Inside Pitch

March 27, 1879: Future Hall of Famer Miller Huggins is born


MARCH 25, 2013

The Miller Huggins plaque is unveiled at Yankee Stadium on Miller Huggins Day. (NBHOF Library)

In the beginning stages of the New York Yankees franchise, the team was far from being considered baseball’s goliath. But a man nicknamed “Mighty Mite” helped turn the Yankees into the most successful organization in the sport.

One-hundred thirty-four years ago this week - on Mar. 27, 1879 - future Hall of Famer Miller James Huggins was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. One of four children, Huggins attended the University of Cincinnati graduating with a law degree he never ended up using. His love for baseball was too strong, as the former captain of the University of Cincinnati baseball team decided to pursue his passion for the sport. 

After playing a few years with semi-professional and minor league teams, Huggins was acquired by his hometown Reds in 1904. He made his MLB debut on April 15 that same year beginning a 13-year career which ended in St. Louis as a player/manager. The 5-foot-6 second baseman led the National League in walks four times and was a productive leadoff hitter throughout his career. 

As a manager, Huggins had an up and down time in St. Louis but showed he was capable of building a winning team when the Cardinals finished third in the league in 1914 - their best finish ever at the time. During his time with the Cardinals, Huggins was credited with discovering future Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, convincing owners to purchase his contract for $500. 

In 1918, American League President Ban Johnson suggested to Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert to hire Huggins to manage his struggling team. Ruppert made the right decision taking the advice as his Yankees collected six pennants in 12 seasons with Huggins as manager – including three World Series titles.  

With his law background, Huggins was able to help sign and make deals on his way to assembling some of the best teams to ever play. In 1921, “Hug” managed the Yankees to their franchise first of three consecutive American League pennants. 

All was well in the Bronx until the disappointing 1925 season where the Yankees finished seventh in the league, 28½ games back of first. With his job on the line and at a crossroads during the end of the season, Huggins decided to take authority over his star player, suspending Babe Ruth after a series of events and fining him a record $5,000. 

“We had a few battles, but there was no man I liked better in baseball. Whatever he said to me was for my own good,” said Ruth.

After overcoming his biggest dilemma in New York, Huggins and the Yanks won three more consecutive pennants starting in 1926 – including back-to-back 100-win seasons which ended in World Series sweeps. 

Huggins had the privilege of managing arguably the best team ever: The 1927 Yankees. The club of six future Hall of Fame players including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Herb Pennock racked up 110 victories on their way to winning the pennant by 19 games. 

In his 12 seasons with the Yankees, Huggins compiled a 1,067-719 record, good for a .597 winning percentage. He finished his career with 1,413 wins which is 24th all-time entering the 2013 season. 

Miller Huggins died from blood poisoning in New York City on Sept. 25, 1929 at the age of 50. After his sudden death, the Yankees dedicated the first monument of what became “Monument Park” on May 30, 1932 in his honor. 

Huggins was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964.

Nick Anapolis is the spring 2013 public relations intern at the Baseball Hall of Fame


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