George Steinbrenner, “The Boss,” purchased the ailing Yankees from CBS in 1973 and went on to become the owner with the longest tenure in Yankees history, enjoying the success of seven championships. Decades before his investment, it was another businessman who took on a shaky Yankees team, transforming them into one of the most recognized names in sports and rewarding him with seven World Series as well.
In 1915, Jacob Ruppert purchased the Yankees (known as the Highlanders prior to 1913) from original owners Frank Farrell and Bill Devery. Ruppert was the wealthy heir to the Ruppert Brewery on the Upper East Side and had served in the House of Representatives from 1899-1907 as a Democrat.
On the October episode of MetroFocus, Marty Appel, author of “Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees From Before the Babe to After the Boss,” talks about the significance of Jacob Ruppert’s ownership of the Yankees.Considered a second class team at the start of Ruppert’s tenure, the Yankees had shared the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan with the more successful New York Giants since 1913. It was under Ruppert’s leadership that the team moved to their first home in the Bronx, the original Yankee Stadium, in 1923. It was also under Ruppert that the team acquired Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox in 1920 — a move signifying the Yankees’ first step to becoming the dynasty they are today, and also marking the start of the heated rivalry between the two teams (and the beginning of the alleged “Curse of the Bambino,” marking an 86-year World Series drought for the Red Sox). Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio were among the other Yankees legends to join the team under Ruppert.
Though Steinbrenner sought and often succeeded in making the Yankees name synonymous with winning (“Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing,” he once said), it is Ruppert who put the Yankees on the map and made the country take notice. Ruppert died in 1939, the year his Yankees would go on to win their eighth World Series.
The October episode of MetroFocus, with an interview with author Marty Appel, premieres on WLIW21 on Oct. 23 at 10:30 p.m., THIRTEEN on Oct. 25 at 8:30 p.m. and NJTV on Oct. 25 at 10 p.m.