Elected as Baseball’s first commissioner on January 12, 1921, Kenesaw Mountain Landis wrote this letter less than three months into his 23-year tenure as the game’s chief. Landis mentions two of the first five men inducted into Cooperstown and Cubs legend and Hall of Famer Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown.
“Walter Johnson is one of the outstanding characters of the game. You can’t think of it without thinking of him,” Landis writes in the second paragraph. Appointed as a federal district court judge by President Teddy Roosevelt, Landis continues, “Men like he (Johnson), Mathison (sic), and Old Mordecai Brown, and a host of others, made a real contribution to our society.”
Both New York Giants great Christy Mathewson and and Brown threw their last pitches five years earlier in 1916, yet were still on the mind of Landis. Though Landis letters are plentiful due to his position as commissioner, early letters with such outstanding baseball content are quite difficult to come by.
Though Judge Landis is credited with cleaning up professional baseball after the “Black Sox” scandal, he was responsible for keeping baseball a segregated game. His denials for this are legendary, however, his decisions and deeds on the matter speak more loudly than his proclamations. Besides being a horrible Federal Judge (read about his decisions being overturned by appellate courts) he was a malevolent first Commisioner of Major League Baseball. If ever there were a case to remove a man from the Baseball HOF, it should be reserved for this man. I realize that it would be easier to move Kennesaw Mountain than it would be to remove Judge Landis from the Hall.
I agree. When you are in a position that can make a difference, such as clarifying right from wrong, you have to take a stand. You will receive negative feedback but that’s to be expected because the people of close-minded ignorance will want to be heard. They don’t know any other way but to be confrontational. (Similar to Ernest T. Bass. He chose the rock with a note through the window method. No matter how many times he was asked not to break windows, Ernest T. got results when he did.)
Maybe Landis didn’t want to be bothered with the confrontation. But with change comes the need for clarification. You have to persist.
He chose not to do anything. Integration was not necessary. The African Americans had their own league.
Integration was someone else headache.
Judge Landis didn’t see any reason to integrate. The African Americans had their own league.
He just did what he could to keep them in their league.