b. March 27, 1880, Cincinnati, OH
d. Sept. 25, 1929
A good but not outstanding major league infielder for twelve seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, Huggins became one of baseball's finest managers. Only 5-foot-4 and 140 pounds, Huggins was a switch-hitting infielder who joined the Reds in 1904, after receiving a law degree from the University of Cincinnati.
Huggins started at second base until 1909, when he played in only 57 games. He was then traded to the Cardinals and he became the team's playing manager in 1913. He retired as a player after 16 games in 1916, replacing himself with young Rogers Hornsby.
In five seasons, Huggins guided St. Louis to two third place finishes, the best the team had done since 1876, but the franchise was sold in 1918 and he was replaced by Branch Rickey.
The New York Yankees then hired him. After finishing fourth in 1918 and third in 1919, they had a chance to acquire Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox. After Huggins met with Ruth to work out contract terms, the deal was made.
Even with Ruth, the team finished third again in 1920, but they then won three consecutive pennants and beat the New York Giants in six games in 1923 for their first World Series victory.
The Yankees slipped into second place in 1924. The following season, Ruth was badly out of shape and was doing even more carousing than usual. He didn't hit a home run until June 11. In August, Huggins suspended him indefinitely and fined him $5,000. The furious Ruth poured obscenities on his tiny manager and Huggins told him he wouldn't be reinstated until he apologized.
After nine days, Ruth apologized, paid his fine, and began playing again. The Yankees fell all the way to seventh place that season, but they came back to win consecutive pennants from 1926 through 1928 and world championships in 1927 and 1928.
A worrier, Huggins fretted about his team's performance in 1929 and began losing weight. A carbuncle developed below his right eye. It was a symptom of erysipelas. He missed several games because of illness and entered a hospital late in September after turning the team over to coach Art Fletcher. He died five days later.
As a player, Huggins batted .265, led the NL in walks four times, and was the league's best fielding second baseman in 1913 with a .977 percentage. As a manager, he had 1,413 wins and 1,134 losses, a .555 percentage.