Although the Yankees finished fifth in the American League in 1915 with a record of only 69-83, the fortunes of the team began to change when Bill Devery and Frank Farrell sold the ball club to Jacob Ruppert, Jr. and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston for $300,000. Ruppert’s sharp eye for talent and willingness to spend top dollar to acquire it enabled him to eventually turn the Yankees into a baseball dynasty. A former member of the United States Congress as a Representative from New York, Ruppert inherited his father’s brewing company shortly before he purchased the Yankees, giving him the financial wherewithal to obtain the services of many outstanding players for the team in the ensuing years. Ruppert ended up becoming sole owner of the team when he bought out Huston in 1922.
One of Ruppert’s first moves was to acquire the services of Bill Donovan to be the manager of his team. Donovan, who had helped the Detroit Tigers capture the American League pennant in 1907 by finishing the year with a record of 25-4 and a 2.19 ERA, had been out of baseball for two years and had never managed before at the major league level. Yet, the new Yankee owner considered him to be the right man for the job.
Donovan did little to reward Ruppert for the faith he placed in him during his first year as skipper, leading the Yankees to virtually the same record they compiled one year earlier. Nevertheless, the team had some good, young talent. Third baseman Fritz Maisel posted his second straight solid season, leading New York with a .281 batting average, 77 runs scored, and 51 stolen bases. Although 22-year-old rookie first baseman Wally Pipp batted just .246, he stole 18 bases and led the team with 60 runs batted in and 13 triples.
Pitchers Ray Fisher and Ray Caldwell both had very good years. Caldwell finished 19-16, with a 2.89 ERA, 31 complete games, and 305 innings pitched. Fisher compiled a record of 18-11, along with 20 complete games and a team-leading 2.11 ERA. Meanwhile, a couple of very talented youngsters graced New York’s pitching staff for the first time. The Yankees purchased 24-year-old right-hander Bob Shawkey from the Philadelphia Athletics at mid-season for $3,500. Shawkey, who won 15 games for Philadelphia the previous year, went on to win a total of 168 games for New York over the next 13 seasons, surpassing 20 victories on four separate occasions. The Yankees also purchased Dazzy Vance from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although the hard-throwing right-hander remained on New York’s roster for parts of only two seasons, he eventually went on to carve out a Hall of Fame career for himself with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Despite the presence of several young and talented players on the Yankee roster, fans still exhibited a relative lack of interest in the team, which drew a total of only 256,035 paying customers to the Polo Grounds over the course of the season.By Bob_Cohen
- Bill Devery, Bill Donovan, Bob Shawkey, Dazzy Vance, Frank Farrell, Fritz Maisel, Jacob Ruppert, New York Yankees, Polo Grounds, Ray Caldwell, Ray Fisher, Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston, Wally Pipp