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  • Formation of the American League

    sorry if some of this is out of context but it was from another thread:

    boston was actually one of the last cities secured for the american league season in 1901 - it wasn't officially announced as such until 1/23/1901 - the al played in chicago in 1900 when it was still a minor league - there was a lot that happened in between

    when exactly the war (or whatever you want to call it) started is a matter of perspective i guess but i would say it started at some point in 1900 though johnson never officially declared the al a major league until 1/29/1901 while handing out the official schedule and formally adopting many union provisions and their universal player contract

    even though johnson had declined to re-sign the national agreement in january 1900, the al did not tamper with any nl contract (that we know of) until 1901

    throughout this time the union was also organizing - but were repeatedly denied and audience with the owners until 12/12/1900 - but the owners were really just humoring the players - they had no intention of granting them anything - that night frank selee of the boston braves fired off a telegram to dick padden (comiskey's second baseman) offering him a spot on the braves

    the next day the nl owners officially rejected all demands and set out to destroy the union and bend the players - they cut roster sizes and decreased the salary ceiling from $2400 to $2000 - they also took measures to destroy the al - enticing lousiville away from the al and offering ballparks and financial backing to a contingent trying to revive the old american association

    though:
    1) some pirates broke with the union and signed with barney dreyfuss
    2) the union leader came to terms with the nl on 2/27/1901

    it was too late - the al was in full charge - the union vp was signing as many men for the al as possible - he eventually gained official permission for union men to sign with al teams from the union's legal representative on 2/28/1901

    i don't think the climax of the battle was mcgraw's insurrection - to me the climax is that the al withstood mcgraw's treason and prospered by placing the baltimore club in new york
    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 02-24-2006, 01:21 PM.

  • #2
    Johnson declared his intention to become a major league at various times in 1900 but that is far cry from officially doing so after:

    1) finding the proper financial backers in all cities
    2) settling on which cities you were going to play in
    3) finding ballpark sites and setting out to build them
    4) courting the union and feeling secure that you could gain the proper talent

    johnson did not have those four secure until january 1901 - there were many others who declared their intention but never followed through - until he could do the above there really wasn't any reason too much "pay attention" to his pronouncements

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by bkmckenna
      entative on 2/28/1901

      i don't think the climax of the battle was mcgraw's insurrection - to me the climax is that the al withstood mcgraw's treason and prospered by placing the baltimore club in new york
      I find the formation of the AL a most interesting subject.

      I have great respect for Ban Johnson is being able to pull this whole thing off. He first got the proper owners with a solid financial foundation in place. In fact, he 'dumped' some owners replacing them with people that were more secure financially. He formed a strong bound with owners such as Commiskey who were more progressive..and more aggressive than their NL counterparts.
      Ban Johnson made good business decision after good business decesion.

      Once he had this 'foundation' in place he was ready to move. Your comments on the union are particularly interesting. Johnson was smart enough to recognize what the union could do for him. I always had the impression he was 'using' the union to further his own agenda of solidifyng the league, preparing for the raids on the NL.

      His original intent was to sign 100 NL players that he had listed. It was pretty much a 'go get'em' type order.

      He was helped immensely by the sheer stupidity and egotism of the NL owners, with the exception of Barney Dreyfuss who foresaw what was coming. The NL owners were flush from their earlier victory in vanquishing the Players Union league. They felt, wrongly as it turned out, they could beat back this attempt as well. But they grossly underestimated Ban Johnson.
      Coupled with their ham-handedness in defining players salaries by scale plus their inability to define a league structure adequately.

      While the McGraw defection could have damaged the AL severely, by making the Baltimore club nearly worthless on the field of play as well as losing a marquee name. Johnson turned it around by moving the team to New York. Johnson knew from the get go that he had to have a team in New York to be considered a legitimate 'major' league. He got a team in New York despite having to 'accept' two rather shady characters as the owners. he bided his time until he could get solid ownership for the Highlanders.

      I actually think this was the 'key' to the success of the formation of the AL. However, what I think really solidified the AL was the courts decision to not overturn all the AL raidings of NL players. True, Lajoie, for example, was pretty much prevented from playing in Philly after the A's raided him from the Phillies, BUT they did NOT rule that he had to return to the Phillies. Nor did the courts rule other players being raided had to return to their NL team. This gave Johnson and his fellow owners (I say 'fellow' owners because Johnson had a stake in the Cleveland AL club) a feeling of confidence that they could raid at will.

