Hilltip Park, original home of the New York Highlanders. Mandatory Credit: ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com

1913 Year In Review-Why The Highlanders Became The Yankees

So you are a big Yankees fan, right? Then you already know that the Yankees were originally called the  Highlanders, don’t you? But here’s the tough one. Do you know why the name was changed?

Well, the name change came primarily because of a change in where the club had played its home games. In the years preceding 1913, the club played at a field that was reportedly located on the top of a hill. Thus, the park was appropriately known as Hilltop Park.

But in 1913, the team moved to the Polo Grounds. The Polo Grounds had been devastated by a fire in 1911 and had needed to be rebuilt.The Highlanders had graciously allowed the Giants of the National League to share their home at Hilltop Park while the Polo Grounds were being rebuilt.

With Hilltop Park becoming old and decrepit, the Giants returned the favor and invited the Highlanders into their home in 1913. The problem was that the Highlanders nickname no longer made sense. The team no longer played at the top of a hill, they now played in a hollow near the Harlem River.

It was common for teams to go by more than one nickname in those days. Many fans had already referred to the team as the Yankees. So it was an easy transition to make that the new name.

On the field, it was a difficult year. The Yankees finished in seventh place in an eight-team American League, with a record of 57-94. They were one game ahead of the eighth- placed St Louis Browns.

Manager Frank Chance had his job cut out for him. But the lineup was not without standouts. Outfielder George Whiteman led the way with a .344 batting  average. On the mound, Russ Ford was  the ace. He tied for the team lead with 12 wins, and he also had the second best ERA of 2.66.

But the horizon was soon to get brighter. At the end of the 1914 season, owners William Devery and Frank Farrell, who reportedly were more interested in gambling than baseball, sold the Yankees to Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston. In 1920, the new owners bought Babe Ruth from the Red Sox for $125,000, and the Yankees were soon living the high life once again.

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Tags: Babe Ruth Hilltop Park New York Yankees Polo Grounds

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