Posts Tagged ‘Jacob Ruppert’

A Year’s End 9 Inning Celebration

December 31, 2013

So the year is ending, is it? Well, good riddance to bad rubbish. In many ways 2013 was a lousy year. The weather, the politics, the expenses, my wife broke a leg (which is now healed fine). But baseball provided some good moments. Here, in honor of nine innings and in no particular order, are some moments, both good and bad, that I remember.

1. The Dodgers made the playoffs and promptly hashed it. If you’re a Dodgers fan like me, this is a good sign.

2. The Miguel Cabrera/Mike Trout controversy stayed around. Isn’t it great that there are two players this quality in the Major Leagues today so we can debate the meaning of greatness?

3. Biogenesis. Who ever heard of them? I wish the whole PED issue would just go away, but I know it won’t.

4. Mariano Rivera did finally go away. That’s the wrong kind of going away. Never a Yankees fan, but it was a joy to watch Rivera perform. He was good, he had class, he had style. Name five other players you can say all that about.

5. The Red Sox won the World Series. OK, I’m not a BoSox fan either, but they’re a good team, a good organization, and David Ortiz is one heck of a hitter.

6. Clayton Kershaw proved why it’s now alright to mention his name in the same breath as you mention Sandy Koufax’s.

7. Albert Pujols proved mortal again. I hope it’s not the end of the line for the finest first baseman I ever saw.

8. Mike Matheny got his Cardinals to the World Series. Finally he can begin to move out from under Tony LaRussa’s shadow.

9. The Hall of Fame put in Deacon White and Jacob Ruppert, both of which I’d been pushing for, but left out everybody else except an ump and three managers. Are you kidding?

Hopefully, you have your own list of nine. These are mine. May you have a better 2014 than you had a 2013.

Three for the Hall

December 3, 2012

MLB just announced the results of the pre-integration Hall of Fame committee’s vote. Elected to the Hall of Fame were Jacob Ruppert, Hank O’Day, and Deacon White. That brings the total Hall membership to an even 300, according to the article. Ruppert was owner of the Yankees in the “Murder’s Row”, “Bronx Bombers” period and built Yankee Stadium, O’Day was an early National League umpire who is perhaps most famous for his participation in the “Merkle Game” of 1908. White was a 19th Century catcher and third baseman whose final season was 1890.

I’ve written a couple of posts on this year’s Vet’s Committee election and you can find info on all three there. If you do, you’ll understand that I am pleased by the choices. I would have chosen both Ruppert and White and mentioned that although I had no idea how to evaluate an umpire for Hall of Fame purposes, I had no problem with O’Day’s election.

According to the article Ruppert and O’Day each received 15 votes and White 12. Twelve votes were needed for election. Bill Dahlen received 10 votes and no other candidate received more than 3 votes. Congratulations to the family of each man.

2012 Veteran’s Committee Ballot: the Ump and some thoughts

November 8, 2012

This is the final set of comments on the upcoming Veteran’s Committee vote for the Hall of Fame. I want to look at the one umpire nominated, Hank O’Day, and to offer a few comments on the ballot, including my own picks.

Hank O’Day

Hank O’Day was, like many umpires, a former players. He got to the Major Leagues in 1884, playing for Toledo (the same team as Tony Mullane, another person appearing on the ballot). He was a pitcher, went 73-110, and ended his playing days in the Player’s League. He had a couple of undistinguished years in the minors, then turned to umpiring. He was considered one of the finest umpires of his day, appearing in 10 World Series: 1903, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1916, 1918, 1920, 1923, and 1926 (only Bill Klem did more–18). He’s probably most well-known today as the plate umpire in the “Merkle Game” of 1908, although he did not make the call that declared Merkle out. In 1912 he took a sabbatical from umping to manage the Cincinnati Reds. They finished fourth at 75-78. After a year back umpiring, he took over managing the Cubs in 1914. Again they finished fourth, this time at 78-76. After that he returned to umping and remained an umpire through the 1927 season. He was the second base umpire who called Bill Wambsganss’ unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series. After retirement he served as league scout for umpires, dying in 1935.

