Make your home page

Former baseball commissioner’s name pulled off MVP plaques after 75 years

A Joe DiMaggio 1947 MVP Award plaque is displayed Jan. 22, 2006, at a news conference in New York. (AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The name of the former baseball commissioner who
never had a Black player in the majors during his long reign is being
pulled off all future MVP plaques after more than 75 years.

Mountain Landis won’t be depicted on the annual awards presented by the
Baseball Writers’ Association of the America, the group said Friday.
The decision came after 89% of its membership voted this week for

“We will no longer will be associated with the Landis
name, and the MVP plaques will be nameless in 2020,” BBWAA president
Paul Sullivan wrote.

“Hopefully when some sense of normalcy
returns in 2021 we can have a healthy debate over whether to add a new
name or just leave it as the BBWAA MVP award,” he said.

In a story
by The Associated Press in late June, former MVP winners Barry Larkin,
Mike Schmidt and Terry Pendleton said they favored pulling Landis’ name
because of concerns over his handling of Black players.

Larkin, the Black shortstop voted NL MVP in 1995 with Cincinnati, applauded the decision.

me, the MVP award should be something that’s all positive,” Larkin told
the AP on Friday. “There shouldn’t be a cloud over it.”

“I think the MVP honor stands on its own. It doesn’t need a name,” he said.

of the BBWAA’s ruling, Pendleton, the Black third baseman who won the
1991 NL honor with Atlanta, texted: “It’s the right thing to do!!!”

League Baseball will redesign the trophies, said Jack O’Connell, BBWAA
secretary-treasurer. The AL and NL winners awards in this
virus-shortened season will be announced on Nov. 12.

Landis became
MLB’s first commissioner in 1920 and no Blacks played in the majors
during his tenure that ended with his death in 1944. Jackie Robinson
broke the color barrier in 1947 and Larry Doby followed later that year.

Landis’ legacy is “always a complicated story” that includes “documented racism,” official MLB historian John Thorn has said.

1931, Landis had given the BBWAA control of picking and presenting the
MVPs. During the 1944 World Series, the BBWAA voted to add Landis’ name
to the plaque as “an acknowledgement of his relationship with the
writers,” O’Connell said.

Landis died a month later at 78 and soon was elected to the Hall of Fame.

AL and NL MVP plaque since then has carried his name — emblazoned with
shiny, gold letters twice as big as the actual winner — plus a sizable
imprint of his face.

“This is 2020 now and things have changed
all around the world. It can change for the better,” Pendleton said
earlier. “Statues are coming down, people are looking at monuments and

Schmidt, the three-time NL MVP with Philadelphia,
previously said: “If you’re looking to expose individuals in baseball’s
history who promoted racism by continuing to close baseball’s doors to
men of color, Kenesaw Landis would be a candidate.”

“Looking back
to baseball in the early 1900s, this was the norm. It doesn’t make it
right, though,” said the Hall of Famer, who is white. “Removing his name
from the MVP trophy would expose the injustice of that era. I’d gladly
replace the engraving on my trophies.”

After the BBWAA decision, he wrote in an email: “Should stand alone … NLMVP 2021”

August, U.S. Reps. Gil Cisneros of California and Cedric Richmond of
Louisiana sent a letter signed by 28 House Democrats to MLB Commissioner
Rob Manfred and Sullivan calling for Landis’ name to be pulled. All of
the members had played in the Congressional Baseball Game, an annual
charity matchup at Nationals Park.

“The BBWAA made the right decision, and it better reflects the sport we all know and love,” Cisneros tweeted.

has been a lot of debate on social media in recent months over whose
name should be on MVP plaques, if anybody at all. Among those getting
support were Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, the only player to win the
MVP award in both leagues, Negro Leagues great Josh Gibson and Brooklyn
Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, who signed Robinson.