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 Ralph George “Major” Houk

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Ralph George “Major” Houk

  • Birth 9 Aug 1919 Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, USA
  • Death 21 Jul 2010 Winter Haven, Polk County, Florida, USA
  • Burial Winter Haven, Polk County, Florida, USA
  • Memorial ID 55259772

Major League Baseball Player, Manager. Raised in Lawrence, Kansas, where he was a gifted athlete during his high school years, Houk was signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1939. During World War II he served with the US Army Rangers and saw action in the 1944 Normandy Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge, earning a Silver Star; this led to his being nicknamed "Major" during his baseball career. Houk broke into the Major Leagues on April 26, 1947, and appeared in 41 games, recording 25 hits with a .272 batting average that season. For the next eight years (1947 to 1954), he played at the catcher position with the New York Yankees, and spent his entire career serving as a backup to Yogi Berra. He appeared in 91 career regular season games, recording 43 hits with a lifetime .272 batting average. Houk participated in two World Series contests (1947 and 1952), recording 1 hit in 2 at bats. Following his playing career, he served as a Minor League manager with the Yankees' affiliate squad the Denver Bears for three seasons (1955 to 1957), before returning to the Yankees' big league club, serving on their coaching staff from 1958 to 1960. He succeeded the popular Casey Stengel as manager of the Yankees after the 1960 season. The attention led to an appearance as the mystery guest on an episode of the TV program "What's My Line?" He guided the Yankees to two consecutive World Championship titles (1961 and 1962), including a 109 victory regular season in 1961, earning him The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award. Among highlights of the period included Roger Maris' historic season of 61 home runs in 1961, and Mickey Mantle's contribution of 54 that same year. After capturing their third consecutive AL Pennant under Houk (which resulted in a World Series defeat to the Dodgers in 1963), he was promoted to general manager and served at that capacity until 1966, before returning for a second time as skipper from 1966 to 1973. He served stints as manager of the Detroit Tigers (1974 to 1978), and Boston Red Sox from 1981 to 1984. He was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1977. He compiled a 1,619 win, 1,531 loss career regular season managerial record. He died from natural causes at age 90.

Bio by: C.S.

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: C.S.
  • Added: 21 Jul 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 55259772
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Ralph George “Major” Houk (9 Aug 1919–21 Jul 2010), Find A Grave Memorial no. 55259772, citing Rolling Hills Cemetery, Winter Haven, Polk County, Florida, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .