Remembering Yankee Stadium:
(For your reading pleasure adapted from
REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE
THAT RUTH BUILT, on sale everywhere, buy it now)
BOB SHEPPARD: I went a bit in my early teens to
Yankee Stadium with a group of fellows from my neighborhood in
Queens. And believe it or not the one player who played first base
for the St. Louis Browns caught my eye - his name was George Sisler.
Left-handed, graceful and a phenomenal hitter. And since I was a
first baseman myself, I thought 'That's my idol: George Sisler.'
The man who would become the idol of Japanese
baseball fans, Babe Ruth gave some of their navy officers a thrill
in the spring of 1927. Their ships were docked in New York harbor
and some of the officers were invited up to the Bronx as guests of
the Yankees. Babe Ruth popped two homers, one a bases-loaded job.
The officers were much taken with the huge slugger; they had never
seen anyone before hit a baseball the way the Babe did.
Seven years later when in 1934, the Sultan of Swat
tooled about in Japan, he was a super hero. Some called him "Father
of Japanese baseball." Others called him "Baby Roos!" And it all
started at Yankee Stadium.
It all started for Bill Werber at Yankee Stadium, too.
BILL WERBER: The great Yankee scout Paul Krichell
gave me a good deal to become a member of the Yankees after my
freshman year at Duke in 1927. I had a uniform and a locker by
myself. I stayed downtown at the Colonial Hotel with a coach by the
name of O'Leary. I took the train uptown and got off across from
the Stadium at the 161st Street stop. It was maybe a half an hour
Yankee Stadium was enormous. It was immaculate. I
was somewhat awed. I was told by Paul Krichell to stay as close to
the manager Miller Huggins as I could. Sometimes I was very close
. He was really hands on. He didn't miss a trick.
The clubhouse didn't have any food, and there wasn't
anything to drink other than water. The secretary Mark Roth used to
come in and place an envelope on the seat in front of every player's
locker. One of the players would usually get Ruth's envelope, slit
it open, and paste the check which was for about $7500 on the mirror
where the fellows combed their hair. The Babe was usually the last
player to arrive for a game, and he would take the check off the
mirror and put it in his pocket and take it out onto the field with
I was a stranger in their territory. They were
rough, a hard-nosed, tobacco-chewing crew. If I got in at shortstop
to field a ball in batting practice they would run me out. Some
player would say: "Get out of here kid." When I would go to the
outfield, some player would yell: "Get out of here kid." And I
never had a chance to get into the batting cage.
The whole experience in 1927 was not that much of a
thrill for me. After I was there for about a month, I told Mr.
Barrow, the general manager, that I had made a bad decision and I
was leaving the Yankees. One that I felt bad about leaving was Pete
Sheehy; he was a good fellow, not much older than me, maybe younger.
RON SWOBODA: Pete Sheehy had started in the clubhouse as a boy
working with the 1927 Yankees. He told me how Babe Ruth would come
in and say: "Petey, give me a bi (bicarbonate of soda)."
A Yankee culture created by manager Miller Huggins
was always in place. The little pilot was like a school teacher,
training each member of the team. Players had to report for games at
10:00 at the Stadium - - to sign in, not to practice, a move
designed to reduce late night ribaldry. Blackslapping was frowned
upon as were flamboyant displays, noisemaking, razzing of
The 1927 Yankees were a symbol of their time - power
and dash. But a rival to their throne was Charles Lindbergh, the
daring aviator who had flown solo round-trip across the Atlantic.
On June 16th he was scheduled to be an honored guest
at Yankee Stadium. Three field boxes were painted and primed for him
and other dignitaries. Extra police patrolled the aisles all over
the park. But game time approached, and there was no "Lucky Lindy."
Fifteen thousand fans who'd come to see the game with
St. Louis were antsy. Umpire George Hildebrand held up the first
pitch for almost a half hour. Finally, at 3:55 P.M., he decided he
could and would wait no more and yelled out: "Play ball!"
"I feel a homer coming on," Babe Ruth said. "My left
ear itches. That's a sure sign. I had been saving that homer for
Lindbergh and then he doesn't show up. I guess he thinks this is a
First at bat of the game, the Babe hit his 22nd
homer, half way up in the bleachers in left centerfield. It came off
31-year-old southpaw Tom Zachary. The Bambino would hit a much more
significant shot late in the season off that same Zachary.
The Yankees romped, 8-1, over the sad sack Browns
The next day's headlines in The Times declared :
"LINDBERGH GOT TO PARIS ON TIME BUT WAS MORE THAN AN HOUR LATE TO
SEE BABE RUTH HIT A HOME RUN YESTERDAY" ....