Jacob Ruppert Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Today, Jacob Ruppert, legendary owner of the New York Yankees and a prominent New York brewer, was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame by the Pre-Integration Era Committee. This committee considers players, owners, and umpires “whose contributions to the game were most significant from baseball origins through 1946.” For more on this click here.

I am an avid Yankee fan and I wrote about Jacob Ruppert and his role in the brewing industry in my book Brewing Battles. In honor of his election to the baseball Hall of fame I am posting an entry I did on September 22, 2008 before I had a word press blog.  (I have reformatted it to work better in the current blog). You can also read a post I did about George Steinbrenner and Jacob Rupert here,

September 22, 2008

Yesterday I gave a book talk at a really nice beer bar and restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Justin, the owner of Beer Table, used to be an importer and he has a very nice selection of regional and imported beers.

Driving home we listened to the closing ceremonies for Yankee Stadium. On April 18, 1923 Yankee Stadium opened. Jacob Ruppert, a brewer, owned the Yankees and had the stadium built. The Yankees won that first game and Babe Ruth hit a home run.

Jacob Ruppert gave many things to Yankee fans, baseball fans, and beer lovers. He played a major role in creating an iconic sports dynasty. In 1923 the country was in the fourth year of Prohibition. Jacob Ruppert and a few other brewers kept the brewing industry afloat while it was illegal. I am a devoted Yankee fan and it gave me great pleasure to be able to write about Jacob Ruppert, Babe Ruth, and beer in Brewing Battles. Jacob Ruppert was a leader in both baseball and brewing.

Jacob Ruppert Time 1932




Occupy Sandy

On Monday I was in New York City and I volunteered with Occupy Sandy. Because I am a nurse I was sent to Far Rockaway to help in a clinic that was being started at St. Gertrude’s Church. I had responded to a tweet and was told to show up at St. Jacobi’s in Sunset Park. I was then driven with two street medics, from Boston, to Far Rockaway.

Because there was not electricity in many parts of the island, there were a lot of cops directing traffic. Many roads were not passable; either because they had become dirt or because various crews were working on them. Part of the time we drove along the beach. There is no longer any boardwalk; instead there are huge piles of wood and sticks as well as equally huge piles of dirt and sand.

Along streets there were cars facing every direction, often covered with mud. I saw one car with its front end facing completing down and stuck.  As we drove along, on empty lots and parking lots there were ad hoc clothing and food drives. This was neighbors helping neighbors.

Although there were a lot of cops, I did not see any FEMA presence. I saw one Red Cross worker walking in the street. St. Gertrude’s was affected by Sandy. Parts of the building in which the relief effort is taking place were flooded and there were people working on restoring the damage. On Monday the building had not yet had full power restored.

The clinic had been started the day before and it was not really set up. Four nurses from NYU Hospital spent several hours sorting through the medical supplies that had been donated and  organized and set up a basic clinic. Volunteers at St. Gertrude’s have been going out and canvassing the neighborhood to see what inhabitants need, particularly concerning medical issues.

At about three o’clock I went with two street medics to check up on several residents in a high-rise apartment building.  We started to climb the stairs and at almost every landing someone had placed a chair. We saw a couple of elderly women siting and gathering their breath We climbed seventeen lights of stairs but the person on that floor did not answer. On the sixteenth floor a Russian speaking women said she was fine and did not need any help. On the fifteenth floor a man who appeared somewhat confused needed some psych meds refilled. I was able to get his Prozac but because Xanax is a controlled substance I couldn’t really do anything. After that we climbed back down. While we were in the lobby the repairman finally got elevators to work. Oh well it was good exercise.

The relief effort at St. Gertrude’s is part of Occupy Sandy which is a part of Occupy Wall Street. The experience I had volunteering on Monday to me reveals both good and bad aspects of the occupy movement. The relief effort at both St. Jacobi and St. Gertrude’s was very disorganized. I had received two emails from two different people. Neither was at St. Jacobi when I got there.

The street medic who took me to Far Rockaway was a volunteer from Boston. The person at St. Jacobi supposedly placing medical personnel did not really know anything about St. Gertrude’s and the clinic. I got a ride out there but was on my own to find a ride back.  This was something that was not made clear to me before I left St. Jacobi.

