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Yanks christen another Stadium in style

Yanks christen another Stadium in style

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It's the House that Ruth Built, Baseball's Cathedral and America's Amphitheater.

But aside from its unmistakable features -- Monument Park, the façade, the short porch in right field, and Section 39 (now 203), the home of the right-field "Bleacher Creatures" -- Yankee Stadium is equally well-known for the historically great team on the field.

And once again, true to its long-standing tradition, it has made a big splash in Year One. On Wednesday night, the newest edition housed the clinching Game 6 of the Yankees' 2009 World Series triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies, as New York downed the defending champs, 7-3, for the franchise's 27th title.

The shining diamond in the South Bronx has had three openings, from the original ballpark's christening in 1923 to the re-imagined, modernized structure on the same spot's debut in 1976 to the lid-lifting of the brand-new Yankee Stadium across the street in April of this year.

All were memorable and all hyped and ballyhooed with the energy and fervor befitting of the Big Apple. And in the inaugural season of all three buildings, each Yankees team has gone on to the World Series.

The 1923 team that played in the original ballpark, built for $2.5 million on a 10-acre lot owned by the estate of William Waldorf Astor, was helmed by manager Miller Huggins.

It also featured a 28-year-old right fielder named George Herman "Babe" Ruth, who had a typically Ruthian year, hitting .393 with 41 home runs, 131 RBIs, 151 runs and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.309.

Not surprisingly, Babe hit the first homer in the Stadium's history, and his Yanks rode the momentum of the yard and the team to the franchise's first world championship by beating the New York Giants in the Fall Classic in six games.

Billy Martin's 1976 team, playing in the newly refurbished Stadium, won 97 regular-season games and took the pennant over the Kansas City Royals on Chris Chambliss' American League Championship Series-ending home run before getting swept in the World Series by the powerhouse Cincinnati Reds. Still, the seeds were sown for consecutive world titles that would come in the following two years.

Ring it in
Yankee Stadium became the fifth ballpark to house the World Series champion in its first full season of existence.
Year Team Stadium
2009 Yankees Yankee Stadium
2006 Cardinals Busch Stadium
1971 Pirates Three Rivers Stadium*
1923 Yankees Yankee Stadium
1912 Red Sox Fenway Park
* 1971 was the Pirates' first full season in Three Rivers Stadium. It opened in July of 1970.

This season, the new Yankee Stadium opened across the street and has electrified the baseball world with its unprecedented price tag ($1.3 billion), DiamondVision HDTV screen (60 feet tall, 110 feet wide) and first-class amenities.

The players responded, putting up a Major League-high 103 regular-season victories and capped it off with World Series ring No. 27, beating the Phillies in the 2009 World Series.

"I don't know that it could be more perfect," Yankees co-chairman Hal Steinbrenner said. "Coming into this unbelievable stadium that the fans have loved all year long and doing this was exactly what needed to happen as far as we're concerned. But it hasn't hit me yet."

So is there a connection between Yankee Stadium opening seasons and World Series appearances, or is this just the House that Coincidence Built?

It's hard to tell, according to Al Santasiere, the Yankees' director of publications and a team historian, but one thing's beyond doubt.

"It's an exceptional accomplishment for the organization," says Santasiere, the co-author (with Mark Vancil) of "Yankee Stadium: The Official Retrospective" and "The Final Season: The Official Retrospective," both of which were published in the weeks leading up to the original Stadium's last game on Sept. 21, 2008.

"In 1923, 1976 and now, one constant is that the Yankees have put forth teams that matched the majesty of the stadiums in all of those situations.

"You think about how great the original Yankee Stadium was in 1923. It was better than any ballpark around, and they put a team out that matched what the stadium was. That whole year was a celebration of the opening of Yankee Stadium, but also a celebration of the team that was playing there. The same can be said for 1976 and 2009."

It might be a while before the Yankees and their fans get to party like it's 2009.

HOUSEWARMING
Facts and stats surrounding the years when both Yankee Stadiums were built and when old Yankee Stadium was renovated.
Item 1923 1976 2009
U.S. President W. Harding/C. Coolidge Gerald R. Ford Barack Obama
Avg. price of gas per gallon 20-25 cents 61 cents $2.69
U.S. population 111,947,000 218,035,164 307,852,614
NYC population (appx.) 5,600,000 7,500,000 8,500,000
Yankee Stadium construction $2.5 million $167 million $1.3 billion
Yankee Stadium seating 56,886 54,028 52,325
NYY record 98-54 97-62 103-59
NYY manager Miller Huggins Billy Martin Joe Girardi
NYY batting leader Babe Ruth (.393) Mickey Rivers (.312) Derek Jeter (.334)
NYY HR leader Ruth (41) Graig Nettles (32) Mark Teixeira (39)
NYY wins leader Sam Jones (21) Ed Figueroa (19) CC Sabathia (19)

The team, coming off its first year without a postseason appearance since 1993, invested $423.5 million in three free agents -- CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett -- and watched as the club rolled to the AL East championship before conquering the Minnesota Twins in the AL Division Series, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the ALCS and the defending world champion Phillies in the World Series.

It's all part of a rich and ongoing story, Santasiere says.

"Again this year, you really have the gem of baseball in the new Yankee Stadium, and again, you've put the gem of baseball onto the field. The team won more games than any team in baseball this year and has had an exceptional run in the postseason."

And the new Stadium, while packed with every conceivable modern convenience, also pays homage to its 1923 predecessor around every corner, from the Gate 4 Yankee Stadium entrance sign set in limestone and chiseled in gold leaf to the Great Hall honoring the famous ghosts of World Series past.

"It's fitting for this Stadium to have this type of team," Santasiere says.

"It's a reflection of the Yankees tradition."

Doug Miller is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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