Friday, November 07, 2008

Remembering Yankee Stadium: THE THIRTIES

(For your reading pleasure adapted from REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT, on sale everywhere, buy it now)

The tradition of honoring their legends at Yankee Stadium started on Memorial Day of 1932 when a monument for Miller Huggins, the little manager who had passed away at age of 51 on September 25, 1929, was placed in deep center field, Its inscription reads "A splendid character who made priceless contributions to baseball.” Monuments would later be erected for Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Others would follow.

Located in straightaway centerfield, they were part of the playing field, standing near the flagpole about ten feet before the wall. There were times when long drives rolled behind the monuments, and retrieving the ball became an odd and “ghoulish” task for an outfielder jockeying around the “gravestones.”

On June 23, 1932 Gehrig had played in his 1,103rd straight game. Less than a year later the streak was at 1,249 straight when he and manager Joe McCarthy were tossed out of out of the game for arguing with the umpire. The Yankee manager was given a three game suspension. Gehrig played on. On August 17, 1933 Gehrig broke the record of playing in 1,308 straight games set by Everett Scott.

October 1, 1933 was the final game of the season. Attempting to draw fans for a meaningless contest in the depths of the Great Depression, the Yankees gave Ruth a pitching start. Babe’s appearance attracted 20,000 fans, more than doubling the attendance of the day before. The thirty-eight-year-old pitched a complete game, nipping his old Boston team, 6-5. He also batted cleanup, went 1-for-3 with a home run. It was the last game he pitched, his fifth since he joined the Yankees 13 years earlier.

During the 1934 season, Lou Gehrig’s failing health became evident to all. The problem was diagnosed as lumbago. On July 13, 1934, his pain became so severe in the first inning of a game against Detroit, he had to be assisted off the field. The next day, listed first in the Yankee batting order and penciled in to play shortstop, the "Iron Horse" singled in his first at bat but was then replaced by a pinch runner.

September 24, 1934 was the Babe’s last game as a player in “the “House That Ruth Built,“ a sad and poignant day for him and his many fans. Twenty-four thousand were there, including many youngsters in “Ruthville.” In three at bats, he went hitless. Disappointed and dejected that his fabulous career in pinstripes was over, he could never imagine how his name and legend would gain more and more luster as the years passed. Today a Google search for "Babe Ruth" results in millions of hits. A Sotheby's auction of his 1919 contract netted $996,000. . . .

Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in September 2008 as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.". Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed. FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

Harvey Frommer "Dartmouth's own Mr. Baseball" Dartmouth Alumni Magazine/ HARVEYFROMMERSPORTS.COMREMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM (Definitive Book) "New & Notable"
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