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July 30, 2013

Baseball Hall doors open for White, Ruppert, O’Day

(Continued)

Cooperstown, NY —

Ruppert was born in Manhattan in 1867 and instead of college went to work for his father in the family brewing business. He also fashioned a military career, rising to the rank of colonel in the National Guard, and served four terms in Congress from 1899-1907 before becoming president of the Jacob Ruppert Brewing Co. upon the death of his father in 1915.  

Interested in baseball since he was a kid, Ruppert purchased the Yankees before the 1915 season for $480,000, then proceeded to transform what had been a perennial also-ran in the American League into a powerhouse. He hired Miller Huggins as manager, Ed Barrow as his general manager, snared Babe Ruth in a 1919 deal with the Boston Red Sox that changed the dynamics of the sport and built Yankee Stadium in 1923.

When Ruppert died in 1939, his teams had won 10 AL pennants and seven World Series in 18 seasons. 

“For my family, it’s a huge honor. I’m sure Uncle Jacob would be proud,” said Anne Vernon, a great grandniece of Ruppert. “It’s also very meaningful for my children. It has meant so much.”

O’Day was born on the rural west side of Chicago in 1859 and played ball as a kid with his older brothers. He apprenticed as a steamfitter while pitching for several local teams. He turned pro in 1884, but his arm suffered mightily in seven years of action and he retired not long after leading the New York Giants to the National League pennant in 1889 and pitching a complete game to clinch the 19th century precursor to the modern World Series. 

During his playing days, O’Day umpired occasionally and was so proficient he was hired in 1895. After working a season in the minor leagues, he joined the NL in 1897 and went on to umpire more than 4,000 games. His greatest contribution to baseball was persuading those associated with the game to treat the men in blue with dignity.

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