Originally founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1901, the Yankees were then known as the Orioles, before moving to New York City in 1903 and changing their name to the New York Highlanders. It wasn’t until 1913 that this name would change to what we all know today as the New York Yankees when the team moved to their new stadium, the Polo Grounds, which they shared with the New York Giants. In 1923 they moved stadiums again to Yankee Stadium, where that very same year they won their first World Series.
It is widely believed that the success of the Yankees could widely be attributed to the acquisition of a number of great players, especially from the Red Sox, in the early 1920s. Many of those players are still household names to this day and have contributed to the 20 World Series titles between the years 1923 to 1962.
1. Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth began his professional baseball career in 1914 when he was signed to the Baltimore Orioles for $600. Later that year, his impressive pitching had been noticed and he was subsequently sold to the Boston Red Sox. Despite his massive success with the Red Sox, the team owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth for $125,000 plus a large personal loan to Yankee owner Jacob Rupert. This was the start of an 86-year losing streak for the Red Sox, also known as the ‘Curse of the Bambino.’
Nicknamed the ‘Sultan of Swat’ Babe Ruth shattered his own single season record by hitting 54 home runs in his first season with the Yankees. He went on to dominate the game and increase Yankee revenue to the point that the team were able to build Yankee Stadium, otherwise known as ‘the house that Ruth built.’
2. Mickey Mantle
Mickey Mantle was born in Oklahoma to a baseball enthusiast father who taught him a powerful switch-hit (right and left-handed) from a young age. Mantle began playing baseball as a Little League shortstop at Oklahoma High School. Also, a keen footballer, Mantle sustained an injury during a football match to his leg in 1946, which resulted in the diagnosis of osteomyelitis, a bone tissue infection. At the time, his parents were advised that the amputation of the limb was necessary. However, a second opinion resulted in several operations and penicillin, a new drug, and the limb being saved.
Mantle joined the Yankees in 1951 as an outfielder until 1967 when he moved to first base. In the 1980s, 536 home runs placed him sixth among home run hitters. He played in 12 World Series in which he hit a record 18 home runs.
3. Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio was purchased by the Yankees in 1936 when in his rookie season, he batted 323 during the regular season and 346 against the New York Giants during the World Series. In 1941 DiMaggio’s consistent play led to the remarkable record of hitting safely in 56 consecutive games. No player has hit in more than 44 consecutive games since. Despite missing three seasons due to military service during World War II, DiMaggio helped the Yankees win nine World Series Titles.
4. Lou Gehrig
Often overshadowed by his teammate Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig played first base for the Yankees from 1925 to 1939. He appeared in 2130 consecutive games, batted in 150 or more runs and established the league record of 184 runs in a season. In 1932 he hit four consecutive home runs in one game, becoming the first player of the century to do so.