On April 10, 1913, the New York Highlanders played their first game with a new official team name: the Yankees. Often referred to as the Americans (to distinguish them from the Giants, New York’s National League team), and by extension the Yankees, the Highlanders had been the team’s official name since moving from Baltimore at the end of the 1902 season. However, with the team coming off an abysmal 50-102 season and facing declining attendance and rising costs, owners “Big Bill” Devery and Frank Ferrell figured some changes were in order. In addition to adopting Yankees as the team’s new moniker, Devery and Ferrell also moved the team out of Hilltop Park and into the Polo Grounds, home of the Giants.
The Yankees would wind up finishing the season at 57-94. Attendance did increase by over 100,000 fans (a nearly 50% rise), however, and the team had adopted a name that would rank among sports’ most widely recognized. Devery and Ferrell wound up selling the team two years later, so they never reaped the rewards of these changes. Little did they know that they had placed a name on so much future success.
The date, which was also the home opener for the Washington Senators, was also notable because it featured a ceremonial first pitch delivered by the newly elected President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson, who attended the game with his entire cabinet, threw out the first pitch to Senators’ star pitcher Walter Johnson, a tradition started three years earlier when Warren Harding did the very same. Walter Johnson then proceeded to shut down the Yankees as the Senators held on for a 2-1 victory. For a box score and game summary from the New York Times archive, click here (note the early use of the “Americans” nickname, which would remain common for sometime thereafter).