Readers may come to Robert Weintraub's THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT: A New Stadium, the First Yankees Championship, and the Redemption of 1923 and ask, “Another book about Yankee Stadium?” In truth, one would have thought that ship had sailed either in 1998, when the legendary ballpark celebrated 75 years of service, or in 2008, when it closed its doors to make way for progress. How many times do we need to hear about Babe Ruth's boozing and womanizing or Lou Gehrig's initial awkwardness or the Yankees' juggernaut?
But Weintraub, a sports columnist for Slate.com who has written for ESPN.com and other outlets, does an admirable job of finding material when you would think there was little left to say.
Yankee Stadium was born of necessity: the “junior circuit” franchise had shared the fabled Polo Grounds with John McGraw's New York Giants, a business relationship that severely soured as the tenants became more popular and successful.
Weintraub goes beyond the usual key figures as he follows a mostly chronological format to recount how the teams marched through the season on their way to a rematch of the 1922 World Series, which the Giants swept in four games (which accounts for the need for “redemption.”) The Yankees capped off their inaugural season at the Yankee Stadium (“the” being a part of the appellation in the early days) by extracting revenge against their former landlords, winning four games to two, a feat they would repeat in 2009 when they again beat their World Series opponent --- the Philadelphia Phillies --- following their first year in their new home in the Bronx.
Reviewed by Ron Kaplan (http://RonKaplansBaseballBookshelf.com) on April 4, 2011