I have no idea how to assess O’Day’s qualifications for the Hall of Fame. When it comes to players, I have criteria that I consider when asking if I think a player is Hall of Fame quality. I’ll bet you do also. Yours may be different from mine, but there is a set of criteria. Same with managers, owners, executives. But exactly what criteria do you use for an umpire? Integrity? Decisiveness? Knowing the rules? All of them are important for an umpire, but any truly good umpire should have all three of them. If that’s the case, there ought to be 100 or more umps in the Hall of Fame. So how do we pick out O’Day from, for example,  Bob Emslie, the other umpire in the Merkle game, who was an umpire for 33 years and called four no hitters?

All the above should tell you that I have no inherent reason to not vote for O’Day. It’s just that I don’t have a  particular reason to do so. If he’s elected, I’m not going to be upset, but I’m also not going to say “Well, it’s about time” either.

So now a few comments on this entire ballot.

1. If I were on the Veteran’s Committee, I would vote for three people: Deacon White, Jacob Ruppert, and Samuel Breadon. White I mentioned on the post about the everyday players.

2. Why Ruppert? Well, I think Jacob Ruppert is the most overlooked person eligible for the Hall of Fame (except possibly for Marvin Miller). He is the foundation stone for the greatest of all baseball dynasties and if you’re going to put in his players and his general manager (Ed Barrow) you need to put in the man who had the intelligence to pick up all those people and weld them into a  team for the ages.

3. Why Breadon? Simply put, he’s Ruppert in the National League. As SportsPhD pointed out in a comment on the owners post, Breadon’s Cardinals were only slightly less successful than Ruppert’s Yankees over a comparable period. His players weren’t as spectacular as Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio, but they were as effective. And Musial and Dean are close to what the Yanks put on the field.

4. I have no problem if they put in Reach, but I’d rather see the other owners first. His sporting goods empire makes no impact to me on his Hall of Fame qualifications and his team is never all that good. The Reach Guide was good, but most of that was due to the editorial skills of Henry Chadwick, not Reach.

5. The pitching list is particularly interesting to me. Obviously I wouldn’t cast a vote for any of them, but they are still interesting. Much of it has to do with the following question, “Is this really the best set of pitchers left from the period before World War II that isn’t in the Hall?” If the answer to that is “yes”, then we can congratulate ourselves for having  enshrined in Cooperstown all the great pitchers of the era. Maybe we have. Or maybe we haven’t My point here is that if these are the three best pitchers still available for the Hall of Fame from the 1876-1946 era then we’ve pretty much gotten the best of the pitchers already in Cooperstown.

6. I wonder if the people putting together the ballot have a quota of some kind. Note there are 3 position players, 3 pitchers, 3 owners, and 1 umpire. Doesn’t the symmetry strike you as a bit strange? Are there really only 3 everyday players capable of making the ballot? Are there really as many as 3 owners who outshine all but 3 everyday players?

Anyway that’s my take on the 2012 Veteran’s Committee ballot. Feel free to disagree.

2012 Veteran’s Committee Ballot: the Owners

November 7, 2012

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.

2012 Veteran’s Committee Ballot

November 2, 2012

Just got a first look at the 2012 Veteran’s Committee ballot. It contains 10 names and covers the period 1876-1946. Here (alphabetically) are the names on the ballot:

1. Sam Breadon–Cardinals owner who hired Branch Rickey

2. Bill Dahlen–Deadball Era shortstop

3. Wes Ferrell–1930s AL pitcher

4. Marty Marion–1940s Cardinals shortstop and MVP

5. Tony Mullane–1880s American Association pitcher and later sports writer

6. Hank O’Day–Deadball Era umpire

7. Alfred Reach–“Reach Guide” founder and sporting goods magnate

8. Jacob Ruppert–owner of the New York Yankees 1920s and 1930s

9. Bucky Walters–1930s-40s National League pitcher who won both an MVP and 1940 World Series

10. Deacon White–19th Century bare handed catcher and third baseman.

That’s the list. Will comment on it later. Election day is 3 December.

