Archive for the ‘Yankee Stadium’ Category

When the Milwaukee Brewers take the field tonight in the Bronx, it will be the first time the team has played at Yankee Stadium since 1997, and the only time as a member of the National League. Even though the Brew Crew made the switch to the NL in 1998, and to the AL Central in 1994, it’s still hard to not think of them as an A.L. East rival.

Yankees Cumulative Regular Season Record, 1980-1989

Minnesota Twins 71 43 0.623 631 477 38-19 33-24
Seattle Mariners 68 45 0.602 538 422 30-25 38-20
Baltimore Orioles 74 56 0.569 566 520 40-25 34-31
Kansas City Royals 68 52 0.567 544 526 39-21 29-31
Cleveland Indians 73 56 0.566 666 562 38-27 35-29
California Angels 63 49 0.563 531 485 36-18 27-31
Texas Rangers 62 54 0.534 572 520 38-21 24-33
Toronto Blue Jays 65 57 0.533 566 567 30-31 35-26
Oakland Athletics 61 54 0.530 514 503 36-21 25-33
Chicago White Sox 61 58 0.513 525 481 32-28 29-30
Boston Red Sox 63 60 0.512 605 587 31-30 32-30
Detroit Tigers 64 62 0.508 581 590 39-22 25-40
Milwaukee Brewers 61 62 0.496 533 559 39-23 22-39
Total 854 708 0.547 7372 6799 466-311 388-397

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Over the years, the Boston Red Sox have usually been the Yankees’ chief rival, but during ebbs in the two teams’ relationship, other franchises have stepped in to fill the void. For part of the 1980s, the Milwaukee Brewers were that team.

Yankees celebrate victory over the Brewers in the 1981 LDS. Rich Gossage recorded as save in all three games won by the Yankees.

The Yankees won more games than any other franchise in the 1980s (as George Steinbrenner was fond of pointing out), but the Brewers were the one team against which they had a losing record (albeit by only one game). During the decade, the two A.L. East teams also faced off in an often forgotten playoff series necessitated by the 1981 strike. In what turned out to be the first League Division Series in baseball history, the Yankees avoided blowing a 2-0 series lead by winning the deciding fifth game, but not before suffering two very embarrassing moments.

In the seventh inning of game 3, which was held at Yankee Stadium, an irate fan jumped out of the stands and tackled third base umpire Mike Reilly, who an inning earlier called Dave Winfield out on a close play. Luckily, Graig Nettles was able to pull the fan off Reilly before serious damage could be inflicted. The black eye given to the entire Stadium crowd, however, was not avoided.

I didn’t see him ‘til he hit me from the back. I haven’t been tackled like that since I played high school football.”Umpire Mike Reilly, quoted by AP, October 10, 1981

After dropping that game 5-3, the Yankees also lost the next one 2-1. In the process, the team went 0-7 with runners in scoring position, which infuriated the Boss. In particular, Steinbrenner fumed over a base running blunder by Rick Cerone that cost the Yankees a first and third opportunity in the seventh inning.

According to newspaper accounts, the volatile Yankees’ owner lashed into the team during a clubhouse rant, but the chief whipping boy was the Yankees’ catcher.  Perhaps still steaming from losing an arbitration case to him earlier that spring, Steinbrenner repeatedly told Cerone that he would be gone next year, which not only provoked an angry response, but also tears.

You’re all a bunch of over priced fat cats. If we lose, I’ll take the heat, but all of you will be gone. You’re an embarrassment.” – Yankees’ owner George M. Steinbrenner addressing the team after a game 4 loss in the 1981 LDS, as quoted by AP, October 11, 1981

The Yankees rallied to win the series against the Brewers and then swept Billy Martin’s Oakland Athletics in the ALCS. However, Steinbrenner’s anger was only temporarily abated. When the Yankees lost the final four games of the World Series to the Dodgers, after taking a 2-0 series lead no less, the Boss’ wrath was felt once again. This time, Steinbrenner expressed his dismay with a now infamous public apology.

Yount and Molitor were twin terrors against the Yankees during the 1980s.

