In their 112-year history, the New York Yankees have had many of the best players in the game, many of which are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. But always front and center was the famed Yankee Stadium, “The house that Ruth Built.”
Today we look back in my newest Yankee top 10 articles to pick the most iconic moments at Yankee Stadium. Of course, these are arbitrary, and many will disagree with my choices. That’s okay, as there are far more stunning moments at the Stadium in the Bronx.
Opening of the new old Yankee Stadium 1923
The house that Ruth built finally became a reality when in 1923, the New York Yankees opened their own Stadium where history would be made for the next 85 years. The Yankees started as the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore in 1901. In 1903 they would move the team to New York City. The team first played at Hilltop Stadium downtown. Then they played at the Polo Grounds until 1922, when they built the new Stadium in the Bronx. During that time, Babe Ruth had become the best player in the game, filling the stands and allowing the Yankees to build their first Stadium.
Lou Gehrig makes his famous speech in 1939
Lou Gehrig was one of the finest ballplayers to ever play for any team. Although he would eventually win every accolade the game can give, luck was not on his side. In 1939 after realizing he could no longer play due to the ALS disease that was ravaging his body, he gave the most iconic speech ever spoken at any baseball field. It is still referred to be the most famous baseball speech ever. It was on July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, when the longtime Yankee first baseman uttered the famous words at a home plate ceremony at Yankee Stadium: “For the past two weeks, you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Gehrig died of the disease that now bears his name, “Lou Gehrig Disease,” on June 2, 1940.
Don Larsen has the first-ever no-hitter in World Series 1956
In a record that still stands average pitcher, Don Larsen threw the first no-hitter in history to be accomplished in a World Series game. On Monday, October 8, 1956, in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, pitcher Don Larsen of the New York Yankees threw a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League at Yankee Stadium. It was the first postseason no-hitter since Claude Grier did it in the 1926 postseason. Larsen’s perfect game is the only perfect game in the history of the World Series, it was the first perfect game of any kind thrown in 34 years and is one of only 23 perfect games in MLB history.
Roger Maris makes history with number 61 1961
1961 was an exciting year for New York Yankee fans, it was the year of the M&M boys, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, as they fought all season long to see who would end up beating Babe Ruth’s record for 60 home runs. Near the end of the 1961 season, Mantle’s health issues allow Maris to overtake him. On October 1, 1961, Maris hit his 61st home run, hitting just one more than Babe Ruth. The more popular Mickey Mantle ended the season with 54 long balls.
Chris Chambliss causes the best kind of riot (1976)
On a cold New York Yankees autumn night on October 14, 1976, the fifth game of a winner take all ALCS game, the game would be at a standstill in the bottom of the ninth. Kansas City relief pitcher Mark Littell would be taking warm-up tosses, Yankee public address announcer Bob Sheppard was cautioning the crowd of over 58,000 about throwing debris onto the playing field. Meanwhile, Yankee first baseman Chris Chambliss waited in the cold. Finally, at 11:13 PM, Chambliss stepped into the batter’s box, and home-plate umpire Art Frantz yelled play ball. Littell would throw Chris a high fastball that Chambliss would smash over the right-field wall for a walk-off win and one of the most iconic moments in baseball history, as the Yankee fans emptied the stands and filled the fields.
Reggie Jackson becomes Mr. October (1977)
In yet another example of a Yankee moment seemingly scripted by a famous writer, Reggie Jack Jackson managed three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 Fall Classic. It caused the Yankees to win their first World Series title in fifteen years. Those home runs cemented Reggie Jackson in the history books and his place in New York Yankees lore. After the game, he was dubbed “Mr. October.”
Bobby Murcer drives in five in honor of Thurman Munson 1979
1979 was a sad year for the New York Yankees, as they lost their iconic catcher Thurman Munson to the crash of his own plane in Ohio. On the day of his funeral, the Yankees attended his funeral in Ohio under the threat of having to forfeit their game later than night. The Yankees made it back in time for the game at Yankee Stadium. During that game, Bobby Murcer managed to play in the game and be impactful under the duress of having spoken at Munson’s funeral. Manager Billy Martin suggested Bobby sit out given the circumstances, but Murcer insisted on playing in honor of his fallen friend. Bobby single-handedly erased a 4-0 Baltimore lead by hitting a 3-run shot in the 7th and a two-run walk-off single down the left-field line. New York won 5-4.
Famous Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera stands alone 2011
During 2011 Mariano Rivera recorded his 602nd save. Urged by his teammates to soak up the moment, Rivera stood alone on the mound, celebrating his place as the game’s all-time saves leader. Rivera, in his humble ways, tipped his cap to the fans, and both teams looked on. Rivera surpassed Trevor Hoffman by recording his 602nd save, dispatching all three Twins he faced. Rivera even shattered a bat with his trademark cutter, later calling the moment “priceless.” Rivera would retire with 652 saves, plus a record 42 more in the postseason. He became the first player ever to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously in 2019. He said in his acceptance speech, “I would love to be remembered as a player who was always there for others. ” In another iconic moment for “Mo” in his final game, his best friends Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter came onto the field to take the ball from Rivera, he broke down in Pettitte’s arms and was saluted by both teams as he made his final exit.
Yankee Stadium tries to heal America 2001
America and the world were still in shock after the horrible terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The Yankees resumed their season on the road in Chicago on September 18 and did not return home until September 25, an absence of 16 days. This first game after the attacks at Yankee Stadium was dripping with emotion. Before the game, there was a 30-minute ceremony. Many in the announced crowd of 33,777 were late entering the ballpark. There was an increased police presence, and fans were screened as they entered the ballpark. They had even checked Yankees manager Joe Torre’s bags. The ceremony included the then-mayor of New York Rudy Giuliano and other prominent stars, including Bette Midler and Michael Bolton. Branford Marsalis played taps while members of the New York Police and Fire Departments stood along the baselines. Tenor Ronan Tynan offered a stirring rendition of the National Anthem. Later in the game, members of the Fire Department sang a rendition of “God Bless America.” The Yankees lost the game to the Rays, but the Boston Red Sox lost their game to Baltimore, retaining the Yankees 13 1/2 game lead in the AL East.
Derek Jeter goes out in style 2014
More than any other Yankees player, Derek Jeter had enough iconic moments in his career to fill his own top 10 moments. Still, none could duplicate Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium, not even the flip or the crash into the stands. In his final game in pinstripes, Jeter exited a winner at home, showing off his trademark inside-out swing to lace a walk-off single and sending home the deciding run in a 6-5 victory over the Orioles. Jeter raised his fists, securing a Hollywood conclusion after he had already doubled and driven in a go-ahead run earlier in the contest, only for closer David Robertson to permit three runs in the ninth. Announcer Michael Kay called the walk-off win “where fantasy meets reality.” Just one more moment when Derek Jeter rose to the occasion.
A-Rod drives in 10 runs in one game (2005), Derek Jeter has 3,000 hits (2011), Mariano Rivera’s final gaem “exit the Sandman (2013), Yankees christen new Yankee Stadium (2009), three Grand Slams in one game (2011), Guidry strikes out 18 (1978), Babe Ruth traded to the New York Yankees (1919).
Continuing, Allie Reynolds has two no-hitters in the same season (1951), and the Yankees win their first World Series (1923). The one-handed Jim Abbott makes history with a no-hitter (1993), George Steinbrenner was honored during the All-Star game 2008. There is no question that the winningest team in all of the sports has no shortage of iconic moments for the Yankees and Yankee Stadium.