Every Grand Exalted Ruler has a list of accomplishments, but only one can claim to be the father of baseball’s World Series.
August “Garry” Herrmann, the GER in 1910-11, was president of the Cincinnati Reds and served as chairman of baseball’s National Commission from 1903 to 1920.
Herrmann’s chairman role functioned much like MLB’s commissioner today. In the early 1900s, tensions were high between the established National League and upstart American League, as clubs battled over players and their salaries. The Commission was formed to operate as the major leagues’ governing body. Along with settling disputes between league presidents, Herrmann helped to make the World Series, the postseason matchup between the top team in the AL and NL, an annual event starting in 1905.
An Elk since 1887, Herrmann used his influence to get his hometown Cincinnati to host the 1904 Elks Grand Lodge Session. As GER, Herrmann encouraged Elks to become mentors to the youth, creating the Committee on the Big Brother Movement. The program connected more than 30,000 little brothers with Elks Members and was eventually folded into the Social and Community Welfare Committee.
The gregarious Herrmann was a lavish spender, known for his wardrobe that included checked suits, pinky rings, and silk undergarments. He was also called “The Walking Delicatessen” because he took sausages with him everywhere. Despite his career in baseball, Herrmann’s preferred sport was bowling. He was named president of the American Bowling Congress in 1908.
The son of German immigrants, Herrmann became a self-made man. According to the Society for American Baseball Research and Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, Herrmann worked in a type foundry as a boy to support his widowed mother. As a young man he started The Law Bulletin, the newspaper of the courts of Ohio’s Hamilton County. He then worked his way through Cincinnati’s political machine, serving as clerk of the courts, a member of the school board, and president of the water works commission. After earning
millions of dollars and developing connections with other local power players, Herrmann purchased a stake in the Reds in 1902. His club won the World Series in 1919 (a series now remembered for the Black Sox scandal), and he remained team president through 1927.
Herrmann died in 1931. He was elected to the Reds’ team hall of fame in 2008, but has fallen short of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.