      Barney Dreyfuss reacted quickly to what was happening by signing his *stars* to larger contracts than what was outlined by the NL agreement among owners. He broke with his fellow NL owners. The other owners could not understand what was going on until way too late. After they did they felt they would be upheld by a court of law. They were mighty surprised when this didn't happen.
      When Johnson learned what Dreyfuss was up to, he again made a good business decision to leave Pittsburgh alone and upset the balance of power in the NL. This would result in the Pirates being the most powerful team by far and robbing the NL of any semblance of a pennent race.

      Ban Johnson didn't want to destroy the NL...he simply wanted to be accepted as major league. What he wound up with was league that was infinitely stronger by the time a thourouly beaten NL agreed to terms

      Yankees Fan Since 1957

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by bkmckenna
        Johnson declared his intention to become a major league at various times in 1900 but that is far cry from officially doing so after:

        1) finding the proper financial backers in all cities
        2) settling on which cities you were going to play in
        3) finding ballpark sites and setting out to build them
        4) courting the union and feeling secure that you could gain the proper talent

        johnson did not have those four secure until january 1901 - there were many others who declared their intention but never followed through - until he could do the above there really wasn't any reason too much "pay attention" to his pronouncements
        I agree with all your statements. Johnson should be given credit for not rushing full tilt into this effort, giving time to build a strong foundation, developing a workable plan, a willingness to adapt the plan to eventualities, and forging strong business relationships with his financial ownerships. His idea of creating a league of less rowdyism which would appeal to a whole as yet untapped populace was farsighted.

        Ban Johnson had plenty of help but it was he himself that made the formation of the AL a rousing success.

        Yankees Fan Since 1957

        Comment


        • #5
          i agree with your comments about johnson but he would have been on very shaky ground without charles somers' money - somers' bailed out or outright carried many teams for years

          the union's biggest voice was clark griffith who was stationed in chicago where johnson and comiskey just happened to be - those three became good friend hunting at grif's ranch, bowling and otherwise spending a lot of time together - johnson may have used the union but it ran both ways - a marriage of convenience - the union virtually disbanded in feb 1901 because the players didn't need it anymore - they were selling themselves to the highest bidder

          an interesting point of the union was that the president chief zimmer kept negotiating with the nl and the nl caved on feb 27, 1901 but the union vp griffith had virtually abandoned the union and was signing men for the al (which is the real reason they caved) - zimmer was shocked after he thought he did a great job negotiating with the nl and many players could care less - they hopped with griffith for greener pastures - zimmer suspended all those men from the union and zimmer was taunted as the national league's boy - many saying he was bought by the national league

          johnson's intent was to get players that's for sure - whether it was a 100 - i never heard that - of note, zimmer and johnson had a falling out - zimmer claimed that johnson wanted the whole union en masse to jump to the al but zimmer wouldn't do it because it would be selling out/displacing all the men already in the al from 1900 - johnson denied this

          many predicted the end of the al when mcgraw jumped with his men - part of the reason the nl sought peace by the end of 1902 was the strong front johnson and men displayed after this incident - interesting to note al rosters only carried about 14 men at the time - mcgraw took 7 or so and he did this while wilbert robinson was at his mother's funeral - robinson came back to find everyone gone

          the owners weren't the only thing johnson had to accept in new york - he was forced to sell the team for the joke price of $18,000 - johnson was astounded when he first realized the extent of corruption and politics in ny - he had never seen anything like it - but he had to play the game

          the raided the nl and faced the courts later - most of it was said and done - keep in mind also that very, very few had signed a nl contract for 1901 until march 1901 (if they were planning to stay)

          true about the pirates - but syndicate tactics built the pirate dynasty - dreyfuss was just smart enough to keep them away from the nl - and of course the al weaked the other nl teams by signing their talent

          make no mistake about it - johnson would have destroyed the nl if he could've - he would have taken all their players and their fans if it was up to him

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by yanks0714
            I agree with all your statements. Johnson should be given credit for not rushing full tilt into this effort, giving time to build a strong foundation, developing a workable plan, a willingness to adapt the plan to eventualities, and forging strong business relationships with his financial ownerships. His idea of creating a league of less rowdyism which would appeal to a whole as yet untapped populace was farsighted.

