The link between baseball and beer reaches at least as far back as the early 20th century to Jacob Rupert Jr., owner of both a brewery and the New York Yankees. Ruppert wore many other hats throughout his lifetime as well, including National Guard colonel and United States Congressman. Perhaps most relevant today, he is also the namesake of Ruppert Park, which lies on land formerly occupied by his family’s brewery.
Born in New York City in 1867, Jacob Ruppert Jr. came from a family of Bavarian descent. That very year, his father opened the Ruppert Brewing Company in Manhattan’s Yorkville neighborhood.
Jacob Ruppert Jr. left quite a mark on New York City’s history. Serving in the National Guard, he quickly rose to the rank of colonel. Upon leaving the army, Ruppert was elected to four consecutive terms as a representative for New York’s 15th congressional district.
After leaving congress in 1907, Ruppert came back to New York to help with the family business. Shortly after his father’s death, Ruppert became president of the brewery and also served as president of the United States Brewing Association.
In 1915 Ruppert and a partner purchased the New York Yankees baseball team from its original owners. He brought the team into the spotlight with the purchase of Babe Ruth’s contract from the Boston Red Sox in 1919 and built Yankee Stadium several years later. He remained president of the Yankees for 25 years until his death in 1939.
Nearly 100 years after it was founded, the Ruppert Brewery Company’s Yorkville location closed and was partially replaced with a new urban development called Ruppert Towers. In 1979, New York City’s Housing Preservation and Development Administration built Ruppert Park on the same site, next to the high rise.
In 1983 the city sold the site to a contracting firm on the condition that it would remain a park for 25 years, a period which ended in 2008. The following year, with the park threatened by the possibility of development, as well as drastic maintenance problems, the community surrounding the park came together and successfully campaigned for its preservation. Today the park is a beloved feature of Jacob Ruppert Jr.’s Upper East Side neighborhood and reminder of Yorkville’s German heritage.