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Why were the Yankees baseball's most important team?

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  • Why were the Yankees baseball's most important team?

    In another thread, Where do the MLB teams rank all time, most people feel the New York Yankees were baseball's most important team.

    That begs the question - "Why?"

    Is it solely due to New York City being the biggest baseball market? And if that is so, why haven't the New York Giants, New York Jets and New York Knicks enjoyed the same dynastic greatness/fame?

    I'd like to conduct a good, solid nuanced discussion.

  • #2
    "Most important" is not necessarily the "best" team.

    All the dynasties before 1921 were more important than the Yankees (as a generic name). And the 1st pro team was also more important to baseball than the Yankees.

    Baseball was pretty well established before there was even a New York "Yankees". (The Highlanders were were no New York Giants, Chicago Cubs, or Philadelphia Athletics.)
    Last edited by dgarza; 09-13-2009, 12:29 AM.

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    • #3
      So how and why did things evolve?

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      • #4
        The Yankees have by far the most World Series titles. It's as simple as that.
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
          The Yankees have by far the most World Series titles.
          For this exercise, I'd like to explore a little bit deeper and ask why they won more, and how they got that way.

          Let's delve a bit deeper this time around.

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          • #6
            They were certainly nothing special until the live ball era. Since then they have had extended periods of dominance. More Kids who grew up watching the yankees of the 1920's would dream of playing for them. Get a few all time greats on your team with a good manager and you have a good shot at a dynasty. Once free agency opened things up the Yankees could attract players with another key thing: Money.
            Not many people outside of a teams surrounding area grow up dreaming of playing for a team that is below .500 most years and hasnt made the postseason in decades.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by bob View Post
              They were certainly nothing special until the live ball era. Since then they have had extended periods of dominance. More Kids who grew up watching the yankees of the 1920's would dream of playing for them. Get a few all time greats on your team with a good manager and you have a good shot at a dynasty. Once free agency opened things up the Yankees could attract players with another key thing: Money.Not many people outside of a teams surrounding area grow up dreaming of playing for a team that is below .500 most years and hasnt made the postseason in decades.
              Sure that matters, but thats modern times, Yanks were a popular, loved and hated team long before free agency.

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              • #8
                26 titles can do that for ya

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                • #9
                  There were two other NY teams in the early years, Dodgers and Giants and the Giants owned NY. The Yanks as we know did not even have their own park, paid rent to the Giants

                  The sale of Ruth to the Yanks started the ball rolling and Harry Frazee soon sent some other Bosox to the Yanks.
                  There is no defense for what Harry did, even though we will now hear how Ban Johnson played a part in that sale to the Yanks. Even if true, which is still hard to prove, he got little in return for the sale of Ruth.

                  Harry blundered, blamed Ruth for the poor showing of the Bosox in 1919 even though Ruth lead the AL and NL in a good number of offensive stats.

                  Why, because Ruth was a "bad boy'', he could be a handful at times, not to defend some of his actions while with the Bosox. But with a potential talent, that he was already showing, you have to think that over, carefully.
                  To listen to Harry in the newspapers and public comments, Ruth was not only poison in the Bosox locker room but also said the Yanks were taking a chance with Ruth. Harry made the claim that Ruth could likely become a cripple in future years, as the result of a knee injury that Babe sustained with the Bosox. One look at his play in the outfield and the number of EBH's he totalled shoots down Harry's " future cripple" talk.
                  Harry was just trying to cover his action by giving the impression that sending Babe packing was best for the team.


                  That sale and the sending of other Bosox to the Yanks changed the landscape of the game in the AL, the once mighty Bosox were now going down and the Yanks were on their way.
                  It certainly was not Ruth alone, admitted the Yanks had the dough to make some great additions to the team over the years.

                  Here comes Lou Gehrig who was first spotted by John Mcgraw who even encouraged Lou to use a false name to play minor league ball. Supposedly John took a quick look at Lou, was very critical of Lou's glove work, John let a great one get away.

                  Joe Dimaggio scouted by a good number of teams, other teams not willing to risk Joe because of a serious knee injury, the Yanks took that chance.
                  Once that hugh fan base, even outside of NY began to build, more revenue coming in.
                  Money and the big city, certainly helped.
                  Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 09-13-2009, 09:07 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
                    In another thread, Where do the MLB teams rank all time, most people feel the New York Yankees were baseball's most important team.

                    That begs the question - "Why?"
                    That is a good question. If there is to be contraction in MLB, I think the first team to be disbanded should be the New York Yankees.

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                    • #11
                      I'm disappointed. I hoped we might discuss how the Yankees got famous. How did they get great and why?

                      If the former New York Highlanders were bought in 1915 by the 2 Colonels, Ruppert/Huston, how did they catch the New York Giants?

