No better way for “The House That Ruth Built” to be christen in its first ballgame than by a home run by the legend himself, Babe Ruth. The Sultan of Swat crosses home plate after his three-run blast capped a four-run fourth inning against Boston Red Sox starter Howard Ehmke in front of a sold out and chill boned crowd of 74,000-plus, at the time the largest crowd to ever see a Major League Game.
And Ruth’s blast would be all the runs the Yanks needed in their 4-1 win.
New York’s starter Bob Shawkey would get the complete game win limiting the Red Sox to just three hits and one run while striking out five. Boston’s lone run was scored by George Burns on a seventh inning triple by second baseman Norm McMillan.
But the biggest story of the day was baseball’s newest cathedral built after the Yankees were chased out of the previous residence the Polo Grounds by Giants owner Charles Stoneham. The Yankees moved in as tenants in 1913, but things started to sour between Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and Stoneham with the arrival of Ruth in 1920, the lure of baseball’s newest superstar was helping the Yankees outdraw and upstage the Giants in their own ballpark, even despite beating the Yankees in the most recent two World Series. Stoneham even went as far as suggest Ruppert take his team to Queens. Well, Ruppert moved alright, but just across the Harlem River into the Bronx and built the biggest baseball ballpark in the world and all within eyeshot of the Polo Grounds and Stoneham.
Construction started on Yankee Stadium on May 5,1922 and was built in just over a year at the cost of $2.4 Million (roughly $34 Million in 2017 dollars). It had telephone booths, 16 bathrooms and refreshment stands on every level.
The one down side that would fester more as the years passed and the country’s growing dependence of the automobile was the lack of parking, an issue that would even end up being a major complaint of George Steinbrenner who never stopped push for a new venue.
But 1923 was more than just about the Yankees newest ballpark, it would also be the year of their first World Series title beating the now cross-river rivals in six games, and giving Ruppert another opportunity to stick it to Stoneham.
Also in the photo is Red Sox catcher Al DeVormer, home plate umpire Tommy Connolly and Yankees batboy Eddie Bennett.