New York Yankees

New York Yankees

The Yankees are the guys who almost always win. Never in the history of sports has a team ever boasted such a relentless, lasting and monotonous hegemony.

Nobody can really explain why, either.

The most rational explanations given by the most scientific experts include luck (they always seem to have it in the most crucial of times), witchcraft (Babe Ruth's curse) and, of course Yogi Berra's unique intellect.

The Men Behind the Yankees

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It is better not to ask about the Yankees in New York. It's an exercise in futility. You will get no information out of a New Yorker about the Yankees. They will attribute all sort of esoteric origins to the team. Almost as if God himself had personally given Joe DiMaggio a bat in the first pages of Genesis and told him to "bat away".

To be honest, their story is much more plebeian and mundane.

The Yankees' distaste for defeat makes them insufferable in the eyes of a lot of sports fans. But even the most venomous critic will have to admit that the team is not without its legends. And the best part of all is that those legends were real, down-to-earth people to just had it in them to do great things.

The Yankees Are Born

In 1903, a group of merchants (and policemen -- it should be noted that until the early 20th century New York was considerably corrupt and every enterprise needed police "protection") bought the Baltimore Orioles with the idea of bringing them to Manhattan and have their own little team.

Since this newly-created, nameless team played atop of a hill, they were referred to as "Highlanders." But it was too long a name to fit into the small columns of a newspaper, so journalists started to refer to them as "The Yankees." In 1913, after a few years of imprecision, it became the team's official name.

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The Unmistakable Look

A year before, in 1912, some genius decided to attach a few blue stripes to the uniform. Ever since then, those stripes define baseball gear.

Sometime before that, in 1909, they had decided to copy the emblem on the medal dedicated to fallen policemen: an "N" with a "Y" superposed. This design is now worth several million dollars.

Babe Ruth

In 1920 the Yankees hired a player that wasn't very tall, had a beer belly and, at 26, wasn't very young. But he played in the best baseball team at the time: The Boston Red Sox. He cost a fortune to the struggling team. They had to get a second mortgage to pay for the half million dollars he asked.

But it was a good investment: the man in question was called George Herman Babe Ruth and would become a legend in American baseball. He would help the Yankees become one too.

That very same year, the Yankees won their first title. They haven't stopped since then. The Boston Sox, on the other hand, didn't win absolutely anything since then until their World Series in 2004. It was called the "Babe Ruth Curse," a source of bitter resentment among Bostnians.

The Team that Babe Ruth Built

Babe Ruth

Seeing as 1921 had been a very profitable year, the Yankees decided they deserved their own stadium. It is the now famous Yankee Stadium (make a point of seeing it if you can -- it's in The Bronx), also known as "the house that Babe Ruth built".

The problem was that in 1922, Babe Ruth didn't do anything -- let alone build anything. He would get drunk, fight with the umpires and fail at the game's most essential parts. A U.S. Senator publicly berated him, and Babe Ruth cried. To add to the humiliation, the Giants (New York's other team in those days) won the World Series. Sad times for the New York Yankees.

The 1923 season kicked off with a game between the Yankees and one of the most important teams in America -- Red Sox, Babe Ruth's previous team. Expectations were high, if only for the morbid curiosity of seeing how crumbling Ruth would face this old team. Over 65,000 people flocked to the Yankees Stadium and it is calculated that at least other 15,000 decided to stay outside.

The man himself started the game in the bench. His time didn't come until after a while. People booed. The commentator called him "tired and defeated" on the speakers.

Then George Herman Babe Ruth, the overweight, the tired, the drunk, hit the ball, ran across the diamond and essentially achieved the most stunning home run in history. It is still remembered to this day (ticket stubs from that day have been sold for $300 and the Stadium's program for $14,400). It was that moment that Babe Ruth started his comeback and achieved legendary status; and it was at that moment that the New York Yankees began their staunch hegemony.

By 1934, when the Yankees hired Joe DiMaggio (their other hero), Babe Ruth had scored 700 home runs.

Lou Gehrig

Then there was Lou Gehrig, one of the best players in the team's history. In 1939, after years of painfully seeing how his gift for baseball degenerated for no known reason, he announced that he was retiring for good. The strange, unknown disease he had been suffering for years would turn out to be a progressive muscular atrophy.

On the farewell speech he pronounced on Independence Day, he confessed he wasn't unhappy. He was glad for all the good times he had provided New Yorkers with and all the affection he had felt from his captive audience. He wrapped his speech with a simple thought, "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." He died soon afterwards, from the disease which now bears his name.

Even to this day, if you ask New Yorker about him, you are likely to see the distinguishable twinkle of a tear forming in his eye.