            Ban Johnson had plenty of help but it was he himself that made the formation of the AL a rousing success.
            what really impresses me about johnson is how he took a defunct minor league and turned it into a powerhouse during the depression of the 1890s

            Comment


            • #7
              Ban Johnson:

              Ban Johnson may have been a skilled operative in out-maneuvering the NL owners. But I just cannot admire the man. He started out as a Cincinnati sports writer, and the organized the Western League. So I can give him that.

              And I also support him in his support for his league umpires. Support of umpires is imperative to having a legitimate league. John McGraw was wrong in jumping from the AL Baltimore team, because Ban Johnson supported his umpires.

              But . . . (there's always a but . . .) Ban Johnson was such a moral joke. He proved how much a moral hypocrite he was, when the Federal League came along and tried to establish itself as a competing ML. That small group of businessmen were doing precisely what Johnson had done 14 years previous.

              But instead of observing that and accepting it, he tried to get all the newspaper editors to label the new sports entrepreneurs "outlaws".

              Since he was the "outlaw" only 14 years earlier, that showed his true moral colors. The main newspaper editor that counted was JG Taylor Spink, of the Sporting News, in St. Louis. Taylor Spink had just come into the leadership of The Sporting News, and he threw all of his support behind Johnson, and called the new "upstarts", "outlaws".

              The other reason I can never stomach Ban Johnson was his absolute implacable opposition to any and all issues concerning player rights. Johnson believed that there was no such thing as "Player Rights". There were only owner's rights, and players were property, chattel.

              Player's contracts were bought and sold, and the players had no voice in the decisions of where they played, for how much, or how long. If a player didn't report as expected, they were out of the organized structure of the game. No appeal, no nothing. The "Reserve Clause" was viewed by Johnson and his small cabal of owners as something sacred, sanctified.

              If a player complained too much about any particular thing, such as the size of his salary, etc., technically, his owner could put him on a train to the minors, and keep him there permanently, at a salary of the owner's choosing. And don't think those things didn't happen regularly. Even Connie Mack once did that when a player requested a raise.

              When Carl Mays got disgusted with his team, the BoSox, in 1919, he walked away and went fishing. The Yankees offered him a job with them, and when Johnson heard of that, he lost his breakfast. He fired off one court injunction after another. Johnson and Colonel Huston exchanged dueling injunctions. Huston won, and the courts upheld the Yankees right to hold onto Mays.

              That caused a permanent breach between the NY club and Johnson. Comiskey sided with the NY club, and the owners lined up into sides. Pro-Johnson, and anti-Johnson.

              Johnson also lost the war with Harry Frazee. Frazee was selling all his players to NY, and Johnson tried to stop it. I agree with Johnson in that one particular issue.

              But what cooked Johnson goose for good was the Speaker/Leonard/Cobb/Wood Affair. They HAD bet on a game at the end of the 1919 season, and when Leonard wanted revenge on both Tris/Ty for not wanting his services anymore, he tried to ruin them by selling 2 letters he had to Ban Johnson, in the summer of 1926.

              Based on Tris/Ty betting on a single game on Sept. 25, 1919, Ban Johnson covertly coerces them to resign their management positions, with any official public explanation. Although Ty/Tris had bet on the game, Leonard lied when he accused them of "fixing" the game. They had not tried to pre-arranged the outcome of the game in question. But Leonard hoped that others would assume, "that where there is smoke, there is fire." Ban Johnson did assume that, Judge Landis, for a change, was more just, fair and even-handed. So, Speaker/Cobb were reinstated, and JOHNSON HIMSELF got the boot. How fair! How poetically just! Talk about instant karma.

              Well, you can imagine the furor THAT created in the late summer, fall of 1926! Judge Landis got wind of it, and put a stop to that fiasco. I wrote that incident up in my Ty Cobb file, the "Leonard/Cobb/Speaker Affair.

              Landis had no valid proof the bet was made (even though it was) and he realized that to expel 2 stars for an isolated incident of bad judgment was not a proportional response. So Landis exonerated them, and ever since, everyone suspects that the owners blackballed both Cobb and Speaker from ever participating in managing/ executive positions, ever again.