Despite never being directly involved in a pennant race during the same season, the Yankees and Brewers always seemed to play competitive series punctuated by dramatic rallies and improbable comebacks. What’s more, at various points during the 1980s, both teams also featured several future Hall of Famers. Two such examples, Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, also happened to be among the Yankees’ chief tormenters during the decade. The really Yankee killer, however, was left handed pitcher Teddy Higuera, who dominated the Bronx Bombers with relative ease. Not only did the Brewers’ lefty notch a decade best 12 wins (Floyd Bannister also had 12) against the Yankees, but he also ranked first in ERA and winning percentage among all pitchers with at least 75 innings.

Although the two teams will meet this week as distant interleague opponents, it’s still fun to hark back to the days of those great 1980s Brewers. Of course, the current squad, which includes such stars as Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo, shouldn’t be taken for granted. After all, if each team maintains its current position in the standings, the Brewers next trip to the Bronx could come as soon as this October. With all eyes on the Red Sox vs. Phillies as a potential World Series preview, the real sneak peak could be taking place at Yankee Stadium.

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The Yankees rapped out 18 hits in yesterday’s 9-2 victory over the Indians, but not one wound up leaving the ballpark. It was only the 14th time all season that the Yankees failed to hit a home run, which should lighten the hearts of those overly concerned with the team’s “reliance” on the long ball.

The last time the Yankees recorded as many as 18 hits in the Bronx without sending one over the wall was the next to last game of the season in 1991 (there have been 14 occurrences since 1919). The opponent that day was also the Cleveland Indians, but this time the Tribe came out on the winning side, a paradox not uncommon for the Yankees in that era. During the game, every starter had a hit except third baseman Tory Lovullo, but the real standout was a rookie centerfielder named Bernie Williams.

Yankees’ Home Games with At Least 18 Hits and No Home Runs, Since 1919

Date Opp Rslt H LOB
6/12/2011 CLE W 9-1 18 9
10/5/1991 CLE L 5-7 19 18
7/20/1973 CHW W 12-2 20 10
8/27/1972 KCR W 9-8 26 18
8/3/1953 SLB W 11-3 18 11
7/19/1950 SLB W 16-1 21 13
9/14/1949 SLB W 13-7 19 11
6/20/1939 CHW W 13-3 19 11
6/22/1929 PHA W 4-3 18 14
6/20/1925 CHW W 12-2 22 10
7/18/1922 CHW W 14-4 20 9
6/26/1920 BOS W 14-0 18 7
8/28/1919 WSH W 5-4 19 14

Note: Click on date for link to box score.
Source: Baseball-reference.com


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During the second inning of Friday night’s game versus the Indians, five teenage boys filed into a row of empty seats high atop the Yankee Stadium grandstand. An inning later, the beer man came walking through the section. One of the teens casually raised his hand, and the eager vendor quickly approached. Upon seeing the youthful appearance of his potential customers, the beer man stopped dead in his tracks. “I need to see some ID,” he suspiciously asked.

A Yankee Stadium beer man pictured in 2009 (Photo: NY Times).

One of the five teens was wearing black dress pants and a green collared shirt. He must have been the one with a job. Because of his professional appearance, which contrasted against the t-shirts and shorts worn by his friends, perhaps one could be convinced he was of drinking age. So, when the vendor made his request, he was the first to step forward.

After being handed a driver’s license, the beer man looked it over carefully. The date of birth checked out, but the suspicion was not abated. He peered at the card again, looked up at the boy, and then back down at his hand. After a momentary pause and a shrug of the shoulder, the beer was finally handed over.

“I need two,” the emboldened teen stated, while offering up a $20 bill. “Who’s it for,” the vendor replied, “I need his ID too”.

Without missing a beat, another of the teens opened his wallet and shuffled the cards within. Prominently displayed in the clear plastic compartment was a New York State driver’s license, but the boy wasn’t looking for that one. Instead, he gingerly reached behind the card and pulled out another license, this one issued by the state of Michigan.

Once again, the vendor’s eyes darted back and forth between the card and its holder. Although common sense demanded otherwise, the picture matched and the date of birth checked out. The second beer was handed over. “Keep the change,” the teen told the vendor, a brimming sense of adult pride clearly evident in his voice.

It’s easier to get a beer at Yankee Stadium than a Jorge Posada figurine.

Friday was Jorge Posada Figurine Night. Just behind the turnstiles, a stack of boxes was piled high, and as each adult passed, a stadium employee handed one over. Lured by this scene of Christmas in June, two young boys around the age of 10 hurriedly approached the stack and eagerly held out their hands.