The Colonel

March 8, 2012

Colonel Jacob Ruppert

When some talks to me about “The Colonel” I usually think of Harland Sanders first. Heck, being “Colonel Chicken” is a pretty good gig. But baseball also has it’s Colonel and he established the greatest dynasty in Major League history.

Jacob Ruppert was a second generation American born into a brewing family in New York in 1867. He spent some time in the New York National Guard, becoming an aide to the governor. That got him a promotion to Colonel and the title by which he is most commonly known. He spent time in the US Congress (1899-1907, four terms) as a Democrat Representative from New York (not all rich guys were Republicans in 1900).  He left Congress to work with his father in the brewery. Knickerbocker Beer was popular and the family made a lot of money. In 1911 Jacob Ruppert was chosen President of the United States Brewer’s Association, a job he held into 1914. In 1915 his father died and he took over the family business. A year earlier, in 1914, Jacob Ruppert bought a struggling baseball team, the New York Highlanders, and changed the face of baseball forever.

Logo allegedly based on Ruppert's stickpin

One of the first things Ruppert did was change the team nickname to “Yankees”. The famous Yankees logo showing an Uncle Sam top hat on a bat is supposed to be derived from a stickpin he wore on his lapel during World War I. The lapel is supposed to have shown an Uncle Sam top hat and the team took that and replaced the stickpin with a bat. I’ve looked at a lot of pictures of Ruppert and have to admit I can’t find a copy of the pin (maybe I’ve just overlooked it), so I can’t verify the tale, but it does make a good story.

Ed Barrow

Rupert understood that he had a potential goldmine in the American League team in New York, but he also had a team that wasn’t very good. It took a few years, but he began to create a team that could compete for the AL title on a yearly basis. One of his most important acquisitions was Ed Barrow. Barrow had been secretary and some-time manager of the Boston Red Sox in the late 19-teens. Ruppert brought him over to run the team as secretary (a position more or less equivilent to the modern general manager). It was a match that worked and the two men became the brain trust behind the Yankees pennant winning teams (certainly better than the Soggy Bottom Boys brain trust of “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?”). One of Barrow’s first suggestions was for the Yankees to purchase Babe Ruth from the Red Sox. Ruth became an instant star in New York and the Yankees started winning. Ruppert, a second generation American from Germany, had a noticable accent and generally refered to the Babe as “Root.” Actually, that’s OK. In German a “th” (as in Ruth) is frequently pronounced as a “t” so “Root” was a good pronunciation, if you were German. It did get a number of gags going in the press including one that asked if Ruth was going to hit third and Root fourth.

Through a series of good trades, timely purchases, good scouting, and sheer luck, the Yankees under Ruppert and Barrow produced great team after great team. They picked up Miller Huggins to manage the team, found a college slugger named Lou Gehrig to play first, went to San Francisco to look at a prospect named Joe DiMaggio, traded for Red Ruffing and Herb Pennock, and had a scout tell them about Bill Dickey. In each case they decided to pick up the player and the team won year after year. Between 1921 and 1938 (Ruppert died in 1939 before the season began) the Yankees won 10 pennants and 7 World Series’ and produced great player after great player. The 1927 team in frequently cited as the greatest of all Major League teams. Recent works have added the 1939 team (which was put together on Ruppert’s watch) as the greatest of all Major League teams. Pick either and the common denominators are Ruppert and Barrow.

Ruppert was not first into the farm system (Branch Rickey gets that honor), but saw immediately the promise of the system and got the Yankees into it quickly. Unfortunately, it got Ruppert into one of the great controversies of his career (letting Ruth go was the other). He bought a minor league team in Kansas City. The team came with a stadium that happened to have integrated seating. Ruppert immediately segregated the seating, moving black fans to the far reaches of the stadium. It got him into some trouble with the press, but he had the backing of the powers that be in the Majors Leagues (including Judge Landis) and survived with little problem.

Jacob Ruppert died in January 1939 in New York. One of the last people to visit him was Babe Ruth. They parted friends, despite past arguments over Ruth’s contract. Ruth always thought that Ruppert was generous with his money but stingy with praise (DiMaggio thought Ruppert was tight with a buck). He’s buried in the mausoleum pictured below.

