2012 Veteran’s Committee Ballot: the Owners

Now that we’ve gotten that silly trivial other election out of the way, we can get on with assessing the really important election, the Veteran’s Committee Hall of Fame election in December. Four men made the Veteran’s Committee ballot as contributors to the game. Three of them were team owners.  They are (alphabetically): Samuel Breadon, Alfred Reach, and Jacob Ruppert. Here are a few comments on each.

Samuel Breadon

Sam Breadon was an automobile dealer who liked baseball. He bought a minority share in the St. Louis Cardinals in 1917 and by 1920 became principal owner. He remained owner through the 1947 season. On his watch, the Cardinals went from being a yearly second division team to a model franchise. Among other accomplishments, he moved manager Branch Rickey to the front office. Rickey devised the “farm system” for the Cardinals and Breadon immediately saw the advantage of the system. He used it, along with smart trades to make St. Louis the most successful National League franchise of the era. Prior to Breadon taking control of the Cards, they had not (in the 20th Century) won anything. By the time he sold the team they had won pennants in 1926, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1946. They won the World Series six of those years (’26, ’31, ’34, ’42, ’44, and ’46).  He died in 1949.

Al Reach

Alfred Reach was born in 1840 in London and moved to the US. He played ball for Eckfords (Brooklyn) in the early 1860s, moved to Philadelphia and played for the Athletics in the late 1860s. He played for the A’s from 1871-1875 in the National Association, helping them to a pennant in 1871. He spent most of his time as a left-handed outfielder, but as was usual for the era, played a lot of time at another position. In his case second base (making him a left-handed second baseman).  He wasn’t all that good, hitting .247 for a career with no home runs. He hit above .220 in 1871 (.353), the only time he did so (except for a three game stint in 1875). Through as a player after 1875, he stayed around baseball, becoming one of the founders of the Phillies in 1883 (with partner John Rogers). He remained president through 1899 when he sold out to Rogers. He founded a sporting goods company, which he later sold to Al Spaulding, In 1883 he began publishing (but not writing) the “Reach Guide” which became the primary baseball guide of the latter part of the 19th Century. It lasted well into the 20th Century. Copies are hard to find, but it’s a treasure trove of information on early baseball and, if you can get around the florid style of the era, a fun read. Reach died in 1928.

Jacob Ruppert

Jacob Ruppert (it’s actually Ruppert, Junior) invented the Yankees. OK, he didn’t found the team, but he took over a moderately successful New York Yankees team (they’d been the Highlanders until 1913) and began creating the greatest of all American sports dynasties. Between 1915 and his death in January 1939, the Yankees won pennants in 1921 through 1923, 1926 through 1928, 1932, and 1936 through 1938 (and would win again in 1939 with what was essentially a team he’d helped put together). They picked up seven World Championships (1923, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, and 1938). He brought Babe Ruth and Red Ruffing to the Yanks and brought  Tony Lazzeri, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Bill Dickey, among others to the Major Leagues.  After his death, the team he put together maintained its winning ways into the mid-1960s (obviously with new players).

Next time I want to look at the nominated umpire, Hank O’Day and make some general observations about the Veteran’s Committee vote.

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7 Responses to “2012 Veteran’s Committee Ballot: the Owners”

  1. sportsphd Says:

    I love pairing Ruppert and Breadon. They each own the team for similar lengths of time, 24 and 27 years, each make 9 World Series, and win 7 and 6 of them. Quite a run of success. Glad these two got passed up so that we could elect Tom Yawkey to the Hall of Fame.

  2. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    I’m for Breadon. Anyone who has the sense to hire Branch Rickey is okay with me.

    On a sort of related note (because Walter O’Malley forced Branch Rickey out of the Dodgers) let’s get Walter O’Malley OUT of the Hall of Fame. (Yes, I know you don’t take people OUT of the Hall of Fame; I’m just saying.) WHY, WHY, WHY is he in the Hall of Fame to BEGIN with??????????

    He forced Branch Rickey out of the Dodgers (he despised Rickey, and the feeling was mutual), he HATED Jackie Robinson and made Jackie’s life very rough while with the Dodgers (as if Robinson’s life wasn’t rough enough as it was), he unceremoniously traded Robinson to the New York Giants (at which point, Robinson retired, and, of course, he lied to the fans of Brooklyn and took the Dodgers to Los Angeles. How is O’Malley any better than Art Modell or Robert Irsay or other creeps that were owners. And O’Malley was the biggest creep of all. He made George Steinbrenner look like a saint.

    • W.k. kortas Says:

      Glen, I disagree with you wholeheartedly about O’Malley. The Dodgers were a bad joke before he took over, both on and off the field. As far as the Dodgers moving, you should seek out Bill James essay on that subject (in one of the older Historical Abstracts it’s entitled “Sympathy For The Devil”) which, while not exactly excusing O’Malley for the move, sheds some light on why there were certainly defensible reasons for leaving Brooklyn.

  3. W.k. kortas Says:

    I don’t know about Breadon–it seems to me that Rickey deserves the lion’s share of credit for those Cardinal teams and then some. Rickey was a genius and a visionary; I’ve never read anything about Breadon that suggested he was the same.

  4. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    W.K., answer me this: how were the Dodgers a “joke” before Walter O’Malley took over?

  5. wkkortas Says:

    Well, Glen–they certainly weren’t incredibly successful on the field; they’d won two pennants and no World Series titles before he took over, and he only became associated with the team because the bank O’ Malley worked for was running the club because it went into receivership. That’s not what you’d call a shining tradition.

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