Ed Barrow led the Boston Red Sox to a 1918 world championship triumph, but his
true calling came as business manager of the New York Yankees in 1920 -- a
position he held for the next 27 years.
From then on, Barrow was gradually drawn into a career in baseball. In 1894, he operated the concession stands at Exposition Field in Pittsburgh. The following year, he managed a minor-league team in Wheeling, West Virginia. He next purchased the Paterson, New Jersey, club of the Atlantic League.
One of his first acts as owner was to sign a rawboned youth named Honus Wagner. Midway through the 1897 season, Barrow peddled Wagner to Louisville in the National League for $2,100.
From the Atlantic League, where he also served as president for three years, Barrow moved to the position of manager and part owner of the Toronto franchise in the Eastern League. The club captured the circuit’s flag in 1902. Named manager of the Detroit Tigers, Barrow lasted just a year and one-half in the Motor City before resigning after a dispute with Frank Navin, the club’s new owner.
In 1905, while managing Indianapolis in the American Association, Barrow passed up a chance to buy Ty Cobb for $500 (he always considered it to be his greatest error in judgment).
During the early 1910s, Barrow served as president of the Eastern League. Asked to take a salary cut in 1917 owing to the lagging wartime economy, he instead quit to become the manager of the Boston Red Sox. The club promptly won the 1918 world championship, and Barrow had a large hand in converting Babe Ruth from a pitcher to an outfielder.
After the 1920 season, Barrow was appointed business manager of the Yankees, a job he held for the next 27 years. It proved to be his true calling. More than any other man, Barrow was responsible for developing the Yankees into the greatest dynasty in professional sports history. He combined a keen eye for recognizing talent with consummate front office savvy.
Among his many contributions to the Yankees regime were putting numbers on the backs of players’ uniforms, hiring George Weiss to develop a farm system, and, perhaps most significantly, selecting Joe McCarthy to manage the club in 1931. Barrow was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953.
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