Ruppert tomb

Occasionally I’m asked who I think is the best player currently not in the Hall of Fame (and eligible). My answer is Jeff Bagwell. But if the question is “who’s the most deserving baseball figure not currently in the Hall of Fame?” then I have a different answer. Because other executives and contributors are enshrined in Cooperstown, I pick Jacob Ruppert.

Thoughts on the Upcoming Veteran’s Committee Vote: IV

November 11, 2011

Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe as members of the Nashua Dodgers

Here’s the last installment of my look at the 2011 Veteran’s Committee ballot for the Hall of Fame. This time I want to look at the last two men on the list. They are general manager Buzzie Bavasi and owner Charlie Finley.

Bavasi was general manager for the Dodgers in their last few seasons in Brooklyn, beginning in 1951. He went with them to Los Angeles, overseeing the transition to the West Coast. He remained through 1968. From there he went to San Diego as their first GM, then finished up with the Angels in 1984. prior to taking over in Brooklyn, he worked with Brooklyn minor league teams, most importantly the Nashua, New Hampshire team that became the haven for Dodgers players brought over from the Negro Leagues. As GM he increased the number of black players on both the big league team and in the minor league system. He signed both Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, centerpieces of the Dodgers winning teams in the 1960s. On Bavasi’s watch, the Dodgers won their first four World Series championships (1955, ’59, ’63, and ’65). He set up the San Diego minor league system and later put together the first Angels teams to win division titles. He died in 2008.

Finley took over a moribund Athletics team, moved it out of Kansas City, signed a bunch of good players like Reggie Jackson, and won three consecutive World Series’ in the early 1970s. Out of perverseness, or spite, or stupidity, or miserliness, he began selling off his players for next to nothing, getting him in trouble with then-Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Kuhn ruled his actions were not “in the best interest of baseball.”  He sold the team in 1981. He brought in the A’s green and gold uniforms (some in awful combinations, other nice), he experimented with a designated runner, with colored balls. He had a mule for a team mascot. He was, in other words, an innovator, a rascal, a con man, and a genius all rolled into one. He died in 1996.

So do either of  them make my ballot? Nope. My problem with Finley is simply that I can’t see putting another owner into the Hall of Fame until Jacob Ruppert, the owner of the 1920s “Murderer’s Row” Yankees, and the 1930’s “Bronx Bombers” makes the Hall. It’s unbelievable to me he isn’t in, and until he is, I can’t endorse any other owner for the Hall (as if my endorsement makes a difference). Bavasi is a little harder to explain, especailly being a die hard Dodgers fan. To determine just how much impact a GM has on a team is difficult. So many other factors like scouting, ownership, and cash available all factor into the making of a team. A good GM has to work within that framework and no matter how good an evaluator of talent and chemistry he is, if he can’t get all three things working together, especially ownership and cash, he simply isn’t going to be successful. Until I work out in my mind exactly how it works, I will pass on GM’s for the Hall. I understand that my objections to both are personal quirks and  Idon’t expect anyone else to follow along.

Pool Shark

September 1, 2010

Johnny Kling (note the old style mitt)

From 1906 through 1908 the Chicago Cubs won the National League pennant every year. In 1910 they won it again. The loss in 1909 is attributable more to a great season by Pittsburgh than to a falling off by Chicago. But it’s also true that the Cubs lost a stalwart in 1909 and that he came back in 1910. His name was Johnny Kling, he was the catcher, and the reason for his leaving the team in 1909 is, as far as I can tell, absolutely unique.

Kling was born in Kansas City in 1875, the son of a baker. In the mid-1890s he managed and pitched for a local semi-pro team. He did well enough that the minor leagues picked him up. He bounced from one team to another and one position to another until he settled in at catcher for the Western League team in St. Joseph. The Cubs spotted him and brought him to the Major Leagues in 1900. By 1902 he was the fulltime catcher and remained so through 1908. His hitting numbers were nothing grand, but they weren’t bad either. But Kling’s specialty was catching. He is widely acknowledged as the finest defensive catcher of the period in either league. As a member of the Cubs he participated in the 116 win season of 1906 and in the subsequent loss to the White Sox in the World Series. In 1907 and 1908 the Cubs went back to the Series, winning both. He was the catcher in the famous “Merkle Game” of 1908 and the replay of that game that ultimately sent the Cubs to the World Series.

