Nov 12, 1920: Baseball's 1st Commissioner
Submitted by BTGrimes on Mon, 11/12/2012 - 9:00am
Meet the new boss
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - Major League baseball owners gave in to Federal Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis on this date in 1920 and named him the game's first Commissioner.
With the public relations nightmare of the 1919 Black Sox scandal coming to light owners were pursuing a more independent 3-member commission to rule the game. A favorite of the owners to be one of the commissioners was Landis, but he would only serve if he was sole Commissioner. That's how a single baseball Commissioner came to be.
According to Leonard Koppett, author of Koppett's Concise History of Major League Baseball, Judge Landis negotiated a pretty good deal to help major league baseball "come clean." He got an annual salary of $50,000 for seven years. He would remain on the federal bench, but his $7,500 judge salary would be deducted from his baseball salary. Koppett suspects Landis was named commissioner as payback for bailing out major league baseball when he was the presiding judge over an antitrust lawsuit in 1915.
Kennesaw Mountain Landis is most remembered for banning eight members of the Chicago White Sox for life in 1921 for throwing the 1919 World Series. A jury had found the players not guilty of throwing the series - partly because confessions they made were lost - but Judge Landis didn't care about the acquittals. His view was they confessed to accepting bribes, so they were forbidden to ever play major league baseball again.
Kennesaw Mountain Landis was Commissioner for 24 years - the longest of any baseball commissioner.
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