Jacob Ruppert

Jacob Ruppert Jr. (August 5, 1867 – January 13, 1939) was an American brewer, businessman, National Guard colonel and politician who served for four terms representing New York in the United States House of Representatives from 1899 to 1907. He also owned the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball from 1915 until his death in 1939.

Jacob Ruppert
Ruppert in 1923
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
March 4, 1899  March 3, 1907
Preceded byPhilip B. Low
Succeeded byFrancis Burton Harrison
Constituency15th district (1899–1903)
16th district (1903–07)
Personal details
Jacob Ruppert Jr.

(1867-08-05)August 5, 1867
New York City
DiedJanuary 13, 1939(1939-01-13) (aged 71)
New York City
Political partyDemocratic
ParentJacob Ruppert Sr. (father)
OccupationBusinessman (brewing, baseball)
Military service
Branch/serviceNew York Army National Guard
Years of service1886–95
Unit7th New York Infantry

Baseball career
Member of the National
Baseball Hall of Fame
Election methodPre-Integration Era Committee[1]

Starting out in the family brewing business, Ruppert entered the 7th Regiment of the New York National Guard in 1886 at the age of 19, eventually reaching the rank of colonel. While he was the owner of the Yankees, he purchased the contract of Babe Ruth and built Yankee Stadium, reversing the franchise's fortunes and establishing it as the premier club in the major leagues. Ruppert was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2013.[2]

Early life

Ruppert was born in New York City, the son of brewer Jacob Ruppert Sr.,[3] and his wife, Anna Ruppert (née Gillig).[4] He was the second oldest of six children.[5] His mother was also of German ethnicity, and was herself the daughter of prominent brewer George Gillig.[6] Although he was a second-generation American, to the day he died he spoke with a noticeable German accent.[7]

Ruppert grew up in the Jacob Ruppert Sr. House on Fifth Avenue. Jacob Jr. attended the Columbia Grammar School. He was accepted into Columbia College, but instead began working in the brewing business with his father in 1887. He started as a barrel washer, working 12-hour days for $10 a week ($302 in current dollar terms),[8] and eventually became vice president and general manager of the brewery.[3]

In 1886, Ruppert enlisted in the Seventh Regiment, National Guard of New York, serving in the rank of private through 1889. In 1890, he was promoted to colonel and appointed to serve on the staff of David B. Hill, the Governor of New York, serving as aide-de-camp.[3] He became a senior aide on the staff of Roswell P. Flower, Hill's successor as governor, until 1895.


Political and business career

In the 1898 elections, Ruppert was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic Party to the 56th United States Congress, defeating incumbent Philip B. Low of the Republican Party in New York's 15th congressional district. He was supported in his election by Richard Croker, the political boss of Tammany Hall.[9] Ruppert won reelection over Alderman Elias Goodman in 1900.[10][11] Ruppert was renominated for Congress, this time running in New York's 16th congressional district, in 1902.[12] Ruppert was not a candidate for reelection in 1906, and he left office in 1907.

Jacob Ruppert Brewery (top left) at the corner of Third Avenue and East 91st Street in 1896 map

Ruppert was also president of the Astoria Silk Works and the United States Brewers Association from 1911 through 1914. In January 1914, he bought J&M Haffen Brewing Company for $700,000 ($18,937,209 in current dollar terms), intending to close the brewery down and develop the property, which was located near The Hub in The Bronx.[13] Upon his father's death in 1915, Ruppert inherited the Jacob Ruppert Brewing Company and became the company's president.[3] Ruppert also owned real estate, including Pass-a-Grille Key in Florida.[14]


Ruppert (second row, second from left) with Albert Lasker and US President Warren G. Harding at Yankee Stadium in 1923