Kling was also something of a pool shark. He honed his skills in the off-season back home in Kansas City. In 1909 he won the world pocket billiards championship. He set up a pool hall in Kansas City (not River City)  and decided to quit baseball so he could tour the country as world champion giving exhibitions, playing matches, and making more money than he could make behind the plate. It lasted a year, he did pretty well financially, but lost the championship in 1910. So it was back to baseball for him.

In 1909 the Cubs lost the National League pennant for the first time in four years. Some people claimed it was because they missed Johnny Kling. I’d like to say that’s true, and it probably is to some extent. But in 1908 the Cubs went 99-55 and won the World Series. In 1909 they went 104-49 and lost the pennant to a Pittsburgh team that ran off 110 wins. In 1910 with Kling back they went 104-50 and got back to the Series. It’s true Kling hit better than Jimmy Archer, his 1909 replacement, and was a better catcher, but he wasn’t responsible for Pittsburgh winning 110 games in 1909.

Back with the Cubs, Kling had a decent 1910 (and a terrible World Series), then got off to an awful start in 1911. In June he was traded to the NL team in Boston where his numbers got a little better. In 1912 he was appointed manager at Boston. The team finished last at 52-101, 52 games out of first. Kling lost his job to George Stallings who became the “Miracle Man” of 1914. Kling was traded to Cincinnati and retired after the 1913 season. For his career he hit .271 with a .357 slugging percentage, 1149 hits, 513 RBIs, 474 runs scored in 1260 games and two rings.

After retirement, Kling went back to Kansas City and opened a restaurant called the Pennant Cafe (which had a pool room in the back, of course). He did well, made a lot of money, went into real estate and did even better.  In 1935 he bought the minor league Kansas City Blues and immediately eliminated segregated seating at the team’s home ballpark. He sold the team in 1937 for a lot of money to Colonel Jacob Ruppert of the Yankees (who reinstituted segregated seating).  Kling died in January 1947.

King is an integral member of the Cubs team that dominated the National League from 1906-1910. But he is also an excellent example of a player who is so underpaid that he is willing to leave the sport to pursue other interests that make more money. The new salary structure in baseball means we don’t see players like him very often. It’s also interesting to note that he does well after retirement. In researching for these posts, I’ve noticed that an inordinate number of catchers seem to do very well after retirement. I haven’t researched it well enough to determine if they really do better than other position players, but it looks to me is if it may be true. I’m not sure why, maybe they’re just brighter. Anyway, Kling is one of those. He’s unique in that it was his skill with a pool stick that opened up the door for his success after baseball and made it worthwhile to sit out a year.

Yawkey in, Ruppert and Kauffman Out

June 4, 2010

I truly love baseball. I think it’s a great and grand game and wouldn’t trade it for all the World Cup moments in history. But there are times I despair over the game. Some things that happen make no sense to me (maybe I’m just too dense and am missing something). Here’s an example. Why is Tom Yawkey in the Hall of Fame and Jacob Ruppert and Ewing Kauffman not?

Jacob Ruppert was born in 1867. His dad was a brewer but the son went into politics. He served for a while in the New York National Guard (hence the nickname “Colonel”) He ran as a Democrat for the US Congress from New York and served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1899 to 1907, then went into the brewing business with his dad. He rose to become President of the United States Brewers Association between 1911 and 1914. That latter year he became one of two joint owners of the New York Yankees. In 1922 he became sole owner and held the position until his death in 1939. During that period Ruppert, along with Ed Barrow (the general manager), created the Yankees Dynasty. He bought Babe Ruth, brought up Lou Gehrig, hired both Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy, signed Joe DiMaggio and Tony Lazzeri and Joe Gordon and Bill Dickey and…well, you get the idea. The team won pennants in 1921, 1923, 1926, and the World Series in 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, and in Ruppert’s death year, 1939.

