Colonel Jacob Ruppert (1867-1939), brewer, sportsman, public official, and member of the National Guard, was the first co-owner of Yankee Stadium and the second co-owner of the New York Yankees. As a child, Jacob attended Columbia Grammar School. He was admitted to Columbia College in 1884, but as a third generation brewer of German descent, he chose instead to help in his family’s brewing business.
In 1867 Ruppert’s father established the Jacob Ruppert Brewing Company which was located on Third Avenue from 90th to 94th Street. In its prime, it was the eighth largest brewery in the United States. Ruppert became president of the company in 1915, upon his father’s death. In 1886 Ruppert joined the Seventh Regiment of the New York National Guard as a private. Between 1889 and 1895, Ruppert advanced quite rapidly to colonel. He served as an aide-de-camp under Governor David B. Hill and a senior aide under Governor Roswell P. Flower. In 1898 Ruppert, a Democrat, was elected to the House of Representatives to represent New York’s 15th District, which included Yorkville. He served four consecutive terms, from 1899 to 1907.
Ruppert is remembered for his role in fostering the early success of the New York Yankees. The original owners, Frank Farrell and Bill Devery, sold the team to Ruppert and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston, also a Colonel in the National Guard, for $450,000. In 1919, Ruppert and Huston bought the Astor Estate at 161st Street in the Bronx for $650,000 as the site of the new Yankee Stadium. They paid an additional $2.5 million for the construction of the stadium. The triple deck complex was dedicated on April 18, 1923. At the time, it was the finest stadium in the American League.
Ruppert was instrumental in transforming the Yankees into the most successful team in the American League. In 1920, Ruppert and Huston bought the contract of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox for a record sum of $100,000. The team, whose lineup was nicknamed Murderers’ Row because it featured formidable batters like Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Wally Pipp, Roger Peckinpaugh, Bob Meusel, and Frank Baker, won six American League pennants and three World Series titles in the 1920's under manager Miller Huggins. Ruppert became sole owner of the Yankees on May 21, 1922 by buying Huston’s share of the team. He died on January 13, 1939. The team was purchased from his estate in January 1945 by Dan Topping, Del Webb and Larry MacPhail.
The park, which is adjacent to Ruppert Towers, was built in 1979 by New York City’s Housing Preservation and Development Administration. It was transferred to Parks & Recreation on April 29, 1997. The renovation of the park was performed under a $192,000 requirements contract funded by Councilmember A. Gifford Miller. Improvements include new benches, sidewalk repairs, installation of three new planting areas and modular play equipment in summer 1997.