I think it is terrific that Occupy Wall Street has organized to try to provide relief to people who have been devastated by Sandy.  I do think the effort could use some more consistency and organization.  Both FEMA and Occupy Sandy have gotten good press. The situation on the ground is more nuanced.

Why I Don’t Care About Steve Jobs

My title is not meant to imply I am happy Steve Jobs died. It is very sad that a man who was a father and husband died prematurely. He was an important person in the history of American business. It is just that I don’t get why there has been all the fuss. The media coverage has turned him into a figure on the level of Thomas Edison.

Steve Jobs did not invent personal computers. My first computer was a Kaypro. I have never owned a Mac and I don’t like them. I hated the commercial where they implied Mac users were young, hip, and cool while the rest of us were old and stodgy.

Kaypro Computer

I have had a Nano for about six months and it is okay. It is very small but the touch screen is very hard to use so I always “shuffle” my music. This limits its versatility and puts it on par with the $10 mp3 player I previously had.

I found the media coverage, which has been extensive and pervasive, puzzling. Jobs died on Wednesday night, the same night that as many as 20,000 people were in downtown Manhattan marching against the excesses of Wall Street and capitalism. There were also demonstrations in over 160 cities the same night. Except for Keith Olbermann on CurrentTV, the main stream media did not really cover these events but focused on Jobs instead. Was the death of a CEO of a corporation more important than Occupy Wall Street? I don’t think so.

The main contribution of Apple and Steve Jobs to American society has been one of marketing. He created products that people felt they could not do without. Did that change society? Maybe. Did it change society for the better? Maybe not.


A Time To Break Silence

I have been doing research on Anne Bennett, wife of John Bennett, president of Union Theological Seminary from 1963-1970. Anne was a committed anti-Vietnam War activist. Her husband was a founding member of Clergy and Laity Concerned. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a founding member.

In 1967 he gave this speech to a meeting of the group at Riverside Church, New York City. The speech is amazing and makes me realize, once again, what a great man he was and what a loss his assassination was.

King showed tremendous courage in speaking out against the Vietnam War. I wonder where such a leader is today. We deeply need someone who can connect the issues of militarism and imperialism to issues of social justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Containing Beer

On Saturday, I had dinner at Egg, a great restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. With the meal, I ordered a Narragansett Bock, 16 oz., and my husband had a Sly Fox Pale Ale. The restaurant didn’t have any beer on tap.  The two beers came in cans which surprised me. I know that some craft brewers have been producing beer in cans and Oskar Blues Brewery only produces beer in cans and has done so since 2002. ( For an article about canned beer and session beers, another trend in craft brewing, click here.)

Narragansett is an old brewery that has been recreated as a craft beer. At one time, Narragansett, based in Rhode Island, was a top selling beer in New England. Falstaff Beer bought the company in 1966. The brewery closed in 1981. In 2005, Rhode Island investors purchased the brand.

Usually when I go out to eat, I drink whatever beer is on tap and the same is true when I go to a bar.  I probably retain the negative association of bad beer with cans. The Narragansett Bock was okay but there really wasn’t anything special about it. My husband said the same thing about the Sly Fox.

To really evaluate if drinking from a can makes a difference in taste, I would have to drink the bock from a bottle or on tap and then compare.

A few weeks before the dinner at Egg, we went to Yankee stadium to see the Yankees play the Red Sox. Our seats were not that great and far away from any food or beer. It was hot so I got a Miller Lite – only 110 calories – in a plastic bottle. Miller Lite is a terrible beer and mostly tastes cold and wet. It would be impossible for the plastic to make it worse.

It is funny that soda comes in all different containers and no one thinks that   from a can instead of a bottle makes it taste worse. The new cans that craft brewers are using are not supposed to affect the taste at all and are lighter and easier to recycle.

I still think that the association of bad, macro beer with cans will limit how many craft brewers embrace brewing in cans.


Blizzard of 2010 - The Bronx

I have been watching with some amazement how New York City is dealing – or not- with the blizzard of 2010. Where I live we had about seven inches of snow. It was all clear by the end of Monday. The roads were back to normal by Tuesday morning. Of course, the population of my town is but a fraction of New York’s.

