A performance-enhancing drug cloud that began forming over baseball in the 1990s and still haunted the game as recently as Monday, when Milwaukee Brewers standout Ryan Braun earned a season-ending suspension for alleged PED use, factored heavily into the BBWAA’s election shutout.
Still, the men to be honored Sunday compiled impressive resumes.
Ruppert bought the Yankees in 1915, orchestrated a deal that brought Babe Ruth to New York in 1920 and oversaw the building of Yankee Stadium, which was completed in 1923.
“A lot of us thought he was already in for all he’d done,” Hall of Famer Phil Niekro — a member of the Pre-Integration Committee — said at the time of Ruppert’s election. “We were surprised he wasn’t.”
Ruppert purchased Ruth from the Red Sox for $100,000. To that point in Ruth’s career, he’d primarily been a pitcher, compiling 80 victories for Boston from 1914-19.
The Yankees turned Ruth into a right fielder and he finished his career with a record 714 home runs — a mark that stood until Hank Aaron passed him in 1974.
“If you were looking at the top five acquisitions in baseball history, it’s near the top, if not at the top,” Idelson said of the Yankees getting Ruth. “And then turning him into a hitter after being a dominant pitcher, it boggles your mind.”
Under Ruppert, the Yankees won seven World Series. Ruppert, who served as a congressman from New York in the House of Representatives around the turn of the century, owned the Yankees until his death in 1939. He died at the age of 71.
Ruppert’s great grandniece Anne Vernon will deliver the acceptance speech.
“He died before I was born,” Vernon said of Ruppert during a conference call with reporters Monday. “We had a lot of the photos up of Babe Ruth and all the other famous players.”