The Story Behind the Yankees’ Logo6th December 2009
In today’s multi-billion dollar world of sports branding the story behind possibly its most recognizable insignia is somewhat a refreshing one. The inter-locking ‘NY’ initials are known around the globe as the famous emblem of the New York Yankees , an emblem on which they have built the true giant of international sports franchises. Although I have been a fan of the Yankkes since my first trip to New York in 1992, it was only on a tour of the famous, and soon to be demolished “House That Ruth Built” in 2007 that I discovered the history of my favourite sporting motif. Proudly displayed in the redbrick walkway of Monument Park, behind centre field, sat a commemorative plaque confirming and celebrating the famous design’s illustrious history.
The original insignia was created in 1877 by Louis B. Tiffany (Tiffany & Co.) for a medal to be awarded by the New York City Police Department to Officer John McDowell – the first NYC policeman shot in the line of duty. In 1909 the insignia was adopted by the New York Highlanders Baseball Club and appeared on their uniforms as a proud endorsement of the city and to rival the orange NY symbol used by the New York Giants and later the Mets. The New York Press began to adopt the “Yankees” nickname when covering the Highlander’s games, and in 1913 the team became officially know as the New York Yankees and the branding phenomenon was born. The NY insignia has remained to this day, gradually evolving with each passing year. I wonder if a ‘brand guidelines’ has accompanied this famous marque through the years or whether it’s evolution has been as organic as it’s inception.
Most Yankee fans, most people in fact, probably believe there is only one version of the insignia but a guidelines document would clearly show there have been numerous amendments to it’s shape and proportions – many probably only noticeable through the eyes of a designer. There are currently three versions in use today. Firstly, the cap insignia which features an inter-locking N and Y of the same scale and proportions. Secondly, the version that appears on the breast of the team’s home jersey which includes a slightly larger Y in proportion to the N and also features slightly exaggerated curves. And thirdly, the ‘print’ version which is used on all marketing material and is displayed behind the home plate at the new Yankee Stadium. In this version the N and Y characters both have slightly exaggerated serifs.
Each version of the logo stands as the same symbol of Yankee and New York pride.