                      The short easy answer is that they asked the man Jake Ruppert hired in 1918 as manager, Miller Huggins, "What do you need to win?" And he supposedly said, "Get me Babe Ruth". They did.

                      So, they Yankees had Babe Ruth for 1920 and he was great but no pennant. In their Babe Ruth era, they won pennants in 1921-23, 1926-28 and 1932. They won World Championships in 1923, 1927 and 1928.

                      Was Ruth/Gehrig the only difference between the Yankees and Giants?

                      Co-Owner Huston sold his interests to Ruppert in June, 1923, after Yankee Stadium was completed in time for the opening of the 1923 season. Ruth left after 1934 and the deep pockets of Ruppert died January 13, 1939. GM Ed Barrow had a lot to do with the success of the Yankees in the 20's/30's.

                      So, why were the Yankees able to stay good after Ruppert?

                      In other words, why weren't the Giants able to keep up with Ruppert? Was Horace Stoneham that much poorer than than Ruppert the Bankroll?

                      The Giants had the same huge market as the Yankees, so why didn't they buy good stars and establish a dynasty like them.

                      The Giants did win pennants 1921-24. Why didn't that establish them as famous?

                      After Ruth left in 1935, the Yankees broke all of their old attendance records, with the team of Gehrig, DiMaggio, Dickey and Gomez. Why weren't the Giants able to keep pace with them at the gate?

                      I accept that Ruppert, Huston and Ruth had a lot to do with it in the 20's. Ruppert was willing to out-spend Stoneham to bring pennants home.

                      But the Giants must have had deep pockets too. Huh? So, why didn't the Giants become the Yankees? After all, their uniforms were almost identical, as was the famous NY logo.

                      But all of that is long ago. Why hasn't the other New York sports teams been able to milk that huge market and establish dynasties? Why not the Jets, Knicks? I just don't get it. The Yankees from 1950 on kept the dynastic legacy going. Stengel managed great and Mantle hit great. Good pitching, tight defense. So why weren't the 50's Giants able to milk that huge market and rise to the level of the Yanks. The 50's Giants had Mays but no dynasty.

                      In fact, the Giants voluntarily vacated a massive market, instead of milking it. What gave with Stoneham? Was he so hypnotized by Walter O'Malley that he somehow thought that San Francisco was a better market? Was he blind?

                      Apparently, he was contemplating vacating the very best market in the world before O'Malley led him astray.

                      Why didn't the 50's Giants learn how to milk their familiar market, instead of throwing in the towel? The 2 best NL 50's teams both, simultaneously, chose to abandon the massive New York market, instead of milking it for all it was worth. We already have fought the O'Malley wars so we need not go there this time around. I am more concerned with why Horace Stoneham couldn't turn his franchise into the all-mighty New York Yankees. Why couldn't he compete for fans?

                      Is George Steinbrenner the new, modern Jake Ruppert? The Big Bankroll. Are his deep pockets the only reason his teams do well. In fact, before 2009, his teams didn't do so well in the previous 5 seasons. Does George have good vision, or is it just his big bankroll. He did pay A-Rod/Clemens record salaries.

                      Some of his acquisitions, like Abreu (2006-08), Giambi (2002-08), Randy Johnson (2006), Gary Sheffied (2005-06), Kevin Brown (2004-05), Hideki Matsui (2003-09), Johnny Damon (2006-09) haven't proven productive to his teams. Does George have the vision of Ruppert? Or did Ruppert rely on the judgment of his GM Ed Barrow, and later George Wess, his farm director.
                      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 09-13-2009, 09:54 AM.

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                      • #12
                        In terms of "importance," the Yankees/Highlanders/Hilltoppers were important right from the inception of the American League.

                        If I'm not mistaken, the Yankee franchise moved (from Baltimore?) because it was part of the 1903 peace settlement between the AL and NL, wherein the NL moguls, who had blocked attempts by the AL to enter the NY market, finally capitulated.

                        Ban Johnson then ordered all other teams to stock the AL's NY franchise with their players -- and they were ordered not to send dregs, either. The other AL owners probably weren't happy about having to send good players to another team, but they saw the wisdom in their league having a strong New York entry.

                        So the Yankees were "important" to the survival of the league from the very beginning.

                        As to how they became a great team, I think that's fairly obvious: Harry Frazee sold the Yanks all his good players. I guess the real question to be asked, then is: Would the Yankees have become such a great dynasty in later years if they hadn't been given Babe Ruth and the nucleus of thier 1920s dynasty on a silver platter?

                        We all know the 1920s Yankees were 2/3 the great Red Sox teams of the 'teens. But would there have been those great future Yankee dynasties of the '30s-early '60s (and, later, the '70s and '90s) if Frazee hadn't sold out his own team?

                        I don't think so. I think any team for which Babe Ruth played was going to attract a lot of young players hoping to wear the same uniform the Bambino had.