The problems the city has behaving, however, seem to be more related to poor planning and communication rather than the size of the city or the storm. In 1969 I was in high school in New York and we had a snowstorm that closed schools for a week. Because it took  at least that  long to clean up Queens, Mayor John Lindsay’s popularity plummeted. The next year he was defeated in the Republican primary and ran on the Liberal Party line instead.

Mayor Bloomberg has already overstayed his welcome, gaining a third term through questionable means.  His failure to manage the snowstorm may mean the end of any presidential ambitions he might have.

In my capacity as a nurse, I belong to the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). As part of our training we  practice and re-practice immunization drills. As a result, last year, when we had to have multiple flu clinks to give flu shots,  all went perfectly because we had trained so much.

When the governmental response to a crisis is  poor as in the case of Hurricane Katrina and the blizzard of 2010 it indicates lack of planning and training. New York City has emergency plans; they just did not use them. This means that some people in charge failed to understand the gravity of the storm. This is another problem with emergency responses. Humans are in charge so the possibility of an error in judgment always exists.

John Lindsay

The Punch Bowl is Still The Punch Bowl

In February, I had a post about the Bronx and the neighborhood I grew up in. I mentioned The Bronx Ale House. I was under the impression that the Ale House had taken over an old Irish neighborhood bar, The Punch Bowl. Today I was actually in my old neighborhood and saw that The Punch Bowl is still there on the corner of 238th and Broadway. The Bronx Ale House is also on 238th, a couple of doors down. Now all I have to do is to go to both and see if The Punch Bowl is still the same and what kind of craft beer the Ale House has.

George Steinbrenner – Rest In Peace

Yesterday George Steinbrenner died at the age of eighty. Steinbrenner was majority owner of the Yankees for over thirty-seven years. During that time, the Yankees won eleven American League championships and seven World Series. A controversial and commanding personality, Steinbrenner was probably one of two great Yankee owners. He also contributed greatly to the growth and commercial success of baseball through his ownership of the YES cable network.

I have been a Yankee fan since the early1970s and for many of the years I disliked Steinbrenner and his antics with managers and players. However, more recently I watched “The Bronx is Burning”, the ESPN series about the Yankees during the 1977 season.  Oliver Platt’s portrayal of Steinbrenner was nuanced and empathetic. I appreciate the dedication and commitment Steinbrenner provided to making the Yankees the great team they are.

The other great Yankee owner was Jacob Ruppert. Ruppert created the Yankees through his purchase of Babe Ruth and building of Yankee Stadium. He was also a major figure in the brewing industry. Here is an excerpt from Brewing Battles about Ruppert’s death:

“On January 14, 1939, Jacob Rupert died at the age of 71. He had been sick since April, and his death was front-page news in New York. Besides Rupert’s family, Babe Ruth was the last person to see the Colonel.
When Ruth arrived at the Rupert apartment, the Colonel was in an oxygen tent, in which he had been placed at 4:30 o’clock. He was removed  from  his tent at 7:15 P.M., and the first thing he said, according to his nurse Ann McGill, was:
“I want to see the Babe.”
“Here he is, right beside you,” she said.
The dying man opened his eyes and reached out his hand to Ruth, but was
too weak to speak. Ruth patted his hand.
“Colonel,” he said, “you are going to snap out of this, and you and I are going to the opening game of the season.”
The Colonel smiled faintly but still could not talk. Ruth turned away and started to leave the room, but the Colonel summoned up his strength and called to him weakly. Ruth returned to the bedside, and the Colonel again held out his hand and murmured the one word “Babe.”
“It was the only time in his life he ever called me Babe to my face,” Ruth said after he heard the news of the Colonel’s death. “I couldn’t help crying when I went out.
(New York Times January 14, 1939)

At the time of his death Ruppert had a wealth of more than $100 million. Descended from German immigrants, he had risen to the upper echelons of New York society. Much of his fortune was in real estate. His brewery holdings included Hell Gate brewery which he had purchased from the heirs of George Ehret in1935. Under his leadership the Yankees won ten American League pennants and seven World Series. After purchasing Babe Ruth from the Red Sox for $100,000 in 1919, he made him the highest paid baseball player for many years. Prominent honorary pallbearers at the funeral included Joe McCarthy, manager of the Yankees, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, former Governor Alfred E. Smith, Senator Robert F. Wagner, Julius Leibmann, President of Leibmann Brewery, Babe Ruth,Edward J. Schmidt, Philadelphia brewer, C.D. Williams, Secretary of the USBA, Lou Gehrig, representing the Yankees, and Rudolph J. Schaefer, President of F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company.

