Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kenesaw Mountain Landis
Kenesaw Mountain Landis (20 November, 1866 – 25 November, 1944) was an American jurist who served as a federal judge from 1905 to 1922, and subsequently as the first commissioner of Major League Baseball. Born in Millville, Ohio, he died in Chicago, Illinois. His name comes from a variant spelling of Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia, the site of a battle his father, a physician, fought in on the Union side during the American Civil War. Two of his brothers served in the United States Congress.
After being appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to the bench of the Northern District of Illinois in 1905, Landis dealt with several cases of historical significance during his career as a US federal judge. In 1907, he presided over a Standard Oil antitrust trial fining them $29 million for accepting rail freight rebates, although the verdict was later set aside. In 1918, he held the trial of a number of union leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World for violating the Espionage Act.
While serving as a federal judge, Landis was selected in 1920 to become the first Commissioner of Major League Baseball, serving from 1920 until his death in 1944. He is credited with restoring public confidence in the integrity of baseball following the 1919 Black Sox scandal by permanently banishing eight players from the sport for their involvement.
His detractors claim he perpetuated the color line and prolonged the segregation of organized baseball. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1944, in a special election held one month after his death.
Major League Baseball's Most Valuable Player Award is officially known as the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Award in his honor.
Pietrusza, David, Judge and Jury: The Life and Times of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, South Bend (IN): Diamond Communications, 1998.
Spink, J. G. Taylor, Judge Landis and Twenty-Five Years of Baseball, New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1947.
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