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On This Day In History | 1903

January 9, 2013
The 1903 New York Highlanders (Baseball Fever)

The 1903 New York Highlanders (Baseball Fever)

On this day 110 years ago the New York Yankees franchise came into existence, though they would not be known by that monicker for another nine years.  The story begins in Baltimore, the city that would eventually house one of the team’s rivals.  As the 1900 season came to a close, Ban Johnson, the president of the minor league’s Western League, saw the need for a league to rival the powerful National League.  Three east coast cities were initiated, forming the American League.  One of those teams was slated to be in New York, but the political connections of the New York Giants stymied any such plans to bring another team to a city they felt was theirs alone.  The team was instead placed in Baltimore, a city the National League had abandoned the year before.

Thus the Orioles began in 1901, skippered by John McGraw.  The newly minted team went an impressive 68-65 in 1901, good enough for 5th in the league; however, in the middle of the 1902 season McGraw left the team for the New York Giants after a spat with Johnson, gained controlling interest of the team, and began pilfering Baltimore’s players until the AL put a stop to it.

In January of 1903 a summit was held between the rival leagues in an attempt to coexist.  Johnson reaffiirmed his desire to put an AL team in the Big Apple, an idea ratified by 15 of the 16 Major League owners, with only the Giants’ John T. Bush dissenting.  Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchased the defunct Baltimore franchise for $18,000 and moved the team to Manhattan.

The team would reside at Hilltop Park, between 165th and 168th Street, until becoming tenants of the Polo Grounds, just a few blocks away, in 1913.  Since their park resided on one of the island’s highest points, the team became known as the Highlanders until officially accepting the name “Yankees” in 1913.

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