A Sad Day in Baseball History

Today is June 2nd. It is the anniversary of one of baseball’s saddest days. On this day in 1941, Yankee great Lou Gehrig passed away from ALS in his home in Riverdale, New York.

Nicknamed ‘the Iron Horse’, Gehrig had a storied career with the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. His career included 6 World Series, 2 League MVP awards (1927 and 1936), a career .340 Batting Average, and of course the 2,130 consecutive game appearances that stood for 56 years until broken my Cal Ripken Jr in 1995.

The Yankee Stadium Connection

Lou Gehrig had a special connection with the original Yankee Stadium. Opening day for the stadium on April 18, 1923 was also Lou Gehrig’s first day in the major leagues. He was a rookie and did not make an appearance in 1923 until June 15th and only received 26 ABs on the season. The stadium would serve him well.

A few Yankee Stadium facts

Throughout the world only a few building or structures are known simply by saying their name. Yankee Stadium was one of these historic archives to many baseball fans across the world. The 2008 baseball season marked the end to one of the most famous stadiums in the world. Since the time of its opening more than nine decades ago, the stadium was the home to one of the greatest teams in sports, the New York Yankees, with legendary players such as Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle and today’s stars, Alex Rodriquez and Derek Jeter.

The Yankees moved to New York from Balitmore in 1903 and were then known as the New York Highlanders. They played at the very uncomfortable Hilltop Park until 1912, when their lease expired. They accepted an invitation to play at the New York Giants home, Polo Grounds and changed their name to the Yankees. They signed a ten year lease at the Polo Grounds in 1913 and began to outdraw the Giants at the end of the decade as a result of the acquisition of Babe Ruth. By 1920, the Yankees became the first team to attract more than one million fans.

Yankee Stadium foreground – Polo Grounds background

The Giants evicted the Yankees after the 1922 season, hoping that the Yankees would have to move to a borough far away so the Giants would attract more fans. Ironically, Yankee Stadium was built only a short distance from the Polo Grounds just across the Harlem River.

The Yankees planned their stadium as a monster. However, because the stadium seemed too foreboding, the original plans were scaled back. Instead, the ballpark became the first to have three tiers of seating, consisting of 58,000 seats. It was also the first ballpark to be called a stadium due to its enormous size. It also included a flagpole and an area became known as “Monument Park” in fair territory in dead center field. The original monument to former manager Miller Huggins was erected first. Monuments of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and others were erected in years following 1932.

Center field’s Monument Park. Lou Gehrig is on the left.

The National Ballpark Museum

The National Ballpark Museum features several Yankee Stadium artifacts. Stop by today and see the entire collection! We are only a half block from Coors Field!

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