“You’re too young,” the employee told the boys as he extended his arm over their heads to hand a box to the father. As a look of disappointment came over their faces, the father laughed, thinking the man was having some fun at his children’s expense.

“No, seriously,” the employee said, “they’re only for adults 21 and over”.

“Really,” the father asked? “I am sorry,” the employee replied. “Oh well,” the dad said, turning back to his sons, “I guess you can share mine”.

If only the boys had remembered to bring their driver’s license.

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The Yankees and Mets just completed the most recent edition of the Subway Series, but if past events had transpired differently, train travel wouldn’t have been needed to host the rivalry.

Bill Shea throws out the first pitch on Opening Day 1964, christening the stadium that bared his name.

When the Dodgers and Giants left town after the 1957 season, there was an immediate push to return National League baseball to New York City. Although the Yankees had emerged as the dominant team in town, the senior circuit’s roots in the Big Apple were long and deep. So, even while the Bronx Bombers battled the Milwaukee Braves in the World Series, Mayor Robert Wagner commissioned a task force to find an immediate replacement for its two departing teams. In a sense, it was the city’s way of telling the Dodgers and Giants to not let the door hit them on their way out west.

Mayor Wagner’s Special Committee on Major League Baseball, which included four prominent members of the city’s business community, was charged simply with getting a National League team by any means necessary. Chaired by a well-connected lawyer named William A. Shea, the committee’s first course of action was to explore the possibility of poaching an existing team. In order to entice potential candidates, Shea and Wagner revealed plans to build a state-of-the-art ballpark on a city-owned plot of land in Flushing, Queens (ironically, it was the city’s insistence that Walter O’Malley use this site for his proposed new ballpark that forced the Dodgers to leave town in the first place). Meanwhile, the committee lobbied hard to have the territorial rules governing relocation amended so the Yankees couldn’t veto the arrival of a new neighbor. With the groundwork laid, attempts were then made to convince the Cubs, Reds, Phillies and Pirates to relocate to New York, but despite Shea’s best efforts, there were no takers.

When the relocation efforts stalled, Shea shifted the committee’s attention toward winning an expansion franchise. However, despite professing support for a new team in New York, Commissioner Ford Frick and the existing owners in the National League continued to drag their feet on the issue. So, Shea decided to take matters into his own hands. If organized baseball wouldn’t readmit New York, Shea reasoned, then the city might as well spearhead the creation of a brand new major league.

Shea’s brainchild was the Continental League. On July 27, 1959, the ambitious attorney revealed plans for a new circuit with founding franchises in New York, Houston, Minneapolis, Denver and Toronto, all cities that felt neglected by the current baseball structure. Because only New York had an existing major league team, Shea expected his Continental League to play alongside the NL and AL, not compete against it. Perhaps he was being naïve, or maybe he thought the threat of a lawsuit would force the hands of the existing 16 owners, but Shea fully expected his new venture to gain full acceptance and recognition as a third league that would eventually compete in the World Series.

We anticipate the cooperation of organized baseball, but we are all in this to stay and we are not going to back out no matter what happens.” – William A. Shea, quoted by UPI, July 27, 1959


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Earlier in the season, there was some concern expressed about the decline in attendance at Yankee Stadium. Over the first 22 games of the home schedule, approximately 3,300 fewer fans have attended each game, which represents a 7% year-over-year dip from last year’s average of 45,050. From my standpoint, however, the greater concern isn’t the people who aren’t going to the game, but the relative indifference exhibited by the ones who are.

This year, it seems as if an increasing number of games at Yankee Stadium have ended with the stands sparsely filled.

It was easy to dismiss the Stadium crowd’s passivity earlier in the season when the opponents were Chicago, Toronto and Kansas City, but last night the Red Sox were in town. Granted, the Yankees’ offense didn’t give the fans much to cheer about for most of the game, but even so, the general vibe from the crowd was indifference. This lack of investment in the outcome was made further evident when what seemed like half the stadium emptied after the bottom of the eighth. If Mark Teixeira had launched Jonathan Papelbon’s last pitch into the stands for a dramatic walk-off victory, it probably would have landed in an empty seat.

After mentioning this perceived indifference on Twitter, there were alot of interesting replies. Ross of NYY Stadium Insider (@StadiumInsider) suggested that the proliferation of smart phones might be the main culprit. Although others disagreed, it does seem as if he has a point. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to look around the stands and see just as many heads peering down at their PDAs as looking out toward the action on the field. Baseball has always been a game conducive to diversion, but is the creeping penetration of technology starting to become too much of a distraction?

