Inducted – 1977
Ralph Houk was a player and manager for the New York Yankees during an era when the Yankees won eight World Series championships and dominated their sport like no other major league baseball team in history. Called the “Major” by his players, Houk managed in 3,150 major league games during his 18-year career, which included 11 years with the Yankees, five with the Detroit tigers and two with the Boston Red Sox. Houk led the Yankees to three consecutive American League pennants from 1961 to 1963, winning World Series titles in 1961 and 1962. The Lawrence native broke into professional baseball in 1939 in the Missouri–Arkansas League. He was brought up to the Yankees in 1947 as a catcher, but had the misfortune of coming up the same year as Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. Houk spent eight years as the back–up catcher for the Yankees (1947–1954) when the team won six world championships. Houk managed the Yankees’ Triple A team in Denver for three years (1955–1957) before becoming a first–base coach for the Yankees in 1958. He replaced Casey Stengel in 1961 as the team’s manager, the year Roger Maris hit 61 home runs and Mickey Mantle 54. Called “rough, blunt and decisive”, Houk received total respect and admiration from his players, who always said they fought to win “for Ralph.” Houk managed the Yankees from 1961–63 and 1966–73, the Tigers from 1974–78 and Red Sox from 1981–82. Born August 9, 1919 – Lawrence, Kansas. Graduated Lawrence (KS) H.S., 1938.