07/22/08 10:00 AM ET
Hall to honor Dreyfuss' contributions
Famed Pirates innovator to be enshrined in Cooperstown
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
He was an innovator, a pioneer, a mediator and architect at the turn of the 20th century and 30 years following.
Now, his name will no longer be lost in obscurity. On Sunday, Dreyfuss will become the 13th member of the Pirates family to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
Dreyfuss will be one of three former baseball executives, along with Walter O'Malley and Bowie Kuhn, to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. All three were elected by a newly formed Veterans Committee that, during the offseason, considered 10 former baseball executives for election.
Joining the three executives as part of the 2008 Hall of Fame class are former managers Billy Southworth and Dick Williams, both of whom were elected by a separate Veterans Committee. Right-handed closer and member of the 300-save fraternity Goose Gossage is also going to be enshrined after being elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
The Cooperstown ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday and can be seen live on MLB.com.
For Dreyfuss, national recognition is a fitting way to recognize a man whose contributions to the game have been vast and instrumental in its development.
A German-born citizen, Dreyfuss set sail for America in 1885 at the age of 19, only to later become a key player during a critical time period for professional baseball. His legacy is still undoubtedly left on the game. But even more specifically, his mark is left on the Pittsburgh franchise.
That mark is in the walls of the famous Forbes Field. And his fingerprints were over the franchise during its formative years.
"Mr. Dreyfuss was a dynamic, innovative and extraordinarily competitive owner who built the Pirates into the dominant National League club at the turn of the century," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said. "Mr. Dreyfuss began the culture of excellence in Pittsburgh that we are working hard to restore."
Dreyfuss is the first member of the Pirates family since Bill Mazeroski, in 2001, to be elected into the Hall. Among the other 12 are 11 Pirates players, as well as longtime manager Fred Clarke, who spent 15 years managing during Dreyfuss' tenure as Pittsburgh's owner.
Dreyfuss passed away in Pittsburgh in 1932 at the age of 66, serving as the team's president up until his death. He created the tradition of the World Series, became the National League's first vice president and helped direct the construction of one of baseball's storied ballparks.
Dreyfuss' most widely known association with professional baseball came from the 32 years he spent as the president and general manager of the Pirates.
He arrived in Pittsburgh after investing in the American Association's Louisville Colonels and working his way up to full ownership of the team by 1899. But with baseball enduring a period of restructuring, Dreyfuss decided to prevent the Colonels from folding by merging the club with the Pirates. Dreyfuss purchased half ownership of the Pittsburgh club in 1900 and assumed full ownership shortly there after.
After beginning his association with the Pirates, Dreyfuss ushered in a group of players that included Hall of Famer Honus Wagner, Rube Waddell and Clarke, all of whom left Louisville to join the Pirates. With a total of 14 players moving, it remains the largest transaction in Pirates history.
As an owner of the Pirates, Dreyfuss watched his club win two World Series championships (1909 and 1925), claim six pennants and finish second or higher in the National League 13 times. Though Dreyfuss and the Pirates organization endured a string of frustrating seasons from 1914-1920, he was always widely recognized as one of the best talent evaluators in the game.
He also remained a shrewd businessman, protecting his players from being claimed by expansion teams and negotiating the structure for the first modern World Series in 1903.
The Pirates lost that first World Series to the Boston Pilgrims, but the tradition became a yearly fixture from that point onward. Dreyfuss also spent the 1903 season successfully mending a growing faction between the American and National leagues, something that became one of his most pivotal accomplishments.
Dreyfuss was also instrumental in the Pirates' move from playing at Exposition Park. He enlisted the help of Andrew Carnegie to find a plot of land on which to build what became Forbes Field, the home of the Pirates from 1909-1970.
Baseball innovator Branch Rickey once called Dreyfuss "the best judge of players" that he had ever seen. John Heydler, one of the earliest presidents of the National League, told a New York Times writer that Dreyfuss "discovered more great players than any man in the game, and his advice and counsel always were sought by his associates."
Dreyfuss' significance during baseball's developmental years made him one of the most important baseball figures during his lifetime. That importance was reiterated in Dreyfuss' Times obituary, which read that he had "the distinction of being the most thoroughly schooled baseball man to be found among club owners."
He's no longer a household name because his contributions came so many generations ago. But the impressions and ideology of Dreyfuss continue to affect the game as people know it today and will now be recognized with baseball's most prestigious honor.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.