Monument Park (Yankee Stadium)

Monument Park (Yankee Stadium)

Monument Park at the new Yankee Stadium

Monument Park is an open-air museum located at the new Yankee Stadium containing a collection of monuments, plaques, and retired numbers honoring distinguished members of the New York Yankees. When Red Ruffing's plaque was dedicated in 2004, his son called it "the second-greatest honor you can have in baseball, in my opinion" trailing only induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.[1]

The history of the original Monument Park can be traced to the old Yankee Stadium in 1929, when the team posthumously dedicated an on-field monument to manager Miller Huggins in center field. Additional team members were honored with monuments and plaques in the area over the years. During the stadium's renovation in the mid-1970s, the center field fence was moved in 44 feet, enclosing prior monuments, plaques, and a flag pole beyond the field of play. Over time, additional plaques were added to the area and "Monument Park" became formalized; in 1985, the park was opened for public access. When the Yankees moved to their new ballpark in 2009, a replica Monument Park was built beyond the center-field fences and the contents of the old one transported over.

Thirty-one members of the Yankee organization have been honored in Monument Park; all but one have received plaques, while eighteen have had their uniform numbers retired. Plaques in Monument Park are a great honor for players so distinguished. The monuments mounted posthumously on five large red granite blocks are the highest honor of all. Only six Yankees have been so recognized: players George Steinbrenner.


  • History 1
    • Precursor 1.1
    • Monument Park I 1.2
    • Monument Park II 1.3
  • Honorees 2
    • Honored baseball members 2.1
    • Other honorees 2.2
  • Photo gallery 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6



The original placement of the monuments in deep center field at the pre-renovated Yankee Stadium.

The original Yankee Stadium was built in 1923. As with many other so-called Jewel Box ballparks of the era the flag pole was placed in play. With a generous center field dimension of 500 feet (150 m) to straightaway center field, there was plenty of room for it without materially interfering in play. In 1929, Yankees manager Miller Huggins died suddenly, and in his honor the team erected a free-standing monument in front of the flag pole consisting of a bronze plaque mounted on an upright block of red granite resembling a headstone. This, in turn, led many Yankee fans over the years, particularly children, to believe that the players honored were also buried there upon their death.[2]

The Huggins monument was later joined by similar memorials to Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth erected upon their deaths.[3] Over time a number of plaques were mounted behind them on the outfield wall. Placing monuments in the field of play was not so unusual at the time, as there had been in-play stones and plaques at the Polo Grounds and Forbes Field. In 1969, Mickey Mantle was given a plaque by Joe DiMaggio to hang on the center field wall, who in turn gave Joe DiMaggio a plaque of his own which, in Mickey's words, had to be hung a little bit higher than his.[4]

From 1936 through 1973, the distance from home plate to the center field fence was 461 feet (141 m).[3] Despite the distance, a batted ball still sometimes made it back there. In the 1992 book The Gospel According to Casey, by Ira Berkow and Jim Kaplan, it is reported that on one occasion a Yankees outfielder had let the ball get by him and was fumbling for it among the monuments. Manager Casey Stengel hollered to the field, "Ruth, Gehrig, Huggins, somebody get that ball back to the infield!"[5]

Monument Park I

The original Monument Park consisted of a row of monuments with plaques lining the wall behind them

When Yankee Stadium was remodeled from 1974-1975, the center field fence was moved in to 417 feet (127 m) from its previous 457 feet (139 m); a subsequent reduction brought the fence in again to 410 feet (120 m). This enclosed the area, formerly in play, containing the flag pole and monuments. As this fenced in area between the two bullpens gathered additional plaques on the original wall it began to be referred to as "Monument Park".[6]

With the formalization of the area as an official Monument Park, the Mantle and DiMaggio plaques were removed from the wall upon their deaths and mounted on red granite blocks matching the original three of Huggins, Gehrig, and Ruth.

It was an achievement for a home run to reach Monument Park on the fly. Among those who did so were Thurman Munson (in Game 3 of the 1978 American League Championship Series) and Alex Rodriguez (in August 2005).