Ruppert, interested in baseball since his childhood, began to pursue ownership of a Major League Baseball team and attempted to purchase the New York Giants on numerous occasions. In 1912 he was offered an opportunity to purchase the Chicago Cubs, but decided that Chicago was too far away from New York for his tastes.[3] However, Frank J. Farrell and William S. Devery, owners of the New York Yankees, were looking to sell their franchise. Ruppert and Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston, a former United States Army engineer and colonel, purchased the Yankees from Farrell and Devery before the 1915 season for $480,000 ($12,857,368 in current dollar terms).[3] The Yankees were, at that time, a perennial also-ran in the American League (AL), posting winning records in only 4 of their 12 seasons – and only once since 1906 – since relocating to New York prior to the 1903 season from Baltimore, where the team had played as the Orioles during the AL's first two years of operation, 1901 and 1902.

After the 1917 season, Ban Johnson, president of the AL, suggested that Ruppert hire St. Louis Cardinals manager Miller Huggins to take over the same position with the Yankees. Huston, who was in Europe at the time that Ruppert was considering the appointment, disliked Huggins and wanted to hire the manager of the National League's crosstown Brooklyn Robins, Wilbert Robinson, his drinking buddy.[15] However, Ruppert interviewed Huggins on Johnson's recommendation, and agreed that Huggins would be an excellent choice.[15] Ruppert offered the job to Huggins, who accepted and signed a two-year contract.[15][16] The hiring of Huggins drove a wedge between the two co-owners that culminated in Huston selling his shares of the team to Ruppert in 1922.[17][18]

Ruppert and Huston purchased pitcher Carl Mays from the Boston Red Sox in 1918, in direct opposition of an order issued by Johnson. The matter was taken to court, where Ruppert and Huston prevailed over Johnson. The case led to the dissolution of the National Commission, which governed baseball, and helped lead to the creation of the Commissioner of Baseball.[3] Ruppert eventually organized opposition to Johnson among other AL owners.[8]

The Yankees purchased star pitcher-outfielder Babe Ruth from the Red Sox in 1919, which made the Yankees a profitable franchise.[3] The Yankees began to outdraw the Giants, with whom they shared the Polo Grounds. In 1921 the Yankees won the AL pennant for the first time, but lost to the Giants in the World Series. As a result of the Yankees' increased popularity, Charles Stoneham, owner of the Giants and the Polo Grounds, raised the rent for the 1922 season. The Yankee owners responded by purchasing land in The Bronx, across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds, from the estate of William Waldorf Astor for $675,000 ($10,927,485 in current dollar terms),[19] breaking ground on a new stadium in May 1922. That year, the Giants once again defeated the Yankees in the World Series. Yankee Stadium opened on April 18, 1923,[3] the first ballpark with three tiers of seating for fans,[20][21] and the first referred to as a "stadium".[19] Ruppert and Huston financed the project with $2.5 million of their own money ($40,472,167 in current dollar terms).[22]

In May 1922, Ruppert bought out Huston for $1.5 million ($23,856,445 in current dollar terms), and he became the sole owner.[23] The following season, the Yankees finally beat the Giants to win their first World Series title. The Yankees went on to dominate baseball throughout most of the 1920s and 1930s, winning three more pennants from 1926 through 1928, including the Murderers' Row team that won the 1927 World Series and repeated as champions the following year. They returned to the top with the 1932 World Series title, and then began their strongest period yet with the Bronx Bombers teams of the late 1930s, becoming the first team to win three consecutive World Series titles in 1936, 1937 and 1938. In 1937, the Yankees became the first team to win six World Series titles, and in 1938 they surpassed the Philadelphia Athletics to become the first team to win ten AL championships, with only the Giants winning more pennants in the 20th century.

