The Ole Ball Game

How did the NY Yankees get their name?

Photo Bill Stanton:

Photo Bill Stanton:

Photo Bill Stanton: Photo Bill Stanton:

Anonymous asked: How did the NY Yankees get their name? The "yankee" part in particular.

Rick answered: Thank you for your question.

Credit for the following information is given to Wikipedia.

One of the American League's 8 charter franchises, the club was founded in Baltimore in 1901, as the Baltimore Orioles.

At the end of 1900, Ban Johnson, president of the Western League, a minor league, reorganized the league. He added teams in 3 Eastern cities, forming the American League, in an attempt to challenge the National League for supremacy.

Plans to put a team in New York City were blocked by the National League's New York Giants, who had enough political power in New York City to prevent the AL from establishing a team.

Instead a team was put in Baltimore, a city which the NL abandoned when it contracted from 12 to 8 teams in 1900.

Nicknamed the Orioles, the team began playing in 1901, and were managed and owned in part by John McGraw. During the 1902 season, McGraw feuded with Johnson and secretly jumped to the Giants. In the middle of the season, the Giants, aided and abetted by McGraw, gained controlling interest of the Orioles and began raiding their roster for players, until the AL stepped in and took control of the team.

In January 1903, a "peace conference" was held between the two leagues to settle disputes and try to co-exist. At the conference, Johnson requested that an AL team be put in New York City, to play alongside the Giants.

It was put to a vote, and 15 of the 16 Major League owners agreed on it, with only John T. Bush of the Giants opposing.

The Orioles new owners, Frank J. Farrell and William S. Devery, found a ballpark location not blocked by the Giants and Baltimore's team moved to New York.

The team's new ballpark,Hilltop Park was constructed in Northern Manhattan at one of the islands highest points between 165th and 168th streets, just a few blocks away from the much larger Polo Grounds.

The team came to be known as the New York Highlanders for two reasons: 1) it was a reference to the team's elevated location and 2) to the noted British military unit, The Gordon Highlanders, which coincided with the team's president, Joseph Gordon.

As was common with all members of the American League, the team was called the New York Americans.

New York Press Sports Editor Jim Price coined the unofficial nickname Yankees (or "Yanks") for the club as early as 1904, because it was easier to fit in headlines.

The most success the Highlanders achieved was finishing second in 1904, 1906 and 1910; 1904 being the closest they would come to winning the AL pennant. That year they would lose the deciding game on the last day of the season to the Boston Americans, who would later become the Boston Red Sox.

This had much historical significance, as the Highlander's role in the pennant race caused the Giants to announce they would not play in the World Series against the AL pennant winner.

Owing to a business rivalry between the two leagues, especially in New York, and to personal animosity between Giants manager John McGraw and AL President Ban Johnson, the Giants declined to meet the champions of the "junior" or "minor" league. McGraw even said his Giants were already the World Champions since they were the champions of the "only real major league".

The World Series would not be skipped again for another 90 years, when a strike threatened the entire 1994 season.

It would be the last time Boston would beat New York in a pennnant-deciding game for a full century (2004). 1904 was the year that Jack Chesbro set the single season wins record for a pitcher with 41, which still stands today.

The Polo Grounds burned down in 1911 and the Highlanders allowed the Giants to play in Hilltopper's Park during reconstruction. Relations between the two teams warmed, and the Highlanders would move into the newly built Polo Grounds in 1913.

Now playing on the Harlem River, a far cry from their high altitude home, the name "Highlanders" no longer applied, and fell into disuse among the press. The media had already widely adopted the "Yankees" nickname, coined by the New York press, and in 1913 the team became officially known as the New York Yankees.

The world of baseball has a widely diverse and interesting history, much of it goes well beyond the playing field and athletes. The start up of the American League is just one of those situations.

Yours in baseball,


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