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Sport MLB stars say it's time to pull Landis name off MVP plaques

06:46  01 july  2020
06:46  01 july  2020 Source:   ap.org

MVP plaque presenters to discuss Landis' name on MLB trophy

  MVP plaque presenters to discuss Landis' name on MLB trophy NEW YORK (AP) — The baseball organization that presents the annual MVP awards will consider whether the name of former commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis should be pulled from future plaques. “The issue is being addressed,” Jack O’Connell, longtime secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, said Wednesday. “It will definitely be put up for discussion.” Former NL Most Valuable Players Barry Larkin, Mike Schmidt and Terry Pendleton this week told The Associated Press they would favor removing Landis’ name because of concerns over his handling of Black players.“I could not agree more,” decorated writer and broadcaster Peter Gammons tweeted.

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. Landis broke up exhibitions between Black and white All- Star teams. He invited a group of Black newspaper publishers to address owners in what

© Provided by The Canadian Press. NEW YORK — Something still bothers Barry Larkin about his Most Valuable Player award. The other name engraved on the trophy: Kenesaw Mountain Landis . “Why is it on there?” said Larkin

a man holding a baseball bat: FILE - In this April 11, 2019, file photo, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, left, presents right fielder Mookie Betts with the 2018 AL MVP Award before a baseball game between the Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park in Boston. The award includes the name and image of Kenesaw Mountain Landis. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File) © APWF FILE - In this April 11, 2019, file photo, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, left, presents right fielder Mookie Betts with the 2018 AL MVP Award before a baseball game between the Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park in Boston. The award includes the name and image of Kenesaw Mountain Landis. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)

NEW YORK (AP) Something still bothers Barry Larkin about his Most Valuable Player award.

The other name engraved on the trophy: Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

''Why is it on there?'' said Larkin, the Black shortstop voted National League MVP in 1995 with the Cincinnati Reds.

''I was always aware of his name and what that meant to slowing the color line in Major League Baseball, of the racial injustice and inequality that Black players had to go through,'' the Hall of Famer said this week.

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But there it is, prominently displayed on every American League and NL MVP plaque since 1944 — Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award, in shiny, gold letters literally twice as big as those of the winner. With a sizable imprint of Landis ’ face, too. To some MVPs , it ’ s time for that

To some MVPs , it ’ s time for that 75-year run to end. “If you’re looking to expose individuals in baseball ’s history Landis broke up exhibitions between Black and white All- Star teams. He invited a group of Black To pull Landis ’ name “would be a simple matter of redesigning the plaque ,” he said .

Hired in 1920 as the sport's first commissioner to help clean up rampant gambling, Landis and his legacy are ''always a complicated story'' that includes ''documented racism,'' official MLB historian John Thorn said.

a group of people in uniform: FILE - In this Oct. 1, 1941, file photo, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, baseball commissioner, throws out the first ball, formally opening the 1941 World Series featuring the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York on Oct. 1, 1941. New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia is at right. Landis' name and image are on the National League and American League Most Valuable Player trophies. (AP Photo, File) © APWF FILE - In this Oct. 1, 1941, file photo, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, baseball commissioner, throws out the first ball, formally opening the 1941 World Series featuring the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York on Oct. 1, 1941. New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia is at right. Landis' name and image are on the National League and American League Most Valuable Player trophies. (AP Photo, File)

This much is true, in black and white: No Blacks played in the majors during his quarter-century tenure. Jackie Robinson broke the barrier in April 1947, about 2 1/2 years after Landis died.

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Most people just call it the MVP . But there it is, prominently displayed on every American League and NL MVP plaque since 1944 — Kenesaw Mountain O’Connell said if someone raised the issue now, it could be brought up to the board and opened to discussion and a vote. To pull Landis ’ name

Most people just call it the MVP . But there it is, prominently displayed on every American League and NL MVP plaque since 1944 — Kenesaw Mountain Landis To pull Landis ’ name “would be a simple matter of redesigning the plaque ,” he said . To Larkin, that would remove the tarnish from the trophy.

''Landis is a part of history, even though it was a dark history,'' Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker said.

Fact is, few fans realize Landis' name is plastered all over the Most Valuable Player trophies. Most people just call it the MVP.

But there it is, prominently displayed on every American League and NL MVP plaque since 1944 - Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award, in shiny, gold letters literally twice as big as those of the winner.

With a sizable imprint of Landis' face, too.

a clock that is on display: FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2006, file photo,a Joe DiMaggio 1947 MVP Award Plaque is displayed at a news conference in New York. The plaque features the name and image of Kenesaw Mountain Landis. (AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek, File) © APWF FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2006, file photo,a Joe DiMaggio 1947 MVP Award Plaque is displayed at a news conference in New York. The plaque features the name and image of Kenesaw Mountain Landis. (AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek, File)

To some MVPs, it's time for that 75-year run to end.

a close up of a sign: FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2006, file photo,a Joe DiMaggio 1947 MVP Award Plaque is displayed at a news conference in New York. The plaque features the name and image of Kenesaw Mountain Landis. (AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek, File) © APWF FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2006, file photo,a Joe DiMaggio 1947 MVP Award Plaque is displayed at a news conference in New York. The plaque features the name and image of Kenesaw Mountain Landis. (AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek, File)

''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,'' three-time NL MVP Mike Schmidt of Philadelphia said.

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To some MVPs , it ’ s time for that 75-year run to end. “If you’re looking to expose individuals in baseball ’s history who promoted racism by continuing to O’Connell said if someone raised the issue now, it could be brought up to the board and opened to discussion and a vote. To pull Landis ’ name

A number of former baseball MVPs say it is time to take Kennesaw Mountain Landis ' name off the plaque because of his racist past. "Why is it on there?" said Larkin, the Black shortstop voted National League MVP in 1995 with the Cincinnati Reds. "I was always aware of his name and what

''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.''

Added 1991 NL MVP Terry Pendleton of Atlanta, who is Black: ''This is 2020 now and things have changed all around the world. It can change for the better.''

''Statues are coming down, people are looking at monuments and memorials,'' he said. ''We need to get to the bottom of things, to do what's right. Yes, maybe it is time to change the name.''

''I