clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

This Day in Yankees History: Bombers capture their first World Series title

The 1923 Fall Classic was an opportunity for the Yankees to prove themselves on their new home turf in the Bronx. 

Babe Ruth Shaking Warren Harding’s Hand

As modern-day Yankees fans, we revere the Yankees’ tradition of excellence and winning and take for granted their being the most storied franchise in all of sports. Twenty-seven championships. Forty pennants. In a world where teams still change uniform colors, the Yankees figured out their pinstriped branding long ago.

But that was not the case in 1923. That year, the Yankees were playing in newly-built Yankee Stadium, just a stone’s throw over the Harlem River from the New York Giants, their crosstown rivals. After sharing the Polo Grounds with the Giants, Yankee Stadium was a welcome new home. And the 1923 World Series was an opportunity for the Yankees to prove themselves on their new home turf in the Bronx.

On October 15, 1923, Game Six of the World Series unfolded at the Polo Grounds. The Yankees trailed the Giants by three runs for most of the game, and it even looked as if the Giants were going to force a deciding Game Seven. But the Yankees scored five runs in the eighth inning to clinch their first World Series Championship. It was the first of many more to come.

Daily News front page October 16, 1923, Headlines: YANKS Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

While the 1923 World Series was the Yankees’ first championship win, there were several individual players on the Yankees—Babe Ruth and “Sad” Sam Jones among them—who had won World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox in the 1910s.

And they did it by relying on Babe Ruth’s home runs. The Yankees and their powerful bats had beat Giants manager John McGraw and his team’s “inside baseball” style of playing (what would be called “small ball” today). Who knew the debate between sacrifice bunts and dingers was alive and well in 1923? Some things don’t change!

Fun facts about the 1923 World Series:

  • The home field alternated each game, a marked difference from the current 2-3-2 format. Of course, Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds were located less than a mile away from each other, and the proximity made it easier to alternate stadiums each day.
  • The Yankees faced the Giants in the 1921, 1922 and 1923 World Series. The three straight matchups are the only time that three consecutive World Series have featured the same two opponents.
  • Giants outfielder Casey Stengel hit game-winning home runs in each of his team’s two wins. In Stengel’s trademark idiosyncratic style, one of them was an inside-the-park homer, and according to baseball lore, Stengel’s shoe came loose while he was running around the bases. Stengel, of course, would eventually lead the Yankees to a number of World Series wins.
  • The 1923 Series was the first to exceed 300,000 in total attendance (301,430) and to net over one million dollars ($1,063,815.00) in gate receipts. Adjusted for inflation, that’s equivalent to $16,175,905.08 in 2020.
  • Lou Gehrig, who was a rookie in 1923, didn’t play or appear in any of the six games.

1923 New York Yankees roster

Player Pos. Bats Throws ▾ Birth Date Height Weight Hometown
Player Pos. Bats Throws ▾ Birth Date Height Weight Hometown
Whitey Witt CF L R September 28, 1895 5'7" 150 Orange, MA USA
Aaron Ward 2B R R August 28, 1896 5'10" 160 Booneville, AR USA
Elmer Smith RF L R September 21, 1892 5'10" 165 Erie County, OH USA
Bob Shawkey P R R December 4, 1890 5'11" 168 Sigel, PA USA
Everett Scott SS R R November 19, 1892 5'8" 148 Bluffton, IN USA
Wally Schang C B R August 22, 1889 5'10" 180 South Wales, NY USA
Oscar Roettger P R R February 19, 1900 6'0" 170 St. Louis, MO USA
George Pipgras P R R December 20, 1899 6'1" 185 Ida Grove, IA USA
Bob Meusel LF R R July 19, 1896 6'3" 190 San Jose, CA USA
Mike McNally SS R R September 13, 1893 5'11" 150 Minooka, PA USA
Carl Mays P L R November 12, 1891 5'11" 195 Liberty, KY USA
Sad Sam Jones P R R July 26, 1892 6'0" 170 Woodsfield, OH USA
Ernie Johnson SS L R April 29, 1888 5'9" 151 Chicago, IL USA
Waite Hoyt P R R September 9, 1899 6'0" 180 Brooklyn, NY USA
Fred Hofmann C R R June 10, 1894 5'11" 175 St. Louis, MO USA
Harvey Hendrick LF L R November 9, 1897 6'2" 190 Mason, TN USA
Hinkey Haines CF R R December 23, 1898 5'10" 170 Red Lion, PA USA
Mike Gazella SS R R October 13, 1895 5'7" 165 Olyphant, PA USA
Joe Dugan 3B R R May 12, 1897 5'11" 160 Mahanoy City, PA USA
Bullet Joe Bush P R R November 27, 1892 5'9" 173 Ehime, MN USA
Benny Bengough C R R July 27, 1898 5'7" 168 Niagara Falls, NY USA
Babe Ruth OF L L February 6, 1895 6'2" 215 Baltimore, MD USA
Wally Pipp 1B L L February 17, 1893 6'1" 180 Chicago, IL USA
Herb Pennock P B L February 10, 1894 6'0" 160 Kennett Square, PA USA
Lou Gehrig 1B L L June 19, 1903 6'0" 200 New York, NY USA
Data courtesy of baseball-reference.com

★ ★ ★

We thank Baseball-Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.