Although the handheld devices theory would explain less interest and interaction, it doesn’t address the increasing proportion of the crowd that is leaving early. It’s hard to pinpoint why more and more fans are opting to beat the traffic, but over the first 20 games of the home schedule, the ballpark in the Bronx has looked more like Dodger Stadium East.


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Larry Granillo’s (Baseball Prospectus and Wezen-Ball) recent forensic investigation into Ferris Buehler’s whereabouts on his now infamous day off made for one of the more creative and entertaining blog posts in quite some time. For those who missed the piece, Granillo attempted (and succeeded) to determine the date of the game that Buehler attended with his fellow truants by analyzing the footage from WGN that was used in the movie.

In addition to being greatly amused by Granillo’s investigation, it got me to thinking about how many other unsolved baseball mysteries remain cloaked in movie clips from years gone by? The list of unidentified baseball references on the silver screen are probably too numerous to count, so let’s start at the beginning by examining one of the first movies to incorporate live baseball action into its script.

The movie in question is called Speedy (which will be featured at this year’s Rhode Island International Film Festival in August). Created by renowned silent-era funny man Harold Lloyd, the comedy tells the tale of hapless Harold “Speedy” Swift, whose addiction to the Yankees constantly interferes with his ability to remain employed. During the course of the movie, this compulsion causes Speedy to lose several jobs, including one as a taxi cab driver, but not before having the chance to chauffeur Babe Ruth in a harrowing ride from Manhattan to Yankee Stadium.

Speedy was Lloyd’s last silent film and resulted in his only Academy Award nomination, but more than anything, it is best remembered today for the spectacular footage filmed in 1927-era New York City. The extensive on-location filming pushed the movie’s price tag toward $1 million, an unheard of figure for the era, but  Lloyd’s expense immediately paid off thanks to the buzz his month-long stay in New York created.

Over the years, the movie’s archival footage has made it even more valuable as a historical reference. As Speedy whirls around the town, we get detailed glimpses of a city brimming with motor cars, horse-drawn carriages, trolleys, and elevated trains. The movie also includes vivid images of Luna Park in Coney Island, Columbus Circle, the Brooklyn Bridge, Penn Station, the Battery, Times Square, Fifth Avenue, and most importantly to baseball fans, Yankee Stadium, which is where the real point of this exercise begins.

The first glimpse of Yankee Stadium occurs early on in the movie (4:32 in the first clip). Unfortunately, the lack of clarity and detail prevents the date of the game from being indentified…at least to this point. In the meantime, we’re treated to several amusing scenes as Speedy endeavors to perform his duties while keeping tabs on the ongoing game via telephone calls to Yankee Stadium and a visit to a public scoreboard outside the local sporting goods store (which we’ll examine later).


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No team has proven to be more adept at hosting the Fall Classic than the New York Yankees, so maybe it’s time to give the Winter variety a try?

In 2009, Wrigley Field hosted the Blackhawks and Red Wings in the Winter Classic.

Too long relegated to an afterthought on the American sports scene, the NHL has managed to carve out at least one day when it takes center stage. When the first Winter Classic was held at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo on January 1, 2008, the idea of outdoor hockey seemed more like a gimmick than the beginning of a holiday tradition. However, the record attendance of 71,217 fans was resounding, and since then the game has become an annual event.

After Buffalo, the Winter Classic moved to Wrigley Field in 2009 and then Fenway Park in 2010 before winding up at Pittsburgh’s Hines Field this evening. Although the game hasn’t been played yet, there has already been talk about what site will host the 2012 edition. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has admitted that Yankee Stadium remains atop his list, but the venue’s four-year contract to host the New Era Pinstripe Bowl has been an impediment. Because the bowl game is scheduled to be played on December 30, and the Winter Classic only two days later, hosting both events in the same year has been deemed an impossibility.

Logistics should not be the reason that one of sports’ most exciting new traditions is prevented from being held in one of the country’s most cherished and symbolic athletic facilities. Compromise is not really possible on the NHL’s end because maintaining the integrity of the January 1 date seems essential to the Winter Classic tradition. So, the burden is on the Yankees to make it happen.

