Liza Minnelli Gave Yankee Stadium an Ultimatum for Playing Her Version of ‘New York, New York’ After Every Yankee Loss

In 2001, Liza Minnelli proved that her music would not come second to anyone.

Since 1980, it’s been a tradition for Yankee Stadium to play Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York” every time the Yankees win. However, the stadium also had a brief tradition of playing Minnelli’s version… after the team lost.

Minnelli didn’t appreciate that at all.

Liza Minnelli performing during Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary Celebration in 2001.
Liza Minnelli | KMazur/Getty Images

‘New York, New York’ was written by John Kander and Fred Ebb

Although Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York” is the most famous, it wasn’t his. The Cabaret singer was the first person to sing its notes.

According to the New York Times, the song’s official name is “Theme from New York, New York.” It was written by one of the best songwriting partnerships, John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago), for the 1977 film New York, New York. Martin Scorsese directed while Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli starred as a married couple who are performers.

However, the film went nowhere, and so did Minnelli’s version of “New York, New York.” Then, Sinatra, who was one of Minnelli’s good friends, recorded his version in 1979. New Yorkers fell in love with the song.

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Liza Minnelli gave Yankee Stadium an ultimatum for playing her version of ‘New York, New York’ every time the Yankees lost

In 1980, Yankee Stadium began playing Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York” after wins and Minnelli’s after losses.

According to Mental Floss, Minnelli found out and was not pleased. In 2001, she gave Yankee Stadium an ultimatum: Play her version after a win, or don’t play it at all. The stadium chose to play Sinatra’s version whether the team won or lost.

However, the New York Times tells it differently. They wrote that Paul McKibbins, Kander and Ebb’s musical administrator, noticed how Yankee Stadium used Minnelli’s song. He told the Yankees’ lawyer, who realized the mistake and stopped the tradition.

The New York Times wrote, “One day, during a casual lunch, he happened to mention what he had noticed to a Yankees team lawyer. ‘The man turned white,’ McKibbins said. Very quickly, the Minnelli version was banished, and the team played only Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York,’ win or lose.”

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Minnelli sang ‘New York, New York’ at The Mets’ Shea Stadium after Sept. 11

McKibbins told the New York Times that “New York, New York” “makes significant money” for Kander and Ebb (who died in 2004). However, the song’s biggest competition is Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” which the Mets used to play after every home game.

The Mets also got something else. Minnelli performed “New York, New York” at Shea Stadium after Sept. 11, the same year she gave the Yankees her ultimatum. If singing her version for the Mets (the Yankees competitors) isn’t a big enough statement, we don’t know what is.

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