Cy Young threw a no-hitter there. Ty Cobb made his famous slide into Jimmy Austin there. Walter Johnson pitched a couple of shut outs there, too. Hilltop Park wasn’t around long but hosted its share of great players and great moments. The first home of the New York Yankees (then called the Highlanders) lasted only from 1903-1912 and was torn down in 1914. Now, a one-of-a-kind photograph of the old ballyard in the one year it sat dormant is creating a buzz.
The RMY Auctions Photo of the Day is a two-piece panoramic image of Hilltop Park, formally known as American League Park. It’s the star attraction in the company’s February Auction, with bidding already over $5,000 with ten days remaining.
When pieced together, the photo measures 7 ½” x 14 ¾”. Photographer George Wheeler’s signature is in the lower left portion. Taken July 13, 1913, the photo shows advertising signs still visible on the outfield walls and a bench still sitting along the first base side.
RMY calls it “easily among the finest images of any stadium we have handled and a nearly priceless piece of Yankees history that we have never seen before.”
Hilltop Park wasn’t fancy. Built for around $6,000, the park had limited grandstand and bleacher seating but standing room admission was commonplace for big games and the 16,000 seat capacity swelled to around 25,000 at time, with patrons allowed to stand on the field in foul territory, but just steps from the batter’s box and third base bag. One can only wonder how many were injured by line drives or stepped on by players making a run at a pop up.
The Highlanders eventually moved to the Polo Grounds and by 1923 with Babe Ruth generating homers and headlines, had a palace of a park in which to play.
The photo is one of more than 500 in the online catalog, with bidding open through February 16 at RMYAuctions.com.