Tagged: july 17

July 17 – Happy Birthday Cap Huston

hustonHis full name was Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston but his friends called him “Cap.” The nickname was a tribute to the rank he attained in the military during the Spanish American War. He served as a captain of an engineering unit that built and repaired roads and bridges in Cuba during that conflict and when the war ended, he remained in Havana as a private contractor and made a fortune building the docks and piers that formed the infrastructure of that city’s harbor.

He used a part of that fortune to go in as equal partners with Jake Ruppert in 1915 and purchase the New York Yankee franchise from Frank Farrell and William Devery, for $450,000. On the day of the deal’s closing, Ruppert arrived with his lawyer and a certified check for his half while Huston showed up with 225 one thousand dollar bills.

The two men then invested another $500,000 of their fortunes to add the personnel necessary to create the beginning of the Yankee dynasty. They had plenty of squabbles along the way. For example, Huston was against the hiring of Miller Huggins as Yankee manager. Cap’s choice was the long-time Brooklyn skipper Wilbert Robinson. Huston hated then AL President Ban Johnson and it had been Johnson who urged Ruppert to hire Huggins. As it turned out, Huston was more than satisfied with Huggins performance but he never got over Johnson’s interference in the matter. So when Boston sold New York yet another star player in pitcher Carl Mays and Johnson threatened to veto the deal, Cap Huston was ready for the ensuing fight, which the Yankees won. He also led the effort to rid the game of corruption by installing an independent commissioner, which happened in 1922 with the hiring of Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

By far, Huston’s crowning moment as Yankee co-owner was overseeing construction of Yankee Stadium. He was on the building site every day, utilizing his engineering and construction expertise to ensure the finished product was built right. But he also loved being an owner. He enjoyed traveling with the team on road trips, going to spring training, partying with his players and making friends in every American League city. But as time went on, his relationship with Ruppert began to get strained.

The two men were just too different and too used to being the boss to co-own the same business. The situation came to a head when one of the Yanks’ 1922 World Series games was called on count of darkness with the score tied in the tenth inning. Afraid that the press would accuse the Yankee and Giant owners of suspending play just so they could sell a stadium full of tickets for the extra makeup game, Commissioner Landis ordered both teams to donate their share of that game’s gate receipts to charity. Huston wanted to give the money to injured war veterans while Ruppert had other causes in mind. The fight between the two men got hot and heavy and precipitated the termination of their partnership. Ruppert ended up giving Huston $1.25 million for his share of the team in 1923.

Huston continued to attend games and stay close to the game. When he died in his office of a heart attack in 1938 at the age of 71, he had just been involved in an unsuccessful effort to purchase the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Huston shares his birthday with this long-ago Yankee prized prospect.


July 17 – Happy Birthday Deron Johnson

There were many in the Yankee organization who honestly thought this big right hand hitter would not only be the team’s third baseman of the future, they predicted he would also take over from Mickey Mantle and become New York’s biggest home run hitter. That’s how good an athlete Deron Johnson was back in the late fifties. He set all kinds of baseball and football records at San Diego High School and had scholarship offers from all the top football universities.

He chose baseball instead and signed with the Yankees. He was both an All Star and a league leader in home runs on just about every stop of his four-year climb up the Yankee farm system. But instead of replacing Gil McDougald with Johnson, New York traded for the A’s Clete Boyer to play the hot corner. The Yankees had enough home run hitters in their lineup already and Boyer’s great glove gave him the edge over the poor-fielding Johnson. Instead, the Yankees traded their top prospect to the A’s with Art Ditmar for reliever Bud Daley in 1961, after Johnson appeared in just 19 games in pinstripes. He played with eight different teams during the next 16 seasons, hitting 245 lifetime home runs along the way. He was born on July 17, 1938, in San Diego. He died of lung cancer when he was just 53 years old.

Johnson shares his birthday with this former Yankee team co-owner.

1960 21 NYY AL 6 4 4 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .750 1.250
1961 22 NYY AL 13 22 19 1 2 0 0 0 2 0 2 5 .105 .182 .105 .287
16 Yrs 1765 6619 5941 706 1447 247 33 245 923 11 585 1318 .244 .311 .420 .731
PHI (5 yrs) 563 2161 1897 213 477 82 8 88 304 4 235 468 .251 .333 .442 .775
OAK (4 yrs) 281 1043 940 109 211 27 7 34 146 1 87 205 .224 .289 .377 .665
CIN (4 yrs) 549 2142 1959 269 518 97 15 90 343 5 150 386 .264 .316 .467 .783
BOS (3 yrs) 29 82 73 5 14 1 1 1 5 0 7 17 .192 .259 .274 .533
NYY (2 yrs) 19 26 23 1 4 1 0 0 2 0 2 5 .174 .231 .217 .448
ATL (1 yr) 127 383 342 29 71 11 1 8 33 0 35 79 .208 .285 .316 .600
CHW (1 yr) 148 608 555 66 129 25 1 18 72 0 48 117 .232 .292 .378 .671
MIL (1 yr) 49 174 152 14 23 3 0 6 18 1 21 41 .151 .253 .289 .542
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/16/2013.