Thorn: Why were the 1927 Yankees called ‘Murderers’ Row’?

From SABR member John Thorn at The Diary of Myles Thomas on August 26, 2016:

Word sleuths know that the term Murderers’ Row, applied to the heart of the 1927 Yankees lineup — Combs, Ruth, Gehrig, Meusel, and Lazzeri — did not originate in the Bronx. But precisely where it did start has been something of a mystery.

Admittedly what follows is fairly nerdy stuff … but, hey, a historian’s gotta have some fun.

The usual etymology for this term is plausible — that it derives from a row of cells in New York’s prison popularly termed The Tombs, an area that was reserved for the most dastardly of criminals. This passage from Meyer Berger’s The Eight Million: Journal of a New York Correspondent (Columbia University Press, 1983), while not a contemporary description, does testify to a separate domicile for murderers.


Yet this next stray fact gleaned from Charles A. Hemstreet’s Nooks and Corners of Old New York (Scribner, 1899) may give pause: Murderers’ Row was an actual alley long before the Civil War, starting where Watts Street ended at Sullivan Street, midway along the block between Grand and Broome Streets.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: August 26, 2016. Last Updated: August 26, 2016.