Ruppert, Jacob (1867–1939), known as “the colonel” for his service in the New York National Guard, was one of the Empire State’s most prominent brewers. The son of German immigrants Jacob Ruppert and Anna Gillig, Ruppert was born August 5, 1867, attended Columbia Grammar School in New York, and went to work in the small Jacob Ruppert’s family brewery in 1887. He became president of the brewery upon the death of his father just before Prohibition. The brewery’s main beers were Knickerbocker lager and Ruppert’s Pale Ale. He was elected to the U.S. Congress for four straight terms starting in 1898. He and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston purchased the New York Highlanders baseball team in 1915, later changing their name to the New York Yankees. They brought the Boston Red Sox pitcher George Herman “Babe” Ruth to New York in 1919. Ruppert also brought Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio to the Yankees. Ruppert bought out Huston in 1922, and opened Yankee Stadium in 1923. Ruppert opened a two million barrel brewery in upper Manhattan in 1913. The $30 million brewery employed 1,000 workers. In 1932 a Time magazine reporter asked Ruppert if the biggest thrill of his life was winning baseball championships. He replied, “Looking back now, I doubt if I ever felt more elated than when I was a youngster and on occasion would go galloping out driving the ambulance to bring in one of our ailing brewery wagon horses…Those brewery teams were as pretty to see operate as a nicely stepping ball team.” Ruppert died January 13, 1939. The brewery, between Second and Third avenues and East 90th and 92nd streets, closed in 1965.

Stephen Hindy