              But the owners didn't leave it at that. They also realized that Ban Johnson had so soiled the reps of all concerned, that they voted him a permanent retirement in 1927. And boy do I concur with that decision.

              So, while Ban Johnson did some good for baseball, that can't be denied, he so forfeited any claim to awards or recognition, that I can't stand that he now sits in the Hall of Fame, with decent people.

              I strongly feel he was more a scoundrel than a good man. He was thoroughly drenched in lust for power, and it is also known that he had to have total approval of all player trades, sales, etc. Trades such as Eddie Collins/Joe Jackson to the White Sox had to go through him, for his approval.

              It wasn't until the emergence of Huston/Ruppert that challenged Johnson's right to control player trades/sales.

              Bill Burgess
              Last edited by Bill Burgess; 02-25-2006, 09:16 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                of course johnson opposed the federal league - in his position he had to be - why in the world wouldn't he? he was the president of one of the two established major leagues

                johnson was one of 100+ men oppressing the players - no doubt about that - i see that point and agree with it - but the players had a good life - they were well paid compared to society as a whole and like i said they lived a charmed life - i can't really sniffle for them

                of course mays couldn't be let to do whatever he wanted - he was only one of many players - there was a system of rules to follow - why would johnson allow any player to declare himself a free agent whenever he felt like it? mays got what he wanted in the end via the challenge to johnson

                johnson made a joke out of himself from 1919 on

                i agree he surely ruled the al with a firm hand

                what really cooked johnson's goose was the thought that he could tangle with the judge and win the battle - landis had other things to say about that

                Comment


                • #9
                  Although I can logically see your points, I cannot abide by a bully. I see things from the player's perspective. Almost ridiculously so.

                  Even if the owners, from a business standpoint, must support the "Reserve Clause", and oppose any and all challenges to it, must we who support "free agency", admire those who fought it so bitterly for 100 yrs.?

                  Must we grudgingly admire those who did all in their power to prevent the formation of the Player's Ass.? Must we admire those who successfully suppressed the natural desire to enjoy a rising living standard, by holding player salaries at an unnatural level.

                  Using the reserve clause as their first line of defense, the owner's were able to successfully create an invisible ceiling for salaries. Babe Ruth got $80,000. for 1930-31. And that "invisible ceiling" was STILL in effect all the way through to 1975.

                  Imagine that. From 1930-1975, the stars were held to under $100,000. Joe DiMaggio/Ted Williams arrived at around $100,000. in the late 40's, and the owner's were able to keep the best guys hovering around that figure for the next 30 yrs.!!!!

                  Talk about an unnatural legal/political manipulation of market forces. The owners were able to keep their anti-trust law exemption all that time.

                  When the player's revolt finally stormed the Palace Bastion, in the mid-70's, the salaries jumped, in one fell swoop to $1M. salaries. I think Nolan Ryan was the first to get $1m. So the pay scale structure went from $100,000. to 1M, in one big jump.

                  That proves that the owners, using the reserve clause, were able to keep player salaries to about 1/10th their natural market values.

                  NOW, do you see how severely the owners got to screw their players, hiding behind the criminal "reserve clause". Got to pay their slaves 1/10 of their value!

                  So, that is why no one should ever admire someone the likes of Ban Johnson! He was a king of crooks. He always saw to it that HIS salary was WAY above that of any player. I believe he made the owners pay him around $50K in the 20's. And for what? Nobody ever bought a ticket to see him see at his desk and write.

                  Bill Burgess
                  Last edited by Bill Burgess; 02-25-2006, 10:36 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Market Values:

                    If the Reserve Clause had never existed, and the players had been able to shop their services around to all the owners, I think the following salaries would not have been out of line. This is assuming the owners were not so corrupt as to collude and establish a "Gentleman's Agreement" to fix the salaries at an arbitrarily-agreed upon low-ball limit.

                    1. Ruth - Colonel Ruppert himself admitted that he could have paid him $200,000. and not be overpaying him. I think that's about right.

                    2. Cobb - In 1912, I think he could have gotten $30K, instead of $10K.
                    And in the 1920's, $150K instead of $50K.

