Date: Tue, 1 Oct 1996 01:10:17 -0400 From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM Subject: Naming of the "New York Yankees" "The new team was called the Highlanders, primarily because their ball park was built on a tract of land in Washington Heights, Manhattan Island's most elevated point. The name was never very popular with the fans (nor with linotype operators, who had trouble squeezing it into headlines), and gradually the more American-sounding 'Yankees' became attached to the club. It is unclear when, how, and where the name originated." ---THE NEW YORK YANKEES: An Illustrated History by Donald Honig, Crown Publishers, Inc., NY, 1981, pg. 4. This is the story of how the New York Yankees franchise got its name. For over four generations, no one has known who named them and no one has known why. Now, as the team enters the playoffs, we'll solve it. This project was started earlier this year. In February, I briefly lectured before a local section of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) on the "Origin of the Fan." A SABR newsletter announced the publication of a new book--The Yankee Encyclopedia by Mark Gallagher (1996). This would HAVE to have the answer! Actually, it didn't have it. On pg. 326 under "1913" it merely stated: "Now officially know as the Yankees (the name by which they were commonly known since 1903), New York's American Leaguers abandoned Hilltop Park and moved into the Polo Grounds as tenants of the Giants." No who, nor why, nor exactly when. I checked the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, and the National Baseball Library in Cooperstown, NY. They were called "Yankees" in 1903, or 1904, or 1908, or 1911. The best citation I could find--clearly not the first--was mid-summer of 1904 from a Boston newspaper. The book The Yankees Reader (1991) contains an excerpt of a Sept. 1951 Sport Magazine article on the Yankees by the legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice. "It was in the spring of 1904 that I first saw the New York Yankees, or Highlanders as they were known then.... The American League first started boasting about the Yankees 48 years ago. They weren't the Yankees then, of course. In that first year of their history, 1903, the newspapers referred to them as the Greater New York Club of the American League.... (I'll refer to them as the Yankees from now on, because that nickname became popular around 1908, especially with the newspapermen who had a hard time fitting 'Highlanders' into one-column heads.)" The team's uniforms. of course, simply stated "New York," and manager Frank Chance was happy with just that. In a letter to President Frank Farrell that was published in many newspapers on January 16, 1913, Chance wrote "Wouldn't it be a good idea to call our team the New Yorks instead of the Highlanders, Yankees, Hilltops, Hillmen or Kilties? McGraw's men have a copyright on the nickname Giants, and they deserve it, for they have accomplished big things in the National League. They always will be Giants in the full sense of the word. "Therefore, in calling our team the New Yorks we are not appropriating something that doesn't belong to us. The nicknames 'Highlanders,' 'Yankees' and others are meaningless. In cities outside of New York they attract no attention. In fact, I think that this nickname business in baseball has been overdone. We are going to try to bring New York to the top of the heap in the American League, and we will have 'New York' on our uniforms. I hope the newspapers and the baseball public will call us the New Yorks in the future; also that we will be worthy of the name." In 1903--that very first year--'Highlanders' of course was used, but sparingly. They were the New York club, or the Americans, or the Greater New Yorks. "INVADERS OPEN WITH SENATORS" wrote the April 22, 1903 New York Evening Journal. Yes, they were called the Invaders! The Evening Journal (owned by one William Randolph Hearst) regularly used "Invaders" that first year; so did the New York Evening World. Then, in the spring of 1904, the Evening Journal started using "Highlanders" as the team began practicing in the South. The Atlanta Constitution of 14 March 1904 called them the "New York Team" and the "New York Americans." The Richmond Times-Dispatch of 8 April 1904 called them the "New Yorkers." The New Orleans Daily Picayune of a week before used all three of these names. The Atlanta Constitution of 17 March 1904 mentioned that they were the "Gothamites." No one in the South--in print, at least--called them "Yankees." On April 6, 1904, William Randolph Hearst's Evening Journal ran an editorial called "Are We Really 'The Ungrateful Yankees?" It continued: "The Moscow Gazette publishes a historical review of the relations between Russia and America, and remarks: "Henceforth the Americans will be styled 'the ungrateful Yankees!'" Moscow's view was that it was losing a war with Japan and needed the United States' help. Hearst's view was that we like the Russian people, but we don't like the Czar, so we ain't helpin' ya. On April 7, 1904, pg. 15, the gold mine appeared! A wrestling article is headlined "RUSSIAN LION DODGES YANKEE." A photo header reads "CONROY AND BROWNE, WHO LEAD BATTING LISTS OF GOTHAM NINES./CONROY, OF THE AMERICANS./BROWNE, OF THE GIANTS." In the middle of this is "HIGHLANDERS CANCEL GAMES. The games between the New York American League team and the nines of Columbia and Manhattan Colleges scheduled for to-morrow and Saturday have been called off...." And then, on the far right hand side of the page: "YANKEES WILL START HOME FROM SOUTH TO-DAY. RICHMOND, Va., April 7.