Over 15,000 people attended the services at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Among the mourners was a delegation of beer distributors from New England. Lou Gehrig expressed his condolences as follows, “His loss is a great one. He was one of the outstanding sportsmen of the era, and a most loyal friend.” Seven months later, the talented and durable first basemen would ceasse playing, a victim of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The Iron Horse declared himself “the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”

Jacob Ruppert and Miss Harwood at Yankee Stadium, 1921
Jacob Ruppert and Miss Harwood at Yankee Stadium, 1921


Yesterday we went to the John Hancock Center and went up to the observatory on the 94th floor. You could see Chicago and beyond in all directions as well as how Lake Michigan curves and the coastline of the lake. The lake is a wonderful resource for Chicago and they seem to have known that from very early on. They did not build factories on the coast and now there are beaches along it. Although there are highways that run along the lakefront, there are various access points for non-vehicular traffic.

The observation experience at the Hancock was well done. You got a hand held device with earphones and narration for what you were seeing. Many of the views were of Navy Pier with the big Ferris wheel in the middle. It looked very inviting so we went there next.

Navy Pier is a mall, a museum, a marina and an amusement park all in one. The amusement park includes three rides; one of which is a recreation of the original Ferris wheel, built for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. I did not know until yesterday that there was an actual creator of the Ferris wheel named, – surprise, surprise – George Washington Gale Ferris. Ferris, Daniel Burnham and others wanted to build something for the Chicago World’s Fair that would rival the Eiffel Tower that had been built for the 1889 Paris Exposition.   Since the original wheel created in 1893 was demolished in 1906, the creators did not succeed. However, subsequent Ferris wheels continue to provide entertainment for countless people.

The other thing I learned at the Hancock building is that it is part of the World Federation of Great Towers. I have been in four of them, Hancock, CN Tower, Toronto, Space Needle, Seattle and the Empire State Building, New York.


Today we went to the library and then we walked to the Rockefeller Chapel, which is on the campus of the University of Chicago. The building is very large and very beautiful. When we got there, the organist was practicing for a concert tomorrow. He played beautifully so we are tempted to go back. There will also be tea and biscuits, which provides added incentive.

At 5:30, we went on a “tour” of the carillon in the bell tower. Both the carillon and the chapel were gifts of John D. Rockefeller and his son John D. Jr. The tour guides were the bell player (the fancy name is carillonist ) and her husband. It felt like it was a million steps up and across a couple of narrow catwalks. The carillon is the second largest in the world. The first, at Riverside Church in New York, was also a Rockefeller gift.

The view from the top of the tower was amazing. You could see the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. The music from the bells was very enchanting and had a unique sound. It is essentially a keyboard; she used her fists and feet.

Yesterday we went to the White Sox game. It was a lot of fun and they won. Their slogan is The Chicago White Sox: It’s Black and White. Most people at the stadium, even if they weren’t wearing White sox paraphernalia,  were wearing white and black. It’s a great color scheme. Very modern.

Cellular Field is nothing to look at from the outside. It doesn’t have the old-fashioned feeling of the new Yankee Stadium. It is more like the old Shea Stadium – mostly parking lots and no neighborhood.

Inside it was pretty nice and the crowd was very well behaved. No drunken outbursts. Of course, it is possible that the Twins are not major rivals. I’m not sure about that. The people in Chicago are really friendly and the atmosphere in the stadium was probably due to that.

To get to the stadium we took a bus and the train. That made it feel much more like we were in the city. We even got a transit card. Coming back, the train wasn’t even crowded; I think more people go back to downtown – north – than south to Hyde Park, which is what we were doing.

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