All this season, we here at Pinstripe Alley have been doing a daily diary, looking back at what happened on a given day in the story of the 1998 Yankees. It’s been 25 years since that historic season, and it’s been fun to look back, remember some names, and keep track of how things were going throughout the season.
That being said, 2023 is a notable anniversary year for another very important Yankees’ team. No, not the 2013 squad that PSA’s own Andrew Mearns wrote about last week, but a another genuinely great team and season.
This year marks exactly 100 since 1923, when the Babe Ruth-led Yankee won their first World Series in franchise history. In honor of that team, it’s time for the first monthly installment of our 1923 Yankees Diary.
Through May 31: 29-10, .744 (7 GA in American League)
Due to missing April (aka I only thought up this idea a few days ago), we’re going to go back and start at the beginning of the regular season.
On Opening Day, the Yankees welcomed over 70,000 fans into Yankee Stadium for the first ever game at the soon to be legendary ballpark. While Red Sox first baseman George Burns recorded the first ever hit, Ruth hit the first home run, as the Yankees won 4-1. Fairly fitting considering that the stadium became known as “The House that Ruth Built.” They ended up sweeping Boston in the first ever series played in the Bronx.
After that, the Senators came to town for a set, which featured a couple milestones for an offseason acquisition and future Yankees’ ace. Back before the season, the Yankees had acquired pitcher Herb Pennock from the Red Sox for, in retrospect, not much. He made his Yankees’ debut in the opener against Washington, throwing 1.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen in a Yankees’ loss. Three days later, he got the start and allowed one run in a complete game win. By the end of the season, Pennock would lead the league in pitching winning percentage.
The Yankees ended April with an 8-4 record and were 1.5 games back in the AL race. They did make one very notable roster move in the month, signing a certain player named Lou Gehrig on April 30th. He wouldn’t make his MLB debut for another couple months, though. Another notable acquisition came on May 31st when they selected Ernie Johnson off waivers from the White Sox. While he didn’t come close to having the type of career that Gehrig did, Johnson forever goes down in history as the man that scored the winning run in the Yankees’ first ever World Series title.
As the calendar turned to May, the Yankees really started to heat up. A May 5th win over the Athletics took them into first place by themselves for the first time all season. They wouldn’t relinquish that position again all year.
From May 14th to the 22nd, the Yankees went on a nine-game winning steak. After that was broken, they then won six in a row to wrap up the month. One win in the nine-game steak featured Wally Schang getting hit by three pitches in one game, which is tied for the franchise record.
In totality, the Yankees went 21-6 over the course of May. After ending April back 1.5 games in the AL standings, they ended May up seven, as they began their ascent to the top of the baseball world.