--The Highlanders and Montreals play here again this afternoon. After the game the New Yorkers will jump aboard a train bound for Gotham and their training trip in the South will be over...." In this one page we have Gotham Nines, New York American League Team, Americans, Highlanders, and for the first time ever, "Yankees." The top of the page states that the sports section is "Written by Experts and Edited for the EVENING JOURNAL by HARRY BEECHER." On April 13, 1904, a pre-season score of the "YANKEES" made the top of page one. The season opener was that day. The next day, April 14, 1904, in three-inch type that you can see across a room, there appeared "YANKEES BEAT BOSTON." The Yankees were born that month, in a Hearst newspaper, care of "Harry Beecher." I have written to the Harriet Beecher Stowe house in Hartford, Ct., and this person's full name was "Henry Ward Beecher." He was the grandson of the Preacher Henry Ward Beecher, and the grand-nephew of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us to explain the naming. In American Speech of about fifty years ago (Dec. 1947), H. L. Mencken wrote a piece called "Names For Americans." On pp. 251-252 about Connecticut names, "...a correspondent named Larry B. Murphy suggested _Connectican_,but admitted that he had never heard citizens of Connecticut called anything save 'just plain _Yankees_.'" It is interesting to compare the "Connecticut Yankee" and its influence on the "New York Yankees." Anyone who has been to the Harriet Beecher Stowe house in Hartford knows that Mark Twain's house is right next door. Perhaps Twain's last major novel was A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, which Harry Beecher had surely read. Twain was a famous speaker, and he had often watched little Harry Beecher's grandfather's sermons. It was also a Beecher preacher who conducted Mark Twain's marriage. Mark Twain held the publishing rights to Henry Ward Beecher's autobiography, but Beecher died before completing it. I would very much like help in contacting any surviving Beechers. We can learn much about what Harry Beecher thought, and why he named the team as he did. There's not a moment to lose in these matters. New York City newspapers and politicans can help greatly. A final note concerns the Yankee pinstripes. These were added in 1911--before the team name became official. This comes from GALAXY, 15 Sept. 1866, pp. 189-190: The origin of the air, and we believe of the words, of "Yankee Doodle" is yet undiscovered. We venture to assert, however, that we have found the origin of one of the most striking passages in that wonderful performance--to wit, of these lines: 'Yankee Doodle went to town And wore his striped trouses; Said he couldn't see the town There was so many houses." The questions cannot but present themselves--nay, without doubt have presented themselves, somewhat importunately to the minds of men for nearly three-quarters of a century--Why should "Yankee Doodle," at a time when breeches were almost your only wear, have indued himself with striped trousers? and as no town was so large in this country before 1776 as to suggest that wonderful assertion with which this stanza closes, whence did the author get this idea? To the last question there is this very sufficient answer: He got it, directly or indirectly, from Etienne Tabourot, Seigneur d'Accords. This gentleman published, among other trifles, the "Apophthegmes du Sieur Gaulard," which appeared in 1586. The Sieur Gaulard is represented as a rustic-bred, blundering gentleman, not without drollery and mother with. Among his sayings is this one, uttered, the author tells us, as he was passing through Paris: Chascun me disoit que je verrois une si grande et belle ville; mais on se mocquait bien de moi; car on ne la peut a cause de la multitude des maisons qui empeschent la veue. That is, Everyone told me that I should see such a large and beautiful city; but they were making fun of me; for one could not see the town by reason of the multitude of houses which hid the view. This is unmistakably the origin of the stanza of "Yankee Doodle" above quoted. It is indeed so probable as to be almost certain that the author of "Yankee Doodle" never read or even heard of the "Apophthemes" of Gaulard. But the story we may be sure had been handed down verbally from Tabourot's time to that of our author, and the latter had heard it, and remembering it, used it in this stanza. And as in poetry of much more pretension than "Yankee Doodle" one couplet is often written for sense and one for rhyme, it is more than probable that the need of a rhyme for "houses" caused the hero of the song to be indued with those striped trousers which he still preserves in all caricatures--the more that he thereby seems, like Kirby, to wrap himself up in the American flag. ------------------------------------------------