The Men Who Brought the Yankees to New York

New York Yankees
Oct 16, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; An view of the a field logo before game three of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankee fans may know how the team came from Baltimore in 1903, and they may know the purchase price was $18,000, but not much is known about the two men who brought American League baseball to the Big Apple. Their names were Frank Farrell and Bill Devery, and they were quite interesting characters.

Farrell was born around 1866, and was a prominent figure in the gambling community, having owned several pool halls as well as a casino. Devery, meanwhile, was born in 1854. He joined the police force in 1878. By December of 1891, he rose to the rank of captain.

In 1897 however, he was tried and convicted of corruption and was summarily kicked off the force. He appealed his conviction, where it was overturned by the state Court of Appeals. He was then reinstated on the force, where he would become the last man to hold the title of Chief of Police, as in 1901 the N.Y.P.D. would be reorganized and the top job would be called commissioner.

In January of 1902, Devery was fired by the city’s new mayor. A year later, he would join forces with the gambling mogul Farrell and purchase the American League team in Baltimore for $18,000 and move the team to New York, where they would be dubbed the Highlanders. Unfortunately, the team was not very good under their stewardship. Outside of two-second place finishes, the Highlanders never won a pennant or a World Series.

In January of 1915, Farrell and Devery sold the team to Jacob Ruppert and T.L. Huston for $460,000. Devery died in 1925 of apoplexy, while Farrell died in 1926 of a heart attack while recovering from bronchitis. Their names may be just footnotes to some, but without these two men, baseball’s most storied franchise might have had a very different history.

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