Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20 - Kenesaw Mountain Landis

Federal judge and commissioner of baseball Kenesaw Mountain Landis was born on November 20, 1866, near Cincinnati, Ohio. He was named after a Civil War battle in Georgia in which his father had fought. Kenesaw practiced law in Chicago, where, in 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him U.S. district judge for the northern district of Illinois. Two years later, he imposed a $29 million fine on Standard Oil for granting unlawful freight rebates. Though the decision was reversed on appeal, it made Landis famous nationwide. During World War I he presided over sedition trials of Socialist and labor leaders for impeding the war effort. In 1920, after the “Black Sox” bribery scandal in which eight Chicago White Sox players threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, Landis was appointed commissioner of baseball. He immediately barred the White Sox players from the game. Landis was known for cleaning up baseball and restoring public confidence in the game. He reigned omnipotent for 24 years, having warned baseball owners, "You have told the world that my powers would be absolute."

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