A Final Farewell to Yankee Stadium

The iconic Yankee Stadium hosts its final game tonight.

Sept. 21, 2008 — -- When the Yankees take the mound against the Baltimore Orioles in Yankee Stadium tonight, the game will be the culmination of 85 years of history in the House That Ruth Built . Yankee Stadium , with its 12-foot blue letters spelling out its name and welcoming guests, is a New York landmark and seminal part of Major League Baseball that has been the home to some of the nation's most memorable sports and pop culture moments.

"I am going to miss Yankee Stadium. I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't," said Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter.

The nation's most famous baseball stadium is home to the team that has won more World Championships than any other. Within the stadium's fences, 11 no-hitters, 100 World Series games, 26 championship titles and three perfect games have played out.

"Yankee Stadium is the cathedral not just of baseball but of sports," said New York Daily News national baseball columnist Bill Madden.

Stadium Beginnings

When Yankee Stadium, which seats 56,886, opened on April 18, 1923, it was because of baseball superstar Babe Ruth. The team had been playing at the New York Giants' field, but as Ruth began attracting more fans, the club was forced to build its own home.

Ruth hit the stadium's first home run against his former team and the Yankees' archrivals, the Boston Red Sox.

"It was a big bawdy era. It was called the Age of Wonderful Nonsense. We just had gotten out of World War I. All of a sudden they're breaking out and they're coming out the see the Babe do his thing," said Yankee Stadium tour director Tony Morante.

The Yankees went on to win the world championship during its inaugural season, a rare feat.

Through the doors of the iconic building, located at E. 161st St. and River Ave. in the Bronx, walked some of the sport's greatest players, like Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. It's where Reggie Jackson earned his nickname, "Mr. October," for his clutch hitting in the post-season, and where Lou Gehrig — the Iron Horse — gave a tearful goodbye at age 36 after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the disease that would come to bear his name.

But Yankee Stadium didn't just host games for its pinstriped team; it also was the home of big boxing matches with Joe Lewis, Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali. The 1958 NFL championship played out there when the Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants.

It's hosted Popes, presidents, preachers and pop stars.

When the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 shook the nation, it's where fans found their solitude, as President Bush threw out the first pitch while wearing a FDNY jacket in the first game after the incident.

Many Bronx residents see the area as hallowed ground and about much more than mere baseball.

"It's just very heartfelt to see our team leave this building which is really historic," said Bronx resident and Yankee fan Rachelle Feldman.

Now the fans and the stadium must make way for a new sports ground, which will be completed in time for the 2009 season. But the memory of this Yankee Stadium already has assured its place in the history books.

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