unimpeded through Georgia, Farrell, Devery, and Ban Johnson still found the going rough in Manhattan. Even as 500 men worked from dawn to dusk to turn Washington Heights into a ballpark, the immigrant invaders found their neighbors less than welcoming. Freedman and his corner of Tammany felt betrayed by Farrell and made several last-ditch efforts to try to stop him and his associates. He rallied neighbors to sign a petition asking for a new street and sparked a strike among the workers clearing the ballpark site, but these efforts came too late. American League baseball finally had its beachhead in New York. As work on the site continued, President Gordon held a contest to name the new park, offering a season pass for the winning entry. On April 5, he unveiled the plans for the park itself. It would be nothing more than a spare, wooden grandstand, 20 rows deep, built of spruce and pine on a stone foundation, seating 4,186 at a dollar a head. Bleachers down each line would accommodate another 8,000 fans at 50 cents apiece, and 2,500 25-cent seats would be available in the outfield. The outfield dimensions would be an imposing 365 feet in left field, 542 in center, and 400 feet in right. One observer commented that, although it would take "a mighty batsman to knock one over the fence, there is plenty of room inside the field for home runs." (Indeed, at the time most home runs were still of the inside-the-park variety.) The entrance would be on the corner of 165th and Broadway. While hundreds of workers rushed to complete the park, which included filling a gigantic hole in what was supposed to be right field, the club broke camp in early April. They barnstormed through the South before heading to Washington to open the regular season on April 22. On the cold, gray afternoon, the two clubs paraded into the Washington ballpark, according to tradition. They were greeted by a record crowd of 11,500 who were anxious to see the new team for the first time. Washington manager Tom Loftus opted to have his club bat first to take advantage of the brand-new baseball, which wouldn't be replaced until absolutely necessary. New York took the field as Opening Day pitcher Jack Chesbro warmed up. The contemporary fan wouldn't recognize the team as the Yankees, for they had adopted neither that familiar nickname nor their distinctive pinstriped attire. They wore black uniforms with a large, white "NY" in block letters across the chest, black hats with white piping, white socks, and white belts. And they were called, well, "New York." As yet, the club had no other name. This proved quite a quandary for the New York press, which somehow had to distinguish the American League club from the New York Giants. For a time they tried to get by with simply calling the team "the New Yorks," but Giants fans were accustomed to referring to their club at times by that name. Sportswriters created their own nicknames and soon started referring to the club as either the "Hilltoppers," in reference to the site of their ballpark, or the Highlanders, a name that also played on the Scottish heritage of team president Joseph Gordon. The "Americans," "Greater New Yorks," "Invaders," "Kilties," and a half-dozen other names were also occasionally used. But none really took, and most proved troublesome for the headline writers and typesetters. But within only a few months, the press began occasionally referring to the team as "the Yankees," probably in reference to the fact that they played north of the Giants. This name delighted typesetters, who shortened it to the even more manageable "Yanks." By 1904 "Yankees" was widely used, particularly by the New York Evening Journal, and had become the name of choice among fans. Chesbro struggled with his control, walking the first three Washington hitters before escaping the inning by fielding a sharp ground ball himself and starting a home-to-first double play. In the bottom of the inning Lefty Davis stepped to the plate and became the first Yankee batsman in history. He grounded one of pitcher Al Orth's serves to second for an out, but then Willie Keeler worked his magic and walked. With Keeler taking off on a hit-and-run play, Dave Fultz singled to left. Keeler slid around the tag at third with a beautiful fadeaway. Jimmy Williams followed with a ground ball to second, and Keeler dashed home to score the club's first run. It was inside baseball at its best. And it was also the highlight of the day for the New Yorkers. After Washington scored a single run to tie the game in the fourth, an error by 37- year-old Herman Long at short helped Washington score two runs. The Senators held on to win 31. The Yankees won for the first time the following day as Harry Howell went the distance in an easy 72 win, but the big news of the day was the public revelation that Big Bill Devery, along with