Kenesaw Mountain Landis

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Landis, Kenesaw Mountain

(kĕn`əsô'), 1866–1944, American jurist and commissioner of baseball (1921–44), b. Millville, Butler co., Ohio, grad. Union College of Law (now Northwestern Univ. law school), 1891. He practiced law in Chicago after 1891, the year he was admitted to the bar, and later served (1905–22) as a U.S. district judge in N Illinois. In 1907 he imposed a $29,240,000 fine on the Standard Oil Company of Indiana in a rebate case. Though it was reversed by a higher court, the decision won him wide acclaim. In 1917 he sentenced William D. HaywoodHaywood, William Dudley,
1869–1928, American labor leader, known as Big Bill Haywood, b. Salt Lake City, Utah. He began work as a miner at 15 years of age. In 1896 he joined the newly organized Western Federation of Miners, and in 1900 became a member of the executive
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, American labor leader, to a 20-year prison term, and although the decision was later reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court, Landis sentenced Victor Berger and six other Socialists for sedition (impeding the war effort). After organized baseball was confronted (1920) with the "Black Sox" scandal, a committee of baseball executives appointed (1921) Landis—who had presided at the case in which the newly organized Federal League brought suit against the National and American leagues for violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act—to the new post of baseball commissioner. Landis immediately barred from organized baseball the eight Chicago White Sox players charged with bribery in the 1919 world series. The strict discipline he imposed on players and managements did much to restore public faith in professional baseball.


See biography by J. G. T. Spink (1947).

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Landis, Kenesaw Mountain

(1866–1944) judge, baseball commissioner; born in Millville, Ohio. A lawyer appointed federal district judge in Chicago in 1905, Landis gained attention for his dramatic $30-million ruling against Standard Oil (later reversed) and for patriotic cases connected with the Espionage Act of 1917. As baseball's autocratic first commissioner (1920–44), he banned for life eight players who had previously been acquitted in the "Black Sox" scandal of 1919. He earned his reputation for integrity and for reestablishing the reputation and integrity of baseball, but his insistence on excluding African-Americans from organized baseball prevented their participation in the national pastime until after his death. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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