In 1929, Ruppert added numbers to the Yankees' uniforms, which became a feature of every team. He said, "Many fans do not attend games on a regular basis and cannot easily pick out the players they have come to see."[24]

in 1931, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis allowed for the creation of farm systems directly operated by major league teams.[25] Ruppert bought the Newark Bears who played at Ruppert Stadium in Newark, New Jersey, and begin building the Yankees' farm system.[26] Ruppert's 24 years as a Yankee owner saw him build the team from near-moribund to a baseball powerhouse. His own strength as a baseball executive – including his willingness to wheel and deal – was aided by the business skills of general manager Ed Barrow and the forceful field managing of Miller Huggins, until his sudden death at age 50 late in the 1929 season, and Joe McCarthy, beginning in 1931. By the time of Ruppert's death, the team was well on its way to becoming the most successful in the history of Major League Baseball, and eventually in North American professional sports.

Ruppert and Ruth had public disagreements about Ruth's contracts.[27] Nevertheless, they were personal friends; according to Ruth, Ruppert called him "Babe" only once, and that was the night before he died. Usually, Ruppert called him "Root" (as "Ruth" sounded in his German-accented voice); he always called everyone, even close friends, by their last name. Ruth was one of the last persons to see Ruppert alive.[7]

Personal life

In 1894, Ruppert purchased South Brother Island, located in the East River, and was the last person to live on the island, leaving in 1909 when his house burned down.[28] He purchased Eagle's Rest, an estate in Garrison, New York, on January 30, 1919.[29]

Death and legacy


Ruppert suffered from phlebitis in April 1938 and was confined to his Fifth Avenue apartment for most of the year. He was too sick to follow the Yankees to the 1938 World Series, what would be their seventh world title under his stewardship; he listened on the radio. In November 1938, he checked into Lenox Hill Hospital, where he died on January 13, 1939.[7][30] He was survived by his brother George and his sister Amanda, and was interred in the family mausoleum at Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York.[25]


Ruppert's plaque in Monument Park

Ruppert's father, Jacob Sr., left behind an estate of $6,382,758 ($126,289,709 in current dollar terms) when he died in 1915,[31] which Ruppert increased to $40 million by the time of his death in 1939.[32] This was managed by his heirs.[3] His brother George, who served as the Yankees' vice president, declined to take over the team presidency, and instead recommended that general manager Ed Barrow be given control of the club. Under Barrow's leadership, the Yankees won a fourth consecutive World Series in 1939, and captured three more AL titles and two World Series from 1941 to 1943 as the nation entered World War II. After mismanaging Ruppert's brewery, the heirs sold the Yankees to Dan Topping, Del Webb and Larry MacPhail in 1945. The brewery sold its flagship beer, Knickerbocker beer, to Rheingold, and went out of business in 1965.[3]

On April 16, 1940, the Yankees dedicated a plaque in Ruppert's memory, to hang on the center field wall of Yankee Stadium, near the flagpole and the monument that had been dedicated to former manager Miller Huggins.[33] The plaque called Ruppert "Gentleman, American, sportsman, through whose vision and courage this imposing edifice, destined to become the home of champions, was erected and dedicated to the American game of baseball." The plaque now rests in Monument Park at New Yankee Stadium.[34]

An apocryphal story says that Ruppert is responsible for the Yankees' famous pinstriped uniforms; according to this account, Ruppert chose pinstripes to make the often-portly Ruth appear less obese, but the uniform was in fact introduced in 1912.[35]

A beer was named after Ruppert,[36] as were Ruppert Stadium in Newark, New Jersey. Ruppert Park in Manhattan,[37] is part of the Ruppert Yorkville Towers housing complex was built on the site the brewery in Yorkville, Manhattan.[38]

National Baseball Hall of Fame

On December 3, 2012, Ruppert was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the new Pre-Integration Era Committee, which considers candidates (managers, umpires, executives, and players) every three years that have been identified by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) appointed Historical Overview Committee from the era prior to 1947.[39] He was inducted into the Hall on July 28, 2013.[40][41] His induction speech was given by Anne Vernon, a fifth-generation descendant of Ruppert's brother George.[42]