Farrell, was the team's major backer. He tried to deny it, rhetorically telling the New York Herald Tribune, "Me, a backer? I only wished I did own stock in a baseball club. I am a poor man and don't own stock in anything." No one was fooled, and the Herald Tribune went on to detail Devery's recent real estate deals that had netted him more than half a million dollars. Politically savvy Washington fans taunted the team by calling them "New York's Finest." By the time the club arrived in New York for the home opener on April 30, it sported a disappointing 34 record. As Sam Crane wrote that morning, "It was a perfect day for the sport. The sun was strong and a gentle breeze blew across the stand just strong enough to make it comfortable." The good weather and curiosity about the new team combined to bring out a capacity crowd of around 16,243 fans to "American League Park," the winning entry of the young boy who won President Gordon's contest. This was no palace of baseball. Only the bare wooden grandstand, filled with 5,000 folding chairs, and the bleachers were nearly finished. The roof existed only on blueprints. But bunting hung from the front of the stands, and every fan was given a miniature American flag, lending an appropriately festive air to the proceedings. Fans who purchased 25-cent seats were herded behind ropes down the line and in the outfield and forced to stand. The condition of the field was appalling. A slack rope sufficed for an outfield fence. Only the infield had been sodded, and fans complained about the glare from the baked earth of the outfield and foul territory, most of which was still littered with stones and showed signs of recent settling. But the park's most distinctive, albeit unintentional, feature was in right field. The pond that once covered the area had proven a challenge to fill. Tons of rock and dirt had only sunk in the mud. Crane described it as covering "about a sixteenth of the field." On this day, and on many others in the inaugural season, the gulch was roped off. Any ball hit into the void was a ground-rule double. Sportswriters soon referred to it as "Keeler's Hollow," for the number of balls that disappeared behind the New York right fielder. Owing to the influence of Freedman and his cronies, the sale of alcohol was banned, but as Crane noted, fans looked at the lemonade vendors "with disgust." That response didn't stop the politicians, however, from turning out in force. The most conspicuous were Devery and Farrell, in the company of Ban Johnson. The acerbic Crane commented wryly, "There were enough diamonds in the shirt fronts of the politicians to start a fair sized jewelry store. There are three kinds of diamonds, it is said, which most politicians know much about the diamond that glitters, the ace of diamonds, and the baseball diamond." This team was New York to the core. A band escorted the uniformed members of both clubs from a nearby hotel, for a clubhouse had yet to be built. Ban Johnson threw out the first pitch, the home team chose to bat first, and just after 3:30 p.m. the immigrants staked their claim to the city when Lefty Davis stepped in to face Washington pitcher Jack Townsend. He grounded out to short, but Keeler singled to left, then charged into second when outfielder Ed Delahanty bobbled the ball, turning the crowd apoplectic. He scored moments later on Jimmy Williams's double to put the Yankees in the lead. On the mound for New York, Chesbro was all he had been advertised to be as he kept the Senators off balance. The Yankees emerged with a nifty 62 win to even their record at 44. At the end of the short six-game home stand, the team, in the parlance of the day, looked to be a "world beater" as they took two of three from both the dismal Senators and the defending champion Athletics. Attendance was good, the team was in the race, and all looked right on the island of Manhattan. But the protracted struggle to find a home was still having an effect. To accommodate the completion of the ballpark, the schedule makers sent the Yanks on the longest road trip in club history, a grueling 24-day sojourn that took them to every city in the league save Washington and even included a game against Cleveland played in Columbus, Ohio. The Yankees fell apart on the road and returned to New York a beaten team, an also-ran with a record of 1518, buried in seventh place. The rejuvenated Giants, who were battling the Cubs for the National League lead, remained the unchallenged kings of New York. Herman Long, 37 going on 57, was injured, and ground balls rolled through the left side unimpeded. Dave Fultz was also hurt. Clark Griffith couldn't pitch as often as he once had, and Tannehill was maddeningly inconsistent. The ballpark was looking somewhat better, for during the road trip the grandstand roof and left-field scoreboard and