Ed Barrow was the man most responsible for the success of the New York Yankees between 1921 and 1945. With Barrow as general manager, the Yankees won 14 pennants and ten World Series, sweeping five of them. He achieved his foremost success by organizing and developing their farm system. After he became club president in 1939, he and George Weiss developed the Yankees into the most consistent pennant-winning organization in major league history.
Barrow worked for two newspapers in Des Moines, IA, before moving east in 1890. He formed a partnership with baseball concessioner Harry Stevens, and they got the scoreboard and pop concessions at the Pirates’ Exposition Park. In 1894 Barrow became manager and GM at Wheeling, WV (International League). In 1895 he acquired the Paterson, NJ franchise in the Atlantic League, signed Honus Wagner, and served as president of the circuit from 1897 to 1899. He then purchased a part interest of the Toronto (International League) club, became its manager, and won a pennant in 1902. The Detroit Tigers then made him their manager, but he resigned during 1904 following a dispute with the GM. When two unsuccessful years of managing in the minors followed, Barrow left baseball.
Barrow returned in 1910 as president of the Eastern League. He was named manager of the Boston Red Sox in 1918 and immediately led them to the World Championship. That season, he acknowledged Babe Ruth‘s prowess as a hitter by increasingly working the ace pitcher into the lineup as an outfielder. The Red Sox sold Ruth to the Yankees in 1920, and at the close of the season, Barrow became the Yankee GM. In 1921-23, the Yankees won their first three pennants.
The forceful, straightforward Barrow possessed an explosive temper and once challenged Babe Ruth to a fight. He exercised strict discipline as manager and executive. In 1937 and 1941, he was named TSN Major League Executive of the Year. When the Yankees were sold to Larry McPhail, Dan Topping, and Del Webb in 1945, Barrow became chairman of the board, but he retired two years later. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Committee on Baseball Veterans in 1953, the year he died.