See also


  1. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: "Hank O'Day, Jacob Ruppert, Deacon White Elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame by Pre-Integration Committee". December 3, 2012 . Retrieved June 24, 2012
  2. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: "Hank O'Day, Jacob Ruppert, Deacon White Elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame by Pre-Integration Era Committee". December 3, 2012 . Retrieved June 24, 2013
  3. Maeder, Jay (March 2, 1999). "Jacob Ruppert The Old Ball Game". Daily News. New York. p. 2. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  4. "Concerning The Ruppert Mansion & Ehret Brewery..." Forever Marxist. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  5. "Gouring — Smith. – View Article" (PDF). The New York Times. May 1, 1895. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  6. "1927 New York Yankees: The Greatest Baseball Team Ever by Harvey Frommer". Archived from the original on February 7, 2008. Retrieved July 8, 2008. "The team had a pronounced German-American flavor from its owner beer baron Jacob Ruppert to Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mark Koenig, Bob Meusel, George Pipgras, Dutch Ruether and half Germans Waite Hoyt and Earle Combs"
  7. Appel, Marty (2014). Pinstripe Empire. New York City: Bloomsbury USA. ISBN 9781608194926.
  8. Gannon, Pat (January 15, 1939). "Col. Ruppert's Typical 'Burgher'; Won Battle With Ban Johnson". The Milwaukee Journal. p. 12. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
  9. "From Tweed To Croker. Do the Changes in Men and Methods Show that Parties in Great Municipalities are Growing Better or Worse". The Deseret News. January 6, 1900. p. 24. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  10. "Senator Hanna Pleased — Comments on China News and the Anti-Imperialists. Attempt to Establish Connection Between Philippine Troubles and the Boxers He Calls Idiocy". The New York Times. August 21, 1900. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  11. "New York City — Bryan Carries It By About 28,000. Belmont Elected, Ruppert Wins: McClellan and Cummings Re-elected. Douglas Defeats Hill. Manhattan Gives Bryan Over 28,000 Plurality. Kings County for McKinley By Small Margin. Jacob Worth Defeated in Brooklyn. Van Cott-Creamer Contest New York City". The New York Times. November 7, 1900. p. 1. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  12. "Democrats For Congress — Belmonts Turned Down for Sullivan and Hearst. Goldfogle, Sulzer, McClellan, Rider, Shober, and Ruppert Named in Other Districts — Several Conventions Adjourned". The New York Times. October 3, 1902. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  13. "Col. Ruppert Buys Haffen Brewery: Sale Involving $700,000 Is One of the Largest Made in the Bronx. To Discontinue Business: Land on Which Brewery Stands Will Be Used as a Site for Modern Office Buildings" (PDF). The New York Times. January 20, 1914. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  14. Freeman, William C. (March 10, 1926). "Colonel Jacob Ruppert Authorizes Interview Which Expresses His Faith in the West Coast". The Evening Independent. St. Petersburg, Florida. p. 13. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  15. Smelser, p. 194
  16. "Miller Huggins to Pilot Yankees: Signed for Two Years to Succeed Wild Bill Donovan. Tom Connery Will Scout for Yanks. Under Huggins Cardinals Finished Third Twice in National Three Prominent Figures in Latest Major League Baseball Change". Hartford Courant. October 26, 1917. p. 14. Retrieved April 17, 2012. (subscription required)
  17. Wheeler, Lonnie (June 3, 2003). "Huggins cornerstone to Yankees". The Cincinnati Post.
  18. Koppett, p. 85
  19. Borzi, Pat. "End of a baseball era: Yankee, Shea stadiums taking their last at-bats". MinnPost. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  20. Livingstone, Seth (July 15, 2008). "For 85 years, history hit home in 'House That Ruth Built'". USA Today. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  21. "New Yankee Stadium quieter, but an instant classic — Tom Verducci — SI.com". Sports Illustrated. April 16, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  22. Sandomir, Richard (February 8, 2008). "You Can't Buy the Naming Rights, but Call It the Billion-Dollar Ballpark". The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  23. "Yankees Timeline". Major League Baseball. Retrieved June 18, 2007. May 21, 1922: Col. Ruppert buys out Col. Huston for $1.5 million.
