This is one of those things that I'm surprised I've never seen before...but a few days ago here was the MVP award staring back at me on my Hall of Fame daily calendar...
You just don't see a lot of octagon awards and, to be clear, that has nothing to with my call for a redesign. It is my surprise that the award honors Kenesaw Mountian Landis [and that's with only one "n" in Kenesaw...the real mountain's name is Kennesaw].
I'm not even going to get into the handling to the Black Sox scandal and the unfair banishing of Shoeless Joe Jackson...I'll leave that to Field of Dreams or Eight Men Out. It all has to do with the fact that during his nearly 25 years as Commissioner no black person was allowed to play professional baseball.
If there wasn't an agreement between the owners that black players were banned, black players would have been playing. It amazes me when people dismiss the idea that owners collude against modern players, like Barry Bonds, when past owners were able to collude against an entire race of people with Landis overseeing it all.
I don't doubt that Landis was a product of his time. He was named after a Civil War battle in which Sherman was defeated after all...I'm not sure what it was about people that were middle aged at the turn of the 20th century but they don't seem like a happy bunch. If you search "Kenesaw Mountain Landis" you'll notice that there are few, if any, photos of him smiling. With a cursory search this was about as close as I could find:
They usually look like this:
There were certainly a lot of people during that period who were what I would call "casual racist." I don't have any quotes to point out to you that demonstrate Landis' outright bigotry but it is certainly safe to say that he didn't go out of his way to integrate the league and it was only has his death that real progress was made in allowing black players in the MLB or the minors.
Taking Landis out of the award will likely never happen though because baseball loves its history. And if it isn't crystal clear, I love its history too...just read some of my blog. There just are some parts of its history that we shouldn't really honor any longer and we should instead just let if fade into the ether...or was that maybe Andre Either.