Shortly following Lou Gehrig’s retirement from baseball, due to his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the Yankees declared July 4, 1939 “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day.” On this day, Gehrig delivered his now-historic “Luckiest Man” speech to the fans of Yankee Stadium. During that ceremony, Gehrig’s teammates presented him with a trophy, and on that trophy they had the following poem, written by John Kiernan, engraved.
To LOU GEHRIG
We’ve been to the wars together;
We took our foes as they came;
And always you were the leader,
And ever you played the game.
Idol of cheering millions,
Records are yours by sheaves;
Iron of frame they hailed you
Decked you with laurel leaves.
But higher than that we hold you,
We who have known you best;
Knowing the way you came through
Every human test.
Let this be a silent token
Of lasting Friendship’s gleam,
And all that we’ve left unspoken;
Your Pals of the Yankees Team.
The New York Yankees played their first game at Yankee Stadium on April 18, 1923 in front of more than 72,000 fans. Babe Ruth hit the first home run of the new ballpark, a two-run shot off Red Sox pitcher Howard Ehmke, to help New York beat Boston, 4-1. The new $2.5 million ballpark was the first to feature three decks.
On February 6, 1921, the New York Yankees announced the purchase of a ten-acre plot of land from the estate of William Waldorf Astor. The site, purchased for $675,000 and situated on the west side of the Bronx, would serve as the location of the new Yankee Stadium. Construction of the new ballpark began in May 1922, and the Yankees would play their first game in the new stadium on April 18, 1923.
The Washington Senators stole 13 bases against New York Highlanders catcher Branch Rickey on June 28, 1907 at Yankee Stadium. The Senators would also manage 20 hits against New York pitching, en route to a 16-5 victory.
On September 20, 1980, a bronze plaque was dedicated to Thurman Munson at Yankee Stadium. Munson had passed away the previous year attempting to land his Cessna Citation at Akron-Canton Airport.
My heroes, my dreams, and my future lay in Yankee Stadium. And they can’t take that away from me.
On August 17, 1948, one day after Babe Ruth’s death, Yankee Tommy Henrich launched his fourth grand slam for the season, thus tying one of Ruth’s records. Ruth’s body, which was on display at Yankee Stadium, received visits from approximately 100,000 fans. The Great Bambino was buried at the Cemetery of the Gate of Heaven in Hawthorne, New York two days later.