                    3. Wagner - In 1908, $25K, instead of $8K

                    4. Gehrig - In the 1930's, $50K, instead of $34K.

                    5. DiMag/Williams - Around 1950, $300,000K instead of $100,000.

                    6. Mantle/Mays/Koufax - In 1965, $1M, instead of $100,000.
                    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 02-25-2006, 10:51 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bkmckenna
                      i agree with your comments about johnson but he would have been on very shaky ground without charles somers' money - somers' bailed out or outright carried many teams for years
                      Great post!

                      Much thanks for the info on the union. I was not totally aware of all the intracies of the union in the entire equation.
                      When I said Johnson was "using" the union I was referring to his backing the union in telling players not to sign their contracts making it more viable for his AL to raid those players.

                      A very good point about the umpires. That was part of Johnson's intention to make the game more fit for more of the populace in curbing rowdyism.

                      When I referenced Comiskey in my original post I was wrong. I should have referenced Griffith. It was Clark who was spearheading much of the raiding of players and inducing them not to sign contracts with the NL. Comiskey came in later. Griffith, Comiskey and Johnson were really way to much for the NL owners to handle. That was powerful triumvate.

                      I had totally forgotten about Charles Somers' part in the whole thing. You are absilutely correct that it was Somers who finanaced much of the AL as Johnson readied for battle with the AL. Once he got the 'money men' in place as owners he was set...but It was Somers financial assistance that gave him the time to do that.

                      Regarding NY, the Giants owner was in tight with Tammany Hall. Together they frustrated Johnson is trying to bring in an AL team and later tried to block him from finding an adequate location in NY where to play. The two 'shady' characters were the price Johnson had to pay to get a team in NY. He bided his time landing Huston and Ruppert eventually.
                      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 02-26-2006, 11:20 AM.

                      Yankees Fan Since 1957

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bkmckenna
                        what really impresses me about johnson is how he took a defunct minor league and turned it into a powerhouse during the depression of the 1890s
                        Absolutely. That is the primary reason I have to admire the early Ban Johnson. His had a vision but more importantly he had the plan, the financial backing, and determination to make it all work.

                        Later, he became mostly unbearable with his lust for power and his egotistic ways. I agree with Bill that Ban Johnson is not a man to admire very much especially in the way he turned out over the years. But I have to admire him for what he did with the Western League and how he forged the AL into parity with the established NL.

                        Yankees Fan Since 1957

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bkmckenna
                          of course johnson opposed the federal league - in his position he had to be - why in the world wouldn't he? he was the president of one of the two established major leagues

                          johnson was one of 100+ men oppressing the players - no doubt about that - i see that point and agree with it - but the players had a good life - they were well paid compared to society as a whole and like i said they lived a charmed life - i can't really sniffle for them

                          of course mays couldn't be let to do whatever he wanted - he was only one of many players - there was a system of rules to follow - why would johnson allow any player to declare himself a free agent whenever he felt like it? mays got what he wanted in the end via the challenge to johnson

                          johnson made a joke out of himself from 1919 on

                          i agree he surely ruled the al with a firm hand

                          what really cooked johnson's goose was the thought that he could tangle with the judge and win the battle - landis had other things to say about that
                          I agree with your responses to Bill.

                          The three AL teams that opposed Johnson considered breaking away from the AL simply because of Johnson.

                          Johnson could not accept some AL owners not kowtowing to his authority. It drove him mad in a manner of speaking. Coupled with his excessive drinking and the challenges to his power by those 3 teams owners 'forced' Johnson into the confrontation with Landis. His impaired judgement and egotism blinded him into believing he could 'take' Landis. He was by then a sorry spectacle and needed to be moved out of power.

                          Yankees Fan Since 1957

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by yanks0714
                            Absolutely. That is the primary reason I have to admire the early Ban Johnson. His had a vision but more importantly he had the plan, the financial backing, and determination to make it all work.

                            Later, he became mostly unbearable with his lust for power and his egotistic ways. I agree with Bill that Ban Johnson is not a man to admire very much especially in the way he turned out over the years. But I have to admire him for what he did with the Western League and how he forged the AL into parity with the established NL.
                            And I find your post to be quite reasonable. The early Johnson perhaps was a man to be admired. But perhaps too much authority can undermine even a strongly principled person.