The Bruins and Flyers squared off at Fenway Park in the 2010 Winter Classic.

Although there are undoubtedly contractual obligations that would need to be assuaged, the Yankees should actively lean on their college football partners to temporary reschedule the game earlier in the Bowl Season (which in 2010 began on December 18). Assuming the Islanders are still around, the game could feature the struggling franchise against the New York Rangers. Not only could the high profile event help boost the woeful Islanders, but the marginal profit made from the game would likely be at its highest (i.e., replacing an Islanders’ home date would likely be more lucrative than taking one away from more established teams like the Blackhawks and Bruins). Finally, the recent Stanley Cup traditions of both teams would allow for a roster of All Stars to be in attendance (e.g., Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch and Mark Messier), not to mention one of the loudest “Potvin Sucks” chants in Islanders/Rangers history.

Just like it was in the good old days, Yankee Stadium has become a Mecca of sports and entertainment in New York City. Since opening less than two years ago, the new Yankee Stadium has been host to a World Series, an Army/Notre Dame college football game, a NCAAF bowl game, a championship boxing match and concerts featuring the most popular entertainers of the day. Between now and 2012, the organization should work diligently to add the NHL Winter Classic to that list.

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With as much as 20 inches of snow on the ground in some parts of the tri-state area, it’s probably little consolation that there are fewer than 50 days until pitchers and catchers start making their annual trek to warmer climates. After all, before getting to enjoy the first sounds of Spring Training, fans in many parts of the country must first survive at least another two months of cold and snow. However, there was a time when sports fans were able to watch the New York Yankees play under such conditions instead of waiting for the warmth of spring time. From 1946 until 1949, the legendary baseball team shared its name with one that played in the All-American Football Conference (AAFC), an upstart league that sort to challenge the incumbent National Football League (NFL) during that period (another New York Yankees football team featuring Red Grange played in the American Football League in 1926 and the NFL in 1927-1928 before disbanding).

Alignment of AAFC and NFL In 1946

Eastern Division Western Division
Boston Yanks (Fenway Park*) Detroit Lions (Briggs Stadium)
New York Giants (Polo Grounds) Chicago Bears (Wrigley Field)
Philadelphia Eagles (Shibe Park) Chicago Cardinals (Comiskey Park)
Pittsburgh Steelers (Forbes Field) Green Bay Packers (City Stadium)
Washington Redskins (Griffith Stadium) Los Angeles Rams (Los Angeles Coliseum)
Eastern Division Western Division
New York Yankees** (Yankee Stadium) Cleveland Browns**** (Municipal Stadium)
Brooklyn Dodgers*** (Ebbets Field) Chicago Rockets (Soldier Field)
Buffalo Bisons (Civic Stadium) Los Angeles Dons (Los Angeles Coliseum)
Miami Seahawks (Burdine Stadium) San Francisco 49ers****  (Kezar Stadium)

*Became New York Bulldogs in 1949 and then New York Yanks in 1950.
**First professional football team to call Yankee Stadium home.
***Not related to NFL franchise of same name that became the New York Yankees.
****Admitted to the NFL after the 1949 season.
Source: Wikipedia.com and NFL.com

The connection between the football Yankees and their baseball namesake as well as several other professional football franchises is long and convoluted. The team began as an informal football gathering of St. Mary’s College students before organizing as the Dayton Triangles.  In 1920, the Triangles became an original member of what eventually became the NFL, but moved to Brooklyn in 1930, at which point the team’s name was changed to the Dodgers. In 1934, a business man named Dan Topping purchased half of the team, and then in 1945, along with Del Webb and Larry MacPhail, also purchased a share of baseball’s New York Yankees. Now with access to the much larger Yankee Stadium, Topping sought to move his football team from Ebbets Field to the Bronx, but his intentions were rebuffed by Tim Mara, the owner of the NFL’s New York Giants. As a result, the team faced financial turmoil and eventually had to merge with another struggling franchise called the Boston Yanks (itself named in honor of the baseball Yankees by an owner anxious to move the team to Yankee Stadium).

By the end of the 1946 season, Topping had exhausted all alternatives, which made him especially receptive to the upstart AAFC. He eventually purchased the rights to the AAFC’s New York franchise, which was to be called the Yankees and play in the House That Ruth Built for baseball. In retaliation, the NFL canceled Topping’s ownership in the Boston Yanks franchise, but several of the team’s players followed him over to the Bronx.

