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December 10, 2012
Hall of Famer at Long Last
Lost amidst the trade rumors and free agent news coming out of last week's Winter Meetings was the announcement that Jacob Ruppert, the owner who built the Yankees into the biggest name in sports was finally selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The second generation Manhattan brewer whose family company turned out Knickerbocker beer brought Babe Ruth to New York in 1920. The home runs began flying out of the Polo Grounds, where his Yankees were still a tenant of the Giants. Facing eviction, Ruppert purchased a large parcel of land across the Harlem River and built the original Yankee Stadium, which opened in 1923. While the games have moved across the street to a new "cathedral," It remains the most impressive address in baseball. All thanks to the vision of this "Gentleman American Sportsman." His plaque at the original Stadium was on the outfield wall near the flagpole and dedicated in April 1940, the first season after his death.
With Ruppert's many accomplishments so well known, the biggest surprise might be discovering he wasn't already in the Hall. As the architect who turned the lowly Highlanders into the powerful Yankees, Ruppert should have been inducted decades ago -- many of us assumed he already had been.