                            And maybe that is what happened to him. Too much power can undermine the moral foundation of anyone.

                            Anyway, here is a quite revealing transcript of a press conference that he gave in January, 1927, when he was trying to drive 2 of his brightest stars out of his league. Judge for yourselves if it makes good sense. I've taken this excerpt from my "Leonard/Cobb/Speaker/Wood Affair", found in Ty Cobb Thread, post #7.
                            http://baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?t=28106
                            --------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            Later, when the sports community lined up behind Cobb & Speaker, Ban Johnson put out this fantastic message at a press conference in Chicago, IL, Jan. 17, 1927;

                            "I don't believe Ty Cobb ever played a dishonest game in his life. If that is the exoneration he seeks, I gladly give it to him. But it is from Landis that Cobb should seek an explanation. The American League ousted Cobb, but it was Landis who broadcast the story of his mistakes.

                            I love Ty Cobb. I never knew a finer player. I don't think he's been a good manager, and I have had to strap him as a father straps an unruly boy. But I know Ty Cobb's not a crooked ball player. We let him go because he had written a peculiar letter about a betting deal that he couldn't explain and because I felt that he violated a position of trust.

                            Tris Speaker is a different type of fellow. For want of a better word I'd call Tris cute. He knows why he was forced out of the management of the Cleveland club. If he wants me to tell him I'll meet him in a court of law and tell the facts under oath.

                            The American League is a business. When our directors found two employees whom they didn't think were serving them right they had to let them go. Now isn't that enough? As long as I'm President of the American League neither one of them will manage or play on our teams."

                            "I have men working for me, on my personal payroll, whose business it is to report on the conduct of our ball players. We don't want players betting on horse races or ball games while they're playing. We don't want players willing to lay down to another team either for friendship or money. That's why I get these reports. This data belongs to me, and not to Landis. The American League gave Landis enough to show why Cobb and Speaker were no longer wanted by us. That's all we needed to give him. I have reports on Speaker which Landis never will get unless we go to court.

                            "Judge Landis need not worry over the correctness of that interview. I made that statement then, I'm making it again, and I'll make it when he calls me Monday.

                            "I only hope he holds an open meeting. I want the public to know what the American League did and what Landis did.

                            "I sent a detective to watch the conduct of the Cleveland club two years ago. I learned from him by whom bets were made on horse races and ball games. I learned who was taking the money for the bets. I learned the names of the bookmakers who accepted the wagers and how much money was won or lost. I was gathering the evidence. Now, I watched Ty Cobb, too. I watched him not because I thought he was crooked, but because I thought he was a bad manager. Frequently, I have called him down. I gave Ty an interview just before he went on his hunting trip last Fall. He talked to me for two hours. He was heart-broken and maintained his innocence in that alleged betting deal which his letter tells about. I told him that whether guilty or not, he was through in the American League. I didn't think he played fair with his employers or with me. The actual facts which caused this whole explosion came to me early last Summer.

                            "Dutch Leonard had a claim against the Detroit Club. He threatened to sue for damages. He asserted that he had sworn statements of five men stating that Cobb had declared he would drive Leonard out of baseball. Ty always has been violent in his likes and dislikes. Those statements of his, if carried to court, would have been damaging to the Detroit Club. Frank Navin, the owner, also faced the possibility that, should he refuse to settle with Leonard, the latter would sell two letters, One, of course, was that one written by Cobb, and the other was that letter of Joe Wood.

                            "You know the contents. Both indicate knowledge on the part of the writers of a plan to bet on a framed ball game. Cob denies he bet, and I don't think he did. I say again I think Ty is honest. But as he couldn't explain the letter satisfactorily, it was a damaging document. So on that letter alone the American League would have been forced to let Cobb go. Now Speaker was implicated in the deal by statements by Leonard. I also have the data of my detective. I called a meeting of the directors of my league. My own illness and the pressure of their business delayed the meeting until Sept. 9, 1926. We met in a prominent Chicago club. We wanted secrecy, not because it meant anything to us but because we felt we should protect Cobb and Speaker as much as we could. They had done a lot for baseball. We had to let them out, but we saw no reason for bringing embarrassment upon their families. We wanted to be decent about it. The directors voted to turn the results of the Leonard investigation over to Landis. We did that in compliment to him, not to pass the buck. We had acted. We thought he ought to know about it.

