Jacob (Jake) Ruppert Jr. (August 5, 1867 – January 13, 1939) was an American brewer, businessman, National Guard colonel, and United States Congressman, who served for four terms in New York from 1899 to 1907. He also owned the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball from 1915 until his death in 1939.
Starting out in the family brewing business, Ruppert entered the United States National Guard in 1886 at the age of 19, eventually reaching the rank ofcolonel. 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 elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on December 3, 2012 and will be posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 28, 2013
Ruppert was born in New York City, the son of brewer Jacob Ruppert Sr. (1842–1915) and his wife, the former Anna Gillig (1842–1924). He was the second oldest of six children, along with Cornelia Ruppert-Franko (1865–1896), Anna Schalk (born 1870), Frank (born 1872), George (1875–1948) and Amanda Elizabeth "Lizzie" Ruppert-Silleck (1878–1952). His grandfather Franz (1811–1883), a brewer from Bavaria, had emigrated to the United States in 1836 or 1842. His mother was also of German ethnicity, and was herself the daughter of prominent brewer George Gillig.
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 ($256 in current dollar terms), and eventually became vice president and general manager of the brewery.
Ruppert enlisted in the Seventh Regiment, National Guard of New York, serving in the rank of private from 1886 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. He became a senior aide on the staff of Roswell P. Flower, Hill's successor as Governor, until 1895
Ruppert was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1898 as a member of the Democratic Party to the Fifty-sixth 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 byRichard Croker, the political boss of Tammany Hall. Ruppert won reelection over Alderman Elias Goodman in 1900. Ruppert was renominated for Congress, this time running in New York's 16th congressional district, in 1902. Ruppert was not a candidate for reelection in 1906, and he left office in 1907.
in 1914, 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 captain, purchased the Yankees from Farrell and Devery before the 1915 season for $480,000 ($10,893,158 in current dollar terms). The Yankees were, at that time, a perennial also-ran in the 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.
The Yankees purchased star pitcher-outfielder Babe Ruth from the Red Sox in 1919, which made the Yankees a profitable franchise. 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 Ruppert and Huston for the 1922 season. The Yankee owners responded by purchasing land in The Bronx, across theHarlem River from the Polo Grounds, from the estate of William Waldorf Astor for $675,000 ($9,258,101 in current dollar terms), 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, the first ballpark with three tiers of seating for fans, and the first referred to as a "stadium". Ruppert and Huston financed the project with $2.5 million of their own money ($34,289,264 in current dollar terms).
In 1923, Ruppert bought out Huston for $1.5 million ($20,211,914 in current dollar terms), and he became the sole owner. Later that year, the Yankees finally beat the Giants to win their firstWorld 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 which won the1927 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.
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. Nevertheless, they were personal friends; according to Ruth, Ruppert called him "Babe" only once, and that was the night before he died. Ruth was one of the last persons to see Ruppert alive.