As a second baseman, Huggins was considered one of the best of his time. In 1915, umpire and sportswriter, Billy Evans put Huggins among the best second basemen that had played the game to that point, along with Del Pratt, Johnny Evers, Eddie Collins and Napoleon Lajoie. Always a very heady player, Huggins was known for his speed and his ability to get on base. He came up with the Cincinnati Reds in 1904 and remained until he was traded to the St Louis Cardinals in 1910. He eventually became player/ manager and was given credit for the development of Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby.
After he was done playing, Huggins remained manager of the Cardinals through 1917. The Yankees hired him to be manager, in a situation that saw its share of oddities. First there was the divide between Yankees owners Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast Huston. Huston did not like Huggins, and instead wanted to hire Wilmer Robinson from the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ruppert was not even sold on him, he interviewed him based on a recommendation from AL President Ban Johnson. Huggins hiring led to the growing rift between Ruppert and Huston, culminating with Huston selling his shares of the team to Ruppert. Then, there was the fact that Huggins did not necessarily want the job. He did not see the Yankees in a position that was better than the Cardinals teams he managed.
Among the moves Huggins made brought the Yankees Wally Pipp, Bob Shawkey and Dutch Leonard. These moves, along with Ruppert's purchase of OF Babe Ruth from the Red Sox, put the Yankees in the position to be contenders. Prior to this, the Yankees were looked down upon as one of the worst run franchises in the young American League. These moves put the Yankees in position to win AL Pennants in 1921 and 1922, and the World Series in 1923. A major shakeup occurred during the 1925 season, as the Yankees struggled. Lou Gehrig replaced Pipp at 1B.
During a spat with Ruth in 1925, Huggins suspended him indefinitely and got the backing from his owner Ruppert. From that point forward, Ruth never challenged Huggins' authority again. The Yankees would win the AL Pennant in 1926 and the World Series in 1927 and 1928.
Huggins was honored at Yankees Stadium with the first monument of what is now Monument Park. This was in 1932, before the ones enshrined to Ruth and Gehrig. He was on the Hall of Fame ballot for 8 years in the years of 1937-1950, but never received enough votes for election. He was voted in by the Veterans Committee in 1964.
As a player, Huggins hit .265, 9, 318 in 13 MLB seasons from 1904-1916. he stole 318 bases and walked 1003 times, finishing his career with a .382 OBP. In 17 years as a manager for the Cardinals (1913-1917) and the Yankees (1918-1929), he finished with 1413-1134 record as a MLB manager with the three World Series titles and 3 additional AL Pennants with the Yankees. It is very difficult to see how the history of the New York Yankees would have turned out had it not been for Huggins, as well as Yankees owner Ruppert.