                        I think the NY Giants, who had the "big-market advantage" before the Ruth sale, would have continued to dominate New York baseball, had the Yankees not been stocked with a dynasty in the early 1920s.

                        Who knows? Had that not happened, modern times might have given us the San Francisco Yankees!!!!
                        "Hey Mr. McGraw! Can I pitch to-day?"

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                        • #13
                          The Yankees attracted players in general because it became the epitome baseball to the general public because the HE become the epitome of baseball. The Yankees were not the first team to be a dominant team, but it was the first team to be a dominant team by way of the glorious HR year in and year out. Others eventually caught up, but Ruth (and Gehrig) already started the tradition. Ruth easily because the personification of baseball to the public. Being in the large city of NY helped too.

                          I think that beginning has a lot to do with people being drawn to the Yankees. I don't think it's the only reason, but an important reason.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Victory Faust View Post
                            As to how they became a great team, I think that's fairly obvious: Harry Frazee sold the Yanks all his good players. I guess the real question to be asked, then is: Would the Yankees have become such a great dynasty in later years if they hadn't been given Babe Ruth and the nucleus of their 1920s dynasty on a silver platter?

                            We all know the 1920s Yankees were 2/3 the great Red Sox teams of the 'teens. But would there have been those great future Yankee dynasties of the '30s-early '60s (and, later, the '70s and '90s) if Frazee hadn't sold out his own team?

                            I don't think so. I think any team for which Babe Ruth played was going to attract a lot of young players hoping to wear the same uniform the Bambino had.

                            I think the NY Giants, who had the "big-market advantage" before the Ruth sale, would have continued to dominate New York baseball, had the Yankees not been stocked with a dynasty in the early 1920s.

                            Who knows? Had that not happened, modern times might have given us the San Francisco Yankees!!!!
                            OK. So now, thanks to Victory Faust, we have busted this discussion open at its guts.

                            It was the "Rape of the Red Sox" that first stocked the Yanks with the players that brought it its first 'dynasty'.

                            What if, instead of Harry Frazee at its helm, the Red Sox had been sold to the 2 Colonels, Ruppert/Huston? What if the 2 Colonels didn't have to 'rape' the Red Sox, but started off with its world-class pitching staff of Ruth, Dutch Leonard, Ernie Shore, Rube Foster and Carl Mays, along with its world-class OF of Speaker/Hooper/Lewis?

                            If that had happened the dynasty that came about in NYC, would have come about in Boston. And if that had happened, then the 2 Colonels would have never had to try to screw Speaker and Tris would have stayed in Beantown instead of being shipped off to Cleveland. So, you would have had Speaker and Ruth on the same team!

                            And Carl Mays would have probably not gotten disgusted with the Red Sox in 1919 and walked off the team, only to be bought by the 2 Colonels, setting off a volley of court injunctions.

                            And in this scenario, Yankee Stadium probably never gets built. Or at least not in the opulent vision of Colonel Huston. And the well-financed BoSox would have then competed with the Giants for baseball supremacy.

                            And anyway, Harry Frazee would have been happier in NYC, with its Broadway shows, than he ever was in Boston.
                            Last edited by Bill Burgess; 09-13-2009, 10:10 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Somebody has written a book essentially on this topic, but I'm sorry to say I don't recall the title or the author's name, nor did I read all the way through. But I do remember that a large part of the answer the author gave was that Jacob Ruppert was content to reinvest his profits from the ball club at a time when the Giants' owners were taking money out of the club.

                              It probably didn't hurt, either, that, just as the Yankees were starting their climb, one of their chief potential AL rivals was crippled by the loss of much of their starting lineup and front-line pitching to the Black Sox scandal. Another, Boston, was of course taking itself out of the picture for the next fifteen years -- there's controversy over what Frazee intended to do, but that certainly was the outcome -- and the Athletics, a league power for much of the first third of the twentieth century, were in a very deep trough of a down cycle.

                              Whether Boston under other circumstances could have achieved what the Yankees did, I don't know. If Frazee had owned the Yankees and Ruppert and Huston the Red Sox, then I would guess the Yanks would not have accomplished what they did -- not until Frazee was gone, at least -- and the Red Sox would not have fallen off a cliff. But I think Ban Johnson really wanted a strong franchise in New York and worked to achieve one, not that he or anybody could have conceived of what the Yankees would eventually become, and I suspect Huston and Ruppert would in fact not have been interested in owning a club outside New York.

                              So the alternate scenarios may not represent real possibilities. Probably it was inevitable that a stronger ownership group would eventually have taken the Yankees in hand and made them a much better franchise. But it's certainly not inevitable that the Yankees would become the flagship franchise they did. As has been said, they had no advantages the Giants did not have, in fact they started with fewer advantages.
                              “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes

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