outfield fence had gone up and been painted green. Keeler's Hollow was more or less covered by planks and dirt, and grass finally began to sprout in the outfield. But field conditions remained poor, the park hard to get to, and the ballclub unfinished. When Boston dumped the immigrants three straight by a combined score of 265, the season was all but over. If they could have, fans would have started deportation hearings. After a loss to Cleveland on June 4, manager Griffith left the club, reportedly "out to look for players." There was some desperation to his quest. But Ban Johnson wasn't about to allow the new club to fail. It was his league, and he ran it as he saw fit. New York had to succeedhe had invested too much to allow the team to fail. During the previous off-season, Detroit shortstop Norman "Kid" Elberfeld had signed two contracts: one with American League Detroit, then another with the National League Giants. A fiery competitor known as "the Tabasco Kid," Elberfeld was a fine player, another student of inside baseball, and a particularly good glove man. The Giants had wanted him badlyhe was John McGraw's kind of playerbut as part of the peace agreement between the two leagues, they had reluctantly relinquished their claim. Elberfeld then got off to a fine start with the Tigers, hitting .341 for the first two months of the season. But Elberfeld wasn't happy returning to Detroit and spent much of the season feuding with Tiger manager Ed Barrow and owner Sam Angus. Like the Yankees, the Tigers weren't playing very well, or drawing many fans either. But unlike the Yankees, they didn't have the Giants playing down the street. Johnson didn't give a damn about the Tigers. If they failed in Detroit, other cities like Buffalo were waiting in the wings. So Johnson rang up Sam Angus and worked out a deal. The Yankees weren't just another team, and soon the whole league knew it. Johnson arranged for New York to get something for nothing, sending Long, two others, and some cash to the Tigers for Elberfeld and outfielder John Deering. Elberfeld would be a star in New York for much of the next decade. Giants owner John Brush was livid. To see the Kid in a Yankee uniform now was more than he could bear, and he sought a court injunction to ban Elberfeld from playing with the Yankees. For several weeks the dispute threatened to disrupt the peace between the two leagues, but Ban Johnson got his way. Elberfeld stayed with the Yankees. The Kid made the Yankees one of the best teams in the league as they won 16 of their next 24. But Boston surged into first place at the end of June and kept going, while New York ran out of steam and struggled to stay above .500. A hot finish, which saw them go 1910 in September, was enough to secure the club fourth place with a 7262 record, but that was 17 long games behind pennant-winning Boston. Meanwhile, the Giants won the battle of Manhattan in a cakewalk. Although they finished second to Pittsburgh in the National League, New York fans found the NL team much more to their liking. The Yankees drew barely 200,000 spectators, seventh best in the league, while the Giants paced the NL with nearly three times that amount. Of all the vaunted Yankee stars, only Keeler, who hit .318, Elberfeld, who hit .287, and Chesbro, who went 2115, performed to their expected standard. Victories had proven as hard to come by as a site for the new ballpark. Somewhere, Andrew Freedman was smiling.Copyright 2002 by Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. Excerpted from Yankees Century: 100 Years of New York Yankees Baseball by Glenn Stout, Richard A. Johnson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Ring LardnerCharles DevensDavid HalberstamIra BerkowRichard A. JohnsonHoward BryantMolly O'Neill
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introductionp. xix
1902-1903 - Invasion of the Immigrantp. 3
1904 - The Pitchp. 23
1905-1914 - A Fine Messp. 39
1915-1919 - Two Colonels and One Bossp. 65
1920-1925 - Murderers' Rowp. 85
1926-1928 - The Greatest Team: Lardner Has Bright Idea to Help Pittsburgh Teamp. 115
1929-1934 - The Pride of the Yankees: Charles Devens, Yankeep. 137
1935-1941 - The Clipperp. 161
1942-1946 - A War on All Frontsp. 187
1947-1950 - The Boston Stranglers: George Weiss: Architect of an Erap. 205
1951-1956 - The Battle of the Boroughs: On Casey Stengelp. 235
1957-1961 - 57 ... 58 ... 59 ... 60 ... 61p. 263
1962-1964 - A Series of Swan Songsp. 287
1965-1974 - After the Fallp. 305
1975-1978 - Start Spreading the News: Rivalsp. 329
1979-1995 - Darkness at the Edge of Town: Dave Winfield's Empty Afternoonp. 359
1996-1997 - Top of the Heap: It's Only a Game. It's More Than a Gamep. 389
1998-1999 - Team of the Centuryp. 411
2000-2002 - New York Storiesp. 433
Appendix A Yankees Century Teamsp. 456
Appendix B The Yankee Recordp. 460
Indexp. 464