                            When Landis released that testimony and those letters, I was amazed. I couldn't fathom his motive. The only thing I could see behind that move was a desire for personal publicity. I'll tell him that when I take the witness stand. The American League is a business. It is a semi-public business to be sure, and we try to keep faith with the public. Certainly we had the right to let two employees go if we felt that they had violated a trust.

                            But Landis had no right to release the Leonard charges. He had taken no part in the ousting of the two men. It was purely a league, not an inter-league matter, and there was nothing to be gained by telling the world that we felt Cobb and Speaker had made mistakes which made them unwelcome employees. When I take the stand Monday I may tell the whole story of my relationship with the Judge. If he wants to know when I lost faith in him I'll tell him this. When the Black Sox scandal broke the American League voted to prosecute the crooked players. Landis received the job. After several months had passed I asked him what he was doing, and he replied: 'Nothing'. I took the case away from him, prosecuted it with the funds of the American League and never asked him for help. I had decided he didn't want to cooperate. My second break with Landis came over a financial matter. I do not care to discuss it now, but I will tell about it Monday, if he wants me to. This statement of mine probably means a new fight with Landis. But he has chosen to make the public think the American League passed the buck to him on the Speaker and Cobb case. That's not true, and I don't intend to let the public keep on thinking that way."

                            Johnson also said that his observations of the Cleveland club showed that players as late as 1925 were continually betting on horse racing during the baseball season. One report, Johnson said, details the story of a pool by the players that netted a profit of $4,200. "We have no objections to players attending horse races," Johnson said. "We do object to them betting on races while they are supposed to be giving their best efforts to the baseball games." End of press conference. (New York Times, Jan. 18, 1927, pp. 18, "Johnson Accepts Landis Challenge")

                            NY sports writer, John Kieran, writing in his New York Times sports column, "Sports of the Times", rebuts Mr. Johnson with wit in his January 22, 1927 piece. "His latest explanation is that Speaker and Cobb were incompetent managers. To anyone who knows baseball, such an excuse for the removal of a club manager by a league President is nothing short of laughable. On that basis, the last half dozen managers of the Phillies were in danger of hanging." . . . The American League owners tried a muzzle on Johnson, and it didn't fit. This time they may try a catapult." (New York Times, Sports of the Times, by John Kieran, January 22, 1927, pp. 17)
                            ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            And more self-contradictory, convoluted, hypocritical garbage has not been seen in this part of the world until recently. And if good luck holds . . .

                            Bottom line. Johnson was perfectly willing to sacrifice 2 of America's heroes due to appearances. Well, America wasn't, and let him know in no uncertain terms!
                            Last edited by Bill Burgess; 02-25-2006, 01:22 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by [email protected]
                              Although I can logically see your points, I cannot abide by a bully. I see things from the player's perspective. Almost ridiculously so.

                              Even if the owners, from a business standpoint, must support the "Reserve Clause", and oppose any and all challenges to it, must we who support "free agency", admire those who fought it so bitterly for 100 yrs.?
                              Bill, I don't disagree with any of what you wrote above. But singling out Ban Johnson for the reserve clause is not the right angle. After all, that flimsy legal piece of paper would never have stood the test of the courts....but was used for how many years against the players, long after Ban Johnson was no longer in power.

                              BUT, baseball players were better paid than the average American worker was and they were playing a game! I cannot cry for those players....I'd rather cry for the salt of the earth American workers.

                              The part I really have a great deal of angst over is this: Why couldn't the Reserve Clause have been challenged so much earlier? A good lawyer would have made mincemeat of that shabby ridiculous piece of cheesey legalese. When Marvin Miller finally got to take a good hard look at the so-called Reserve Clause he was dumbfounded. He could not believe this was THE Reserve Clause that had bound a player to a team for eternity, year after year. Once it was challenged it was folded, spindled, and mutilated as it should have been years before. It was a mythical legality that was used by the owners to intimidate and bound over a player....but the owners also knew it could not hold up to a legitimate legal challenge.
                              Last edited by Bill Burgess; 02-25-2006, 12:08 PM.

                              Yankees Fan Since 1957

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