Ewing Kauffman was born in 1916, fought in World War II (US Navy), then opened a pharmaceuticals business in 1950. He made a ton of money and merged his company with Merrill Dow in 1989. In the 1970s he brought baseball back to Kansas City. He founded the Royals, named in honor of the old Negro League team the Monarchs. His Royals Academy was innovative, if not overly successful, but it did get us Frank White. He brought George Brett to the big leagues, made his team relevant in a small market and won a pennant in 1980 and a World Series in 1985. The Royals also made the playoffs a slew of times. He built Royals Stadium, a truly state-of-the-art ballpark when it came on-line.  He died in 1993. The Royals were still relevant and had a winning record that season.

Tom Yawkey was born in 1903 in Detroit, adopted by an uncle and inherited a fortune when the uncle died. Yawkey attended Yale, graduated, and purchased the Boston Red Sox in 1933. He owned them until his death in 1976. During that period the Sox won three pennants (1946, 1967, and 1975) and lost all three World Series’, each in seven games. He also passed on integrating baseball when he decided the Sox couldn’t use Jackie Robinson and later couldn’t use Willie Mays. In 1980 Yawkey was elected to the Hall of Fame, becoming the first non-player, non-manager, non-general manager team owner chosen for Cooperstown.

All this brings me back to my original question: “Why is Yawkey a Hall of Famer and the other two aren’t?” Forget for a moment the racism involved in Yawkey’s refusal to integrate his team. I know nothing about Ruppert’s views on race so I don’t know how we should look at him on the issue. Maybe he felt the same way, maybe he ddn’t. And by Kauffman’s  era the idea of a lily white ball team was ludicrous whatever he thought of the possibility. Take a simple look at the three men’s record as championship owners and tell me who you like. Bet you like Ruppert a lot, right? He is arguably the most successful owner in baseball history. And Kauffman isn’t bad either. Consider how small a market Kansas City really is then consider how well the team did with Kauffman at the helm. OK, it isn’t the Yankees, but neither is anyone else. Through good ownership, wonderful hiring policies, great talent, the Royals go from neophytes to champs in less than 10 years (a little more to actually win the World Series). I figure that’s pretty good, especially when you consider what’s happened to KC since Kauffman died. And what do we get under Yawkey in 40 years? Three pennants and zero World Series victories despite having some truly great players. In some ways I think Kauffman did the best because he won with less available than Ruppert, but you can’t push aside Ruppert’s contributions.

I was unable to find the Veteran’s Committee membership list for 1980, the year Yawkey was elected. Maybe the committee was stacked with ex-Red Sox that liked and lobbied for the old man (if anyone finds the list, publish it in the comments section, please). Maybe it wasn’t, I don’t know. Although I would not have voted for Yawkey had I been on the committee, I’m not even sure it was a total mistake to elect him. What I know is a mistake is that neither Colonel Ruppert nor Ewing Kauffman have plaques alongside Yawkey’s.

Adding Managers and Contributors to the Hall of Fame

November 29, 2009

Below I’ve already made known my preference for Marvin Miller in the Hall of Fame. There are a number of others being considered on the December ballot. Some of them ought to be enshrined.

At SportsPhd there’s a good overview of the candidates, so I’ll simply add that I agree with him on managers. Tom Kelly won 2 World Series’ with teams that were underdogs and few legitimate Hall of Fame candidates. Danny Murtaugh did the same thing in the 1960s and 1970s. He had more Hall of Fame players, but he also has the advantage of leaving, seeing the team collapse, and having it revive upon his return. This at least leaves the impression he made a significant difference in the team. I think he did.

Of the contributors I like Colonel Ruppert who gave us the original Yankees dynasties, Howsam who built 2 great teams, and Ewing Kauffman of the Royals. Kauffmann? Well, at least when he was paying the checks the Royals got George Brett, Frank White, and a couple of trips to the World Series (winning in 1985). Once he left the stage, the Royals have collapsed. That ought to be worth remembering.