Miller James Huggins
Born: March 27, 1878 - Cincinnati, OH
Died: September 25, 1929 - New York, NY
Career BA: .265
Managerial Record: 1,413–1,134
Cincinnati Reds NL (March 27, 1878 - September 25, 1929)
St. Louis Cardinals NL (1910–1912; player-manager: 1913–1916; manager: 1917)
New York Yankees AL (manager: 1918–1929)
As both a slick-fielding second baseman and legendary manager, Miller “Mighty Mite” Huggins definitely left his mark on our National Pastime. The diminutive 5-foot, 6-inch Huggins was bitten by the baseball bug while attending the University of Cincinnati. Although he graduated with a law degree, Huggins never practiced law, opting for a baseball career instead. Huggins proved to be fleet-footed, stealing 324 bases over his playing career, and was adept at getting on base. The perfect lead-off hitter, Huggins led the league in walks four times. He became a steady influence at the pivot position for both his Reds and Cardinals teams.
Even though he was a skilled second baseman, Huggins found his true calling as a manager. He became player-manager of the Cards, and had some success in St. Louis but his teams never finished higher than third place. It is said that Huggins tried to buy the franchise when it was for sale in 1918, but his offer was rejected. Huggins then left the Cards, but Jake Rupert, owner of the Yankees, saw something in his management style, and the rest is history. Once in New York, Huggins took a group of undisciplined carousers and turned them into a spectacular baseball team. He systematically rebuilt the Yankees by bringing in new talent. Huggins corralled the great Babe Ruth, and recruited future stars Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Earle Combs. His 1927 “Murderer’s Row” team is considered one of the best of all time. Huggins led the Yankees to World Series wins in 1923, 1927 and 1928, and to the pennant in 1921, 1922 and 1926.
Some consider Huggins the greatest manager of all time. In any event, he is right up there with the best. Tragically, Miller Huggins died in 1929 from an infection. He had stepped down as manager of his beloved Yankees only five days earlier due to illness. Thousands of shocked and saddened fans poured into Yankee Stadium to view his casket and pay their respects. “Mighty Mite” was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964. Some say that good things come in small packages. Miller Huggins is certainly a good example of that.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html