Monument Park was inaccessible to fans until 1985.[6] After the center field fence was moved in, the Yankees enabled fans to visit Monument Park prior to most games at Yankee Stadium.[6] Monument Park was also part of the public tour of the venue.

Monument Park II

The second Monument Park.

When the Yankees moved to their new ballpark, the Yankees established a new Monument Park in the new stadium.[7] An area was built behind the fence in straightaway center field, below the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar that serves as the batter's eye. Built of pearl blue granite from Finland,[8] this new monument park features the five Yankee monuments in a central area around a black marble Yankees logo. This is flanked by two short stone walls which hold the retired numbers. The plaques are mounted on the back wall and the September 11 monument is on one end of the park.

In contrast to the old stadium, the new Monument Park is not readily visible from the field, and its relatively drab appearance and inconspicuous placement have led some to derisively nickname it "Monument Cave". Spectators can visit Monument Park prior to the beginning of each game. It closes around a half hour before first pitch.[9][10]


Honored baseball members

The following players and other Yankees personnel are honored with monuments or plaques in Monument Park. Monuments are considered a greater honor than plaques, and are only awarded posthumously.[11] Often, the uniform number of the player being honored is retired in the same ceremony. Such events historically often took place either at home openers or on Old Timers' Day, but have lately been scheduled on separate weekend home games. Figures are listed in the order in which their plaques were dedicated:

Plaques lined the rear wall of the original Monument Park
Honoree Name of the honoree
Position(s) Fielding position(s) or role in the organization
Yankee career Years with the Yankee organization
Number retired (x) Date number retired (and number), if applicable
Plaque Date plaque dedicated, if applicable
Monument Date monument dedicated, if applicable
Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
Recipient of the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award
Honoree Position(s) Yankee career Number retired Plaque Monument Ref
Huggins, MillerMiller Hugginsdagger Manager 1918–1929 May 30, 1932 May 30, 1932 [12]
Gehrig, LouLou Gehrigdagger First baseman 1923–1939 July 4, 1939 (#4) July 6, 1941 July 6, 1941 [13]
Ruppert, JacobJacob Ruppertdagger Owner 1915–1939 April 19, 1940 [14]
Ruth, BabeBabe Ruthdagger Outfielder 1920–1934 June 13, 1948 (#3) April 19, 1949 April 19, 1949 [15]
Barrow, EdEd Barrowdagger General manager 1921–1946 April 15, 1954 [16]
DiMaggio, JoeJoe DiMaggiodagger Outfielder 1936–1951 April 18, 1952 (#5) June 8, 1969 April 25, 1999 [17]
Mantle, MickeyMickey Mantledagger Outfielder 1951–1968 June 8, 1969 (#7) June 8, 1969 August 25, 1996 [18]
McCarthy, JoeJoe McCarthydagger Manager 1931–1946 April 29, 1976 [19]
Stengel, CaseyCasey Stengeldagger Manager 1949–1960 August 8, 1970 (#37) July 30, 1976 [20]
Munson, ThurmanThurman Munson Catcher 1969–1979 August 2, 1979 (#15) September 20, 1980 [21]
Howard, ElstonElston Howard Catcher / Outfielder 1955–1967 July 21, 1984 (#32) July 21, 1984 [22]
Maris, RogerRoger Maris Outfielder 1960–1966 July 21, 1984 (#9) July 21, 1984 [22]
Rizzuto, PhilPhil Rizzutodagger Shortstop / Broadcaster 1941–1956, 1957–96 August 4, 1985 (#10) August 4, 1985 [23]
Martin, BillyBilly Martin Second baseman / Manager 1950–1957, 1975–1978,
1979, 1983, 1985, 1988
August 10, 1986 (#1) August 10, 1986 [24]
Gomez, LeftyLefty Gomezdagger Pitcher 1930–1942 August 1, 1987 [25]
Ford, WhiteyWhitey Forddagger Pitcher 1950–1967 April 6, 1974 (#16) August 1, 1987 [25]
Dickey, BillBill Dickeydagger Catcher 1928–1946 April 18, 1972 (#8) August 21, 1988 [26]
Berra, YogiYogi Berradagger Catcher / Outfielder 1946–1963 April 18, 1972 (#8) August 21, 1988 [26]
Reynolds, AllieAllie Reynolds Pitcher 1947–1954 August 27, 1989 [27]
Mattingly, DonDon Mattingly First baseman 1982–1995 August 31, 1997 (#23) August 31, 1997 [28]
Allen, MelMel Allendouble-dagger Broadcaster 1939–1964, 1976–1989 July 25, 1998 [29]
Sheppard, BobBob Sheppard Public address announcer 1951–2007 May 7, 2000 [30]
Jackson, ReggieReggie Jacksondagger Outfielder 1977–1981 August 14, 1993 (#44) July 6, 2002 [31]
Guidry, RonRon Guidry Pitcher 1975–1988 August 23, 2003 (#49) August 23, 2003 [32]
Ruffing, RedRed Ruffingdagger Pitcher 1930–1946 July 10, 2004 [1]
Robinson, JackieJackie Robinsondagger Second baseman April 15, 1997 (#42) April 17, 2007[note 1] [33]
Steinbrenner, GeorgeGeorge Steinbrenner Owner 1973–2010 September 20, 2010 September 20, 2010 [34]
Rivera, MarianoMariano Rivera Pitcher 1995–2013 September 22, 2013 (#42) [35]
Martinez, TinoTino Martinez First baseman 1996–2001, 2005 June 21, 2014 [36]
Gossage, GooseGoose Gossagedagger Pitcher 1978–1983, 1989 June 22, 2014 [36]
O'Neill, PaulPaul O'Neill Outfielder 1993–2001 August 9, 2014 [36]
Torre, JoeJoe Torredagger Manager 1996–2007 August 23, 2014 (#6) August 23, 2014 [36]
  1. ^ Rededicated September 22, 2013