  24. "Going by the numbers". The Washington Times. January 19, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  25. "Jacob Ruppert – Society for American Baseball Research".
  26. Mayer, Ronald A. (1994), The 1937 Newark Bears: A Baseball Legend, Rutgers University Press, ISBN 9780813521534, Jacob Ruppert, owner of the New York Yankees, purchased the team from the newspaper publisher Paul Block in 1931. Mayer traces the Bears' exciting first five seasons under Ruppert and the building of a farm system that eventually produced the great Yankee...sprinkled with some of the great names of the American pastime: Ed Barrow, Paul Kritchell, Al Mamaux, Red Rolfe, Babe Ruth, Shag Shaughnessey, Bob Shawkey, and George Weiss.
  27. "Ruppert Sets Ruth's Salary: No Compromise; Says Babe Will Sign for $70,000". The Pittsburgh Press. United Press International. March 12, 1932. p. 9. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  28. Williams, Timothy (November 20, 2007). "City Claims Final Private Island in East River". The New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2008. South Brother Island, seven acres of dense forest, bittersweet vines, flocks of wild birds and little else, is a speck in the East River — and a glimpse of what the rest of the city might have looked like thousands of years ago.
  29. "Saint Basil Academy | Saint Basil Academy: The History of the Estate". Archived from the original on January 26, 2019. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  30. "Jacob Ruppert, Famous Leader of Yanks, Dies". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. January 14, 1939. p. 1. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  31. "Jacob Ruppert Left Estate OF $6,382,758 – Held 1,000 Shares, of $100,000 Par Value, in Brewery, Appraised at $4,864,504. $72,000 Worthless Stock; Personal Property Included Many Valuable Horses at the Hudson River Farm". The New York Times. December 21, 1915. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  32. World, Times Wide (January 21, 1939). "One-third of the Ruppert Fortune Is Bequeathed to an Ex-Actress; Helen Winthrope Weyant Inherits $300,000 Besides Share in Residue—2 Nieces Get the Rest—Wealth Put at Over $40,000,000". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  33. "Yankees Will Honor Col. Jacob Ruppert". The Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. April 9, 1940. p. 13. Retrieved October 28, 2011.
  34. Sandomir, Richard (September 21, 2010). "Everyone Agrees: Steinbrenner's Plaque Is Big". The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  35. "Yankees Timeline". Major League Baseball. Retrieved June 18, 2007. April 11, 1912: Pinstripes first appear on Highlanders' uniforms, creating a look that would become the most famous uniform design in sports.
  36. Spielvogel, Carl (November 5, 1958). "Jacob Ruppert Is Coming Back". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  37. "Ruppert Park : NYC Parks". Nycgovparks.org. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  38. Gray, Christopher (March 22, 2012). "Upper East Side/Streetscapes – Empires of Rival Brewers". The New York Times.
  39. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: Eras: Pre-Integration, "Rules For Election For Managers, Umpires, Executives, And Players For Pre-Integration Era Candidates To The National Baseball Hall of Fame" "Eras: Pre-Integration | Baseball Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on April 30, 2013. Retrieved April 13, 2013. Retrieved June 24, 2013
  40. Dave Anderson (December 8, 2012). "No Longer Overlooked". The New York Times. Retrieved December 25, 2013. Ruppert's name was resurrected by the Hall's historical overview committee, and last week, its new pre-integration era committee elected him with the umpire Hank O'Day and the 19th-century catcher/infielder Deacon White. Of the 16 votes, Ruppert and O'Day each received 15; White 14. They will be inducted posthumously July 28 with those who emerge in January from the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot.
  41. Bloom, Barry M. (December 3, 2012). "Ruppert among three elected to Hall of Fame". Major League Baseball. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  42. "Anne Vernon Speech Transcript" (PDF). BaseballHall.org. Retrieved July 30, 2013.


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