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Lot # 1153 (of 1866)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1923 New York Yankees Opening-Day Program and Ticket Stub!

Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $26,663

Exceedingly rare high-grade program (the finest example we have ever seen) and ticket stub from the first game ever played at Yankee Stadium, on April 18, 1923. While the program is exceedingly rare (this is only the fourth example we have ever handled), the ticket stub is virtually unheard of. We know of only two other examples of this historic ticket, one of which was only just recently discovered. The offered ticket was stored all these years safely tucked away in the program. The provenance of both these items is impeccable: they belonged to our consignor's father, who actually attended the game! While the family always knew that he attended the opening game at Yankee Stadium in 1923, no one was aware that he saved the program and stub. They were first discovered, along with a number of other World Series programs and tickets (all of which are offered elsewhere in this auction), by our consignor in 1990, who has decided that the time has finally come to part with them. Ideally, he has provided a one-page signed letter attesting to their remarkable original-owner provenance.

The program is considered by many to be the single most significant regular-season program in existence, and for good reason: Yankee Stadium is the most famous sports venue in America and its opening in 1923 heralded the start of baseball's greatest dynasty. Over 74,200 fans jammed the stadium on April 18th to witness the game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, and it was reported that another 25,000 people were turned away at the gates. (Coincidentally, the Yankees were the opponents for Boston during the first game at Fenway Park in 1912.) One of the main reasons for all of the excitement was the fact that the Yankees would finally have a home park to call their own. Since 1913 the Yankees had been playing their home games at the Polo Grounds, where they were simply tenants of the New York Giants. When Ruth joined the Yankees in 1920, the Giants found themselves in an embarrassing position: the Yankees were outdrawing them. Finding such a situation intolerable, the Giants basically evicted the Yankees after the 1922 season. Not a man to cross, Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert purposely built Yankee Stadium just a quarter mile south of the Polo Grounds and demanded that it be built in record time: 185 working days. At the time of its construction, Yankee Stadium, which was the first ballpark to be called a stadium, was double the size of any existing ballpark. Prior to the opening game, Babe Ruth was quoted as saying "I'd give a year of my life if I can hit a home run in this first game in this new park." The baseball gods must have been looking kindly upon Ruth that day, for in the third inning he got his wish, blasting a towering three-run homer into the right-field bleachers off pitcher Howard Ehmke. With Bob Shawkey limiting the Red Sox to just one run, Ruth's home run proved the difference in the Yankees historic 4-1 victory that afternoon. Following the game, legendary sportswriter Fred Lieb, writing in the Evening Telegram, dubbed the Yankees' new home "The House That Ruth Built," and it has remained so in the hearts and minds of fans ever since.

In addition to its enormous historical significance, and obvious extraordinary display value, the Opening Day program for Yankee Stadium is incredibly rare. In fact, this is just the fourth example REA has ever presented at auction. The first appeared as Lot 1263 in our May 2010, auction, where it sold for $14,100. Over the years we have seen literally only a few other examples. This is no doubt related to the fact that this program was produced for sale for only one day, and cost fifteen cents (a significant sum in 1923); but even so, it is almost unfathomable that so few have survived when one considers that over 74,000 people attended the game!

The sixteen-page program (9.25 x 11 inches) boasts portrait images of both Yankee owner Colonel Jacob Ruppert and Vice President Colonel Tillinghast Huston on the cover, with the preprinted text proudly proclaiming its historical provenance: "Yankee Stadium/Opening Day/April 18-1923." The pages include a photo of the new stadium, as well brief biographies of Ruppert, Huston, general manager Ed Barrow, and manager Miller Huggins. Also featured is a composite team photo of the Yankees picturing individual portrait images of twenty-three players, including Ruth. Neatly scored in pencil through the eighth inning, including Ruth's historic home run in the third inning.

The program is a true condition rarity. This is an outstanding high-grade example. Only modest handling wear is evident, including a few additional pencil notations on the scoring pages and minor corner creasing to some of the pages. Minor oxidation is evident to the two binding staples. In extraordinary Excellent to Mint condition and, most important, displaying NO RESTORATION whatsoever, which is commonly found with this program. This is BY FAR the finest example of this program we have ever seen, with its condition directly related to the fact that it has basically been preserved in storage under ideal conditions since 1923. The ticket stub is equally impressive. Aside from a nearly invisible light, horizontal crease the stub is otherwise in Near Mint condition. This is a truly historic pairing of what are arguably the two most important souvenirs in existence relating to the original Yankee Stadium. Total: 2 items (program and ticket stub). Reserve $2,500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $26,663


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