Photo via Clean Sweep Auctions
On September 30, 1973, during the last home game at Yankee Stadium before the historic arena underwent two years of renovations, diehard baseball fans came wielding screwdrivers and hammers. Not to fight fans from the opposing team of that night’s game, the Detroit Tigers, but to dismantle any memorabilia from “The House That Ruth Built.” One fan somehow got his hands on a right field sign wall that designates the 296-foot distance from home plate (h/t Forbes). A family member of the brazen fan put up the sign for auction last month and on Wednesday, after 18 bids, the 1960s era sign sold for a final sale price of $55,344.
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The Highlanders play a game at Hilltop Park in 1912, photo via NYPL
Not unlike their current power-house lineup, the most dominant team in American sports got off to quite a rocky start. Not only did the New York Highlanders, now known as the Yankees, have a losing record for many years, the team’s first home field was a mess: it was located near a swamp, the outfield had no grass, and the ballpark sat mostly unfinished. In just six weeks, 500 men hastily built the stadium on Broadway and 168th Street in Washington Heights, known as Hilltop Park, in time for the Highlander’s first home game on April 30, 1903. Due to the unsavory, rock-filled conditions, the last big league game at Hilltop Park was played in October of 1912. Following its closure, the Highlanders changed their name to the Yankees in 1913, moved to the Bronx, and went on to become one of the most successful sports teams in the world.
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