The best books about the early years of the New York Yankees

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up a Yankee fan during the Mickey Mantle era, traveling to the Bronx in my uncle’s canary-yellow Chrysler Imperial. Those early experiences set me on a trajectory to want to play baseball every chance I got, starting with Little League and ending up on my high school’s varsity squad. Fortunately, my high school was in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where my family had moved in 1962, the same year that the Yankees began playing their pre-season games in the city, which meant when I wasn’t playing baseball at school, I was hanging around Ft. Lauderdale Stadium watching the Yankees. Yes, the Pinstripe Nation was in my blood. 


I wrote...

The Men Who Made the Yankees: The Odyssey of the World's Greatest Baseball Team from Baltimore to the Bronx

By W. Nikola-Lisa,

Book cover of The Men Who Made the Yankees: The Odyssey of the World's Greatest Baseball Team from Baltimore to the Bronx

What is my book about?

The Men Who Made the Yankees traces the rise of the New York Yankees from the origin of the American League to the Yankees’ first world championship title in 1923. The Men Who Made the Yankees focuses on a handful of club owners and the political and financial pressures that dramatically shaped the arrival of an American League franchise in New York City. 

A baseball enthusiast from a young age, Mr. Nikola-Lisa is also the author of Dear Frank: Babe Ruth, the Red Sox, and the Great War, a work of historical fiction set in Boston during the waning days of the first world war, and the forthcoming The Things He Could Have Been, or The Almost True Story of Babe Ruth.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Franchise on the Rise: The First Twenty Years of the New York Yankees

W. Nikola-Lisa Why did I love this book?

If you want a close-up look at the players who made up the early Yankee teams, this is the book for you. In Amore’s book you’ll learn about some key Yankees’ players: Wee Willie Keeler, Frank Chance (of Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance fame), Hal Chase, Roger Peckinpaugh, Frank “Home Run” Baker, and, of course, George Herman “Babe” Ruth, among many others who populated the early New York Yankee teams. 

By Dom Amore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Franchise on the Rise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2018 marks 115 years since the inception of the New York Yankees--and what a 115-year period it's been! But how did the team that has since won a league-leading 27 world championships get started? In A Franchise on the Rise, veteran sportswriter Dom Amore takes readers back in time to the first twenty years of the team's existence, from 1903 to 1923, focusing on all the major players and events, including their first ten years as the Highlanders, their move to Yankee Stadium, and their subsequent first World Series in 1923. In doing so, Amore successfully finds the characters' own…


Book cover of New York Yankees: The First 25 Years

W. Nikola-Lisa Why did I love this book?

Although Luisi’s history of the New York Yankees' first 25 years retraces some of the ground that I do in my book, Luisi’s pictorial history is a must-read for those interested in the Yankees early days. What distinguishes Luisi’s book from mine is that where Luisi begins the Yankee journey upon their arrival in upper Manhattan in 1903, two years after the founding of the American League, I go further back in time, connecting the origin of the Yankees with the formation of Ban Johnson’s upstart American League, which announced itself a major league contender in time for the 1901 season. 

Book cover of The 1923 New York Yankees: A History of Their First World Championship Season

W. Nikola-Lisa Why did I love this book?

After the Yankees emerged from their dismal days as the Hilltop Highlanders, officially becoming the New York Yankees in 1913, ten years after coming to the Washington Heights area in upper Manhattan, they made a run for the American League pennant, and, as such, for major league baseball’s largest prize—World Series Champs. But they had a very steep hill to climb: they had to claw their way over their arch-rival, the National League’s New York Giants, who defeated the Yankees in post-season play in 1921 and 1922 to claim major league baseball’s ultimate prize. Mayer tells the story of the Yankees’ third try in 1923 when they finally overcame their nemesis to stand atop the baseball world.

By Ronald A. Mayer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 1923 New York Yankees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 1923 Yankees started the dynasty - with stars like Babe Ruth, Wally Pipp, Joe Dugan and Bob Meusel, they won the pennant by 16 games before claiming the franchise's first World Series title. Five Yankees pitchers won 16 games that year, led by Sam Jones (21-8), and the team finally defeated McGraw's Giants after losing to them in the Series two years in a row. This book covers that first Yankees championship team in great detail, taking the reader through the entire season, game-by-game.


Book cover of The Arrival of the American League: Ban Johnson and the 1901 Challenge to National League Monopoly

W. Nikola-Lisa Why did I love this book?

Bancroft “Ban” Johnson, the founder and first president of the American League, set his sights early on challenging the domination of the National Leauge, which came to power in the 1870s. Wilbert’s book adequately depicts Johnson’s rise to power and his subsequent challenge to National League teams, culminating in the AL’s first official season as a major league in 1901, two years before the strong-willed Johnson was able to muscle a team into Manhattan to challenge the NL’s dominant franchise, the New York Giants.

By Warren N. Wilbert,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Arrival of the American League as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1901, Charles Comiskey and Ban Johnson launched a brazen challenge to the National League's supremacy. This book covers the American League's origins in the Western League, the decisions and planning that laid the groundwork for the American League (AL), and the 1901 season that established the AL as a new major league.


Book cover of Miracle Moments in New York Yankees History: The Turning Points, the Memorable Games, the Incredible Records

W. Nikola-Lisa Why did I love this book?

Fischer’s Miracle Moments in New York Yankees History is aptly divided into five parts, the first of which—“Birth of a Dynasty”—is the most relevant for the current topic. It covers the “Hilltop Highlander” years (1903-1913), the Yankees’ decade at the Polo Grounds as tenants of their arch-rival, the National League’s New York Giants (1913-1922), the sale of the Yankees to Ruppert and Huston (1914-1915), the acquisition of Babe Ruth (1919-1920), and their move to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and their first World Series title (1923). But Fischer’s Miracle Moments has much more to offer than these early days as it provides a panoramic view of the entire Yankees’ franchise from 1903 to the present. 

By David Fischer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miracle Moments in New York Yankees History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Throughout its illustrious history, the New York Yankees have produced some of the most memorable highlights in baseball annals. Babe Ruth's "called shot" home run, Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, Derek Jeter's amazing "Flip Play." Most Yankees fans have seen newsreel footage of Lou Gehrig's farewell speech, watched highlights of a young Mickey Mantle, and have heard the story of Billy Martin's five managerial hirings and firings. But what makes the Yankees the world's most celebrated sports franchise goes beyond sheer headlines? it is the stories of the men behind the headlines who have thrilled and enchanted New York fans…


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We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

Book cover of We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

Amy T. Waldman

New book alert!

What is my book about?

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus atUW-Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

Jest established lasting friendships with John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, and others, but ultimately, this book tells a universal story of love and hope…

We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

What is this book about?

The entertaining and inspiring story of a stubbornly independent promoter and club owner 

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus at UW–Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

This funny, nostalgia-inducing book details the lasting friendships Jest established…


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