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Do You Remember?

"The House That Ruth Built"

  
Joe DiMaggio
Joltin' Joe leaving Yankee Stadium
  
    Yankee Stadium 1943 
 
Yankee Stadium 1943, Dodgers won 3-0

(Reprinted from the Bronx Times Reporter January 17, 1991)

Yankee Stadium, at River Avenue and 161 Street, was built in 1922 at a cost of three million dollars. It had a seating capacity of 75,000 when it opened on April 18, 1923. Governor Al Smith threw out the first ball to a huge crowd that watched the Yankees trounce the Red Sox with a 4 - 1 win and standing room only soon became the norm.

In the early years, Yankee Stadium was known for more than baseball. Many big fights, tennis matches and even football games drew huge crowds. Who can forget Joe Louis kayoing Max Schneling at the Stadium in June of 1938?

The first televised boxing match was produced at the Stadium in 1939 by WNBC-TV. It featured the big fight between Max Bear and Lou Nova. NBC didn't televise the World Series until 1947.

Television in 1939 was a rarity with receivers costing the grand sum of $600.00. Few people could obviously afford it and the only other way to witness the great sporting events of the day was to get to Yankee Stadium. And get there they did!

Conveniently located next to the Jerome Avenue line of the IRT and the 161 Street trolley stop, access was not a problem. It quickly became a popular tourist spot for the big events and once TV became popular, both Yankee Stadium and its home, the Bronx, became known nationwide. Indeed, the Yankees, themselves, became known as "The Bronx Bombers," and winning became the norm.

Babe Ruth was the big draw in the early years and the Stadium soon became known as "The house That Ruth Built." So popular was "the Babe" that in 1949 the nearby plaza was dedicated in his honor.

Among those present for the dedication was the then famous centerfielder, Joe DiMaggio. A southpaw, he gave the opposing left fielders something to worry about when he was at bat. He, too, soon became a legend like Ruth and Gehrig before him. Who recalls Les Brown's first hit song, Joltin Joe DiMaggio ? When it came out, it reached number 12 on the charts.

The featured photographs show the Yankees, I'm sorry to say, losing to the Dodgers 3-0 in April of 1943 and a youthful Joe DiMaggio in 1942.

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