Wednesday, August 02, 2006

...and THAT'S the old ball game

Looking up random sports quotes a la Coglero. I came across a little nugget from Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Landis was the first commisioner of Major League Baseball. He ruled from 1920 until his death in 1944.

His most famous act as commisioner was ruling on the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. He banished eight players from the 1919 Chicago White Sox (including Shoeless Joe Jackson) for consorting with gamblers and throwing that year's World Series for monetary gain.

However, he should also be well known for helping perpetuate the color lines in baseball that prevented blacks from playing. Here's the quote:

"There is no rule, formal or informal, or any understanding -- unwritten, subterranean or sub-anything -- against the hiring of Negro players by the teams of organized baseball.'' He added, "Negroes are not barred from organized baseball ... and never have been in the 21 years I have served.''

Whether he actually believed that or not, the fact is, no black player played in the Majors from the late 1880s until 1947, three years after Landis' death.

Top 5 Negro League Players who never got to play in the Majors during their prime.
1. Josh Gibson.
2. Satchel Paige
3. Buck Leonard
4. Cool Papa Bell
5. Oscar Charleston

In 1943, Landis also prevented Bill Veeck from purchasing the Philadelphia Phillies as the rumour was that he was going to stock his team with players from the negro leagues. Instead, Landis allowed the team to be sold to William Cox who was later banned for life for betting on baseball.

It's just funny how it all came full circle regarding gambling, baseball and Kenesaw Mountain Landis.



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