Name: William Harridge
AL President: 1931-1959
Born: October 16, 1883
Died: April 9, 1971
Previous Occupation: Clerk
Inducted in Hall of Fame: 1972
William HarridgeAL President 1931-1959
Profile: William Harridge was born in Hyde Park, Illinois on October 16, 1883. There Will was educated and took courses at Chicago Business college in stenography. After graduating he took a job with the Wabash Railroad, and became acquainted with the American League, and its first president Ban Johnson. Harridge would schedule the teams’ routes over the railroad, and travel accommodations on the trains. Johnson was impressed with Harridge’s clerical abilities, and in 1911 hired him to fill the vacant secretarial position.
Harridge held the role of Johnson’s secretary until 1927 when Ban Johnson resigned after quarreling with team owners. Harridge would then become the League’s secretary a position he would hold until the death of AL President Ernest Barnard in 1931. With his 20-year experience in the League’s affairs Harridge was chosen as Barnard’s successor.
Harridge played a key role with NL president Ford C. Frick, and Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis in establishing the National Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Will Harridge would serve 28 years as President of the AL, the longest tenure of any League President. Harridge once stated the most difficult case he worked as 1932 incident involving New York Yankees catcher Bill Dickey. Harridge would suspend the Yankees backstop for a month, while fining him $1000 for breaking the jaw of Washington Nationals OF Carl Reynolds during a fight. Yankees owner Colonel Jacob Ruppert, accused Harridge of taking the pennant out of the Yankees hands, and said he would never speak to the AL President again. However, the Yankees would go on to win 107 games, and captured both the pennant and World Series. During his tenure the American League achieved new heights in popularity and attendance.
Harridge died on April 9, 1971 at the age of 87, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in which he helped established a year later.