Although the Yankees adopted uniform numbers in 1929, McCarthy never wore a number with the Yankees.[37]

Ruppert's plaque was placed on the outfield wall, to the right of the flagpole. The Lou Gehrig monument was placed to the left of the Huggins monument. Gehrig was the first Major League Baseball player to have his uniform number retired.[38] The Babe Ruth monument was placed to the right of the Huggins monument. The Ed Barrow plaque was placed on the wall, to the left of the flagpole.

The plaque in the first Monument Park in honor of Jackie Robinson.

In honor of Jackie Robinson's unique place as the first black player of the modern era, his number 42 was retired throughout baseball on April 15, 1997, the 50th anniversary of his debut with the special exemption permitting them to continue wearing the number for the remainder of their careers; the last such active player to wear number 42 was Yankee relief pitcher Mariano Rivera.[39]

The Yankees honored Rivera by retiring his uniform number on September 22, 2013, during his final season, making him the first active player to be enshrined in Monument Park.[40] Mantle wore his #7 when he coached the Yankees in 1970, even though it was retired the previous year, while Berra wore his #8 while he coached the Yankees from 1976 through 1985, though it was retired in 1972. Similarly, when Martin returned to manage the Yankees in 1988, he wore his #1, which had been retired in his honor in 1986.[37]

Other honorees

In addition to baseball related recognitions the Knights of Columbus donated plaques in honor of the Masses celebrated at Yankee Stadium by Pope Paul VI on October 4, 1965; Pope John Paul II on October 2, 1979; and Pope Benedict XVI on April 20, 2008.[41] The Yankees also dedicated a monument to the victims and rescue workers of the September 11 attacks on September 11, 2002, the first anniversary of the attacks.[42] They dedicated a plaque to Nelson Mandela on April 16, 2014, to commemorate his life and 1990 visit to Yankee Stadium.[43][44][45][1]

Photo gallery

Monument Park I
Monument Park II