- Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
- City: Boston
- Team: Red Stockings (NAPBBP)
- League: National Association (NABBP)
Ivers Whitney Adams (1838-1914) was a young and ambitious visionary when he first laid eyes on Harry Wright’s new invention: professional baseball. The Cincinnati Red Stockings came to town to trounce the local Lowell lads in a June exhibition on the Boston Commons June 10, 1869. Adams was intrigued and pursued a notion for transforming Boston into a leading post-war metropolis with baseball as an engine of growth. By January 1871, the plans were laid, the Wright brothers were brought on board and the most enduring franchise in professional sports was established -- then the Boston Baseball Association, now the Atlanta Braves.
Ivers was already well on his way to wealth and fame as a patron of Boston’s industrial and social scene. His love of outdoor sports and camaraderie with his up-and-coming peers fit perfectly with the new game about to sweep America. He procured the incorporation, acquired a playing field, set the ticket prices (at Harry Wright’s urging: double the usual fee), and marketed them through George Wright’s sporting-goods emporium. Thus was baseball born in Beantown.
- Adams had vowed to friends that, if he couldn’t recruit the Wrights, he’d abandon the effort to bring the game to Boston. He only wanted the very best.
- Series: Diamond Heads '15
- City: Darby
- Team: Hilldale Athletic Club
- League: Independent
Edward Bolden (1881-1950) was one of the most successful entrepreneurs in black baseball in the early 20th century. Though it sounds dissonant to the contemporary ear, Bolden proudly declared himself a “race man” and boldly promoted his club as one owned and operated by other race men. This was in opposition to overtures and intimidations of white impresarios seeking to horn in on the growing popularity of negro ball in the 1920s. Bolden was always a keen recruiter of talent and his reputation for black-ownership attracted some of the best to his teams including Louis Santop, Smoky Joe Williams and Dick Lundy. Ed cut his showman's teeth with the Hilldale Club of Darby PA, bringing solid management and a zeal for rectitude on and off the field. He banned alcohol and demanded decorum from his players. He even enforced discipline among the fans and brought in security when needed. Conflicts with Rube Foster over accusations of poaching by Bolden, coupled with high operating costs especially for travel, led Bolden to leave the Negro National League for the Eastern Colored League in 1922. The two superstars of black league management faced off in the first Colored World Series in 1924 with Foster's KC Monarchs triumphant. Bolden's squad got revenge the following year.
- Black teams always ran on a shoestring and as the economy worsened in the late '20s and plunged in the Depression, Bolden left the game temporarily.
- He returned to lead clubs through the war years and the cusp of integrated ball he earnestly desired to see. He was the last of the breed of early black ownership upon his death in 1950
- Series: Beginnings: 1880's
- City: St. Louis
- Team: Browns (AA)
- League: American Association
Christian Friedrich Wilhelm von der Ahe (1851-1913) put the beer in the “beer and whiskey league” as the American Association came to be known, perjoratively by National League purists and proudly by the upstart organization’s devotees. Von der Ahe had emigrated from Germany, bringing a zeal for making it big in the New World. His saloon in St. Louis hosted so many baseball fans that Chris decided to buy the bankrupt Brown Stockings. Perhaps recognizing his ignorance of the game, Chris had the sense to hire Charles Comiskey to play and eventually manage the club which went on to a string of pennants from 1885-88. The boss’s meddling hurt (Comiskey left) but his showmanship helped as a carnival atmosphere brought in the “fans” (possibly coined by von der Ahe.) The big, bluff German was always a center of controversy and drama. He lost the team in ‘98 after a ballpark fire following an earlier fire sale of the players to Brooklyn. After a year as the Perfectos, the team would ever after be known as the Cardinals.
- Von der Ahe was the first to promote baseball to the great unwashed of his adopted country’s midsection, the blue-collar heartland of the game
- While von der Ahe does have one pose in the Old Judge series, this image was taken from a Guerin Studio cabinet photo
- Series: Diamond Heads '15
- City: New York
- Team: Yankees
- League: American League
- Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame
Jacob Ruppert Jr. (1867-1939) became the 304th inductee into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2013, remedying an oversight many assumed had already been handled. This beer & real estate baron, National Guard Colonel & US Congressman took a second-rate NY franchise, hired Miller Huggins to manage it, saw that the mighty southpaw up in Boston had more potential at the plate than on the mound, built Yankee Stadium and tailored it to Ruth’s swing, hired the likes of Gehrig, DiMaggio and a clutch of other future Hall of Famers, and won the franchise’s first 10 pennants & 7 World Series titles. In all, Ruppert created the most storied sports organization in history and forever changed the game as the Dead Ball gave way to the Lively Ball. He died five months before there was a Hall in Cooperstown and now, just 74 years later, he’s in it.
- Was instrumental in creating the office of Commissioner and hiring Landis as czar in 1920
- Initially fought to rename the Yankees as theKnickerbockers after his family’s flagship brew
- Elected to Hall of Fame: 2013
- Series: Diamond Heads '15
- City: Brooklyn
- Team: Robins
- League: National League
Charles Hercules Ebbets, Sr (1859-1925) started work for the new Brooklyn baseball team in 1883 and did just about every job possible before taking over operations in ’98. He became president of the Bridegrooms and was even the field manager that year. A tenth-place finish (out of 12 NL teams) ushered Ebbets out of the dugout and into the executive suite. A lifelong love of the game had drawn this architect/businessman/politician to the most menial of tasks for the franchise, working his way to the top upon the death of Charles Byrne. Twice he risked personal bankruptcy: in 1902 to keep the team in Brooklyn and later to buy the land and build the club’s new park. When the modest Ebbets suggested “Washington Park” as the name of the stadium, a Brooklyn Times reporter admonished him “Why don’t you call it Ebbets Field? It was your idea and nobody else’s, and you’ve put yourself in hock to build it.”
- The park he built would become the site of some of the most zany and beloved moments in all of sport