Unissued stock certificate of the New York Yankees Football Club, Inc., which was formed by Dan Topping, who was also a part owner of baseball’s New York Yankees.

In its first two seasons, the football Yankees played the Cleveland Browns for the AAFC championship, but lost each time. On December 22, 1946, Paul Brown’s powerhouse Cleveland team, which was quarterbacked by the legendary Otto Graham, rallied from behind “on the frozen, snow-swept turf of the huge lakefront municipal stadium” to beat the Yankees 14-9. The winning score was a 16-yard touchdown pass from Graham to Dante Lavelli with only four minutes remaining in the game. The next year, on December 14, the two teams met once again on a snow covered field, but this time the venue was Yankee Stadium. For the second straight season, Graham proved to be the difference, rushing and passing for a touchdown in the Browns 14-3 victory in front of 61,879 fans.

Although teams like the Browns and Yankees attracted larger crowds than their NFL neighbors, the marketplace for professional football wasn’t big enough for two leagues, so a merger was agreed upon after the 1949 season. As part of the deal, three AAFC franchises were admitted to the NFL and the combined league was temporarily called the National-American Football League. In addition to the Browns, which won all four AAFC championships and compiled an astounding 47-4-3 record, the San Francisco 49’ers and Baltimore Colts (no relation to Johnny Unitas’ team) joined the new league, while Topping’s Yankees were left out in the cold (the NFL already had the Giants and Bulldogs in New York).

With the AAFC out of business, the NFL’s New York Bulldogs, which had formerly been the aforementioned Boston Yanks, changed its name to the New York Yanks and moved from the Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium. In addition, 18 former players from Topping’s Yankees squad joined the Yanks, extending that team’s legacy for two more years before the franchise was revoked and moved to Dallas (and later to Baltimore before ending up in Indianapolis). The site of football being played in the Bronx wasn’t dead, however, as in 1956 the football Giants moved from the Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium, which in 1958 was host to the historic NFL championship between the Giants and Colts (remember, the Colts had been the New York Bulldogs, the NFL’s first Yankee Stadium tenant).

In summary, football’s Brooklyn Dodgers became the New York Yankees, who were later merged into the New York Bulldogs before eventually becoming the Baltimore Colts team that returned to Yankee Stadium and beat the New York Giants in a pivotal championship that helped make the NFL the financial behemoth that it is today. Phew! Talk about a small world. With perhaps only slight exaggeration, it could be said that the House That Ruth Built helped build the NFL. Not bad for a part-time job in the off season.

Football Family Tree

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeU.)

Three of the most significant names in American sports history collide tonight when Army and Notre Dame not only play the fiftieth game in their historic rivalry (for a summary of every game, click here), but do so at Yankee Stadium for the first time in 41 years.

When Army first played Notre Dame on November 1, 1913, the game was really more of a warm-up for the upcoming clash with Navy later that month. However, the Westerners, as Notre Dame was labeled in the New York Times’ account of the game, upset the cadets with a revolutionary passing game that took the college football word by surprise. By the end of the afternoon, the Fighting Irish, who were captained by the legendary Knute Rockne, bested Army by a jaw dropping 35-13.

The East learned a lesson from the Middle West at West Point on Saturday, when Notre Dame showed a greater development of the possibilities of the forward pass than Eastern elevens have undertaken to master.” – New York Times, November 13, 1913

Over the next few seasons, the two teams began to develop an emerging rivalry that attracted increasing fan interest. By 1923, both teams had developed into top college programs, and the attendance at their annual matchup necessitated a move to larger stadiums in New York City. Because the Yankees and Giants were playing in the World Series that year, the first new home for the game was Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. The following year, the two teams laced up at the Polo Ground and then, in 1925, the game moved on to Yankee Stadium, where it found a home for 22 of the next 23 years (in 1930, the game was played at Chicago’s Soldier Field).

A scene from the first Army vs. Notre Dame game at Yankee Stadium in 1925.

A lot of history was made by both teams during the 22-year period when the game was played at Yankee Stadium. In 1928, with the score tied 0-0 at the half, Rockne, now the coach of Notre Dame, gave his historic “win one for the Gipper” speech. The inspirational address spurred the Fighting Irish on to a 12-6 victory, and an American sports legend was born.

The effect of psychology on football teams was never more clearly demonstrated than at Yankee Stadium Saturday. The underdog, a glowing, determined Notre Dame team rose to the heights and played better than they knew how.” – Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne, November 12, 1928, writing in an article distributed by the Christy Walsh Syndicate

Although fan interest was always heightened, the rivalry really intensified in the 1940s. Amid the backdrop of a World War, the two teams had emerged as elite, championship caliber programs, and their annual contest had evolved into a national event. From 1943 to 1946, Army and Notre Dame never ranked lower than fifth and at least one of the teams was ranked first in the country. Not surprisingly, the two teams split the four national titles in that span (Army winning in 1944 and 1945, and Notre Dame taking the crown in 1943 and 1946).

As Bill Pennington wrote in a retrospective for the New York Times, the Army vs. Notre Dame game became such a big deal that soldiers on the battle front would quiz suspected spies about the score of the most recent game in order to determine if they were really Americans. By 1946, the war had finally come to an end, and soon, so too would the game’s run at Yankee Stadium. Before saying good bye, however, the two teams engaged in what was even then being called the “Game of the Century”.

A scene from the "Game of the Century" in 1946.

In 1944 and 1945, Army outscored Notre Dame by a combined 107-0. In 1946, however, the game was being played in a new era of optimism. With many of each institutions’ war heroes back at home and in the stands for the game, the anticipation reached an unprecedented level, especially as each team entered the showdown undefeated. Because each team was averaging over 30 points per game, everyone expected a high scoring affair, but instead what occurred was an epic 0-0 tie with new names like Johnny Lujack and Doc Blanchard added to the legend.

The two foremost contenders for the mythical national college championship honors pitched camp on the outskirts today while an invading horde of thrill-seekers descended on the big town for football’s battle of century between Army and Notre Dame.” – AP, November 8, 1946

In 1947, the rivalry moved back on campus in South Bend before taking a 10-year hiatus and then resuming on a more sporadic basis. In 1969, the two teams reconvened at Yankee Stadium for one last time. However, although Notre Dame was still a powerhouse, Army’s program had faded. With Joe Theisman leading the way at QB, the Irish pummeled the Black Knights 45-0 and then closed the curtain on the rivalry’s time in the Bronx.

Over forty years later, Notre Dame and Army finally return to the grounds of a new Yankee Stadium. Even though the bloom has faded from both teams’ national profile, the powerful combination of their historic legacies and the rivalry reconvening at Yankee Stadium makes today’s game a highly anticipated event. Yankee Stadium has never been a stranger to legends, so who knows, maybe the echoes will be calling again tonight.

Army vs. Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium

Date   Score   Attendance 
 10/17/1925  Army 27, Notre Dame 0   65,000
 11/13/1926  Notre Dame 7, Army 0  63,029
 11/12/1927  Army 18, Notre Dame 0  65,678
 11/20/1928  Notre Dame 12, Army 6  78,188
11/30/1929  Notre Dame 7, Army 0  79,408
 11/28/1931  Army 12, Notre Dame 0  78,559
 11/26/1932  Notre Dame 21, Army 0  78,115
 12/2/1933  Notre Dame 13, Army 12   73,594
 11/24/1934  Notre Dame 12, Army 6  78,757
 11/16/1935  Notre Dame 6, Army 6  78,114
 11/14/1936  Notre Dame 20, Army 6  74,423
 11/13/1937  (18) Notre Dame 7, Army 0   76,359
 10/29/1938  (7) Notre Dame 19, Army 7  76,338
 11/4/1939  (4) Notre Dame 14, Army 0  75,632
 11/2/1940  (2) Notre Dame 7, Army 0  75,474
 11/1/1941  (6) Notre Dame 0, (14) Army 0   75,226
 11/7/1942  (4) Notre Dame 13, (19) Army 0   74,946
 11/6/1943  (1) Notre Dame 26, (3) Army 0  75,121
 11/11/1944  (1) Army 59, (5) Notre Dame 0  75,142
 11/10/1945  (1) Army 48, (2) Notre Dame 0  74,621
 11/9/1946  (1) Army 0, (2) Notre Dame 0  74,121
 10/11/1969  (15) Notre Dame 45, Army 0  63,786

Note: Notre Dame leads series 14-5-3 at Yankee Stadium and 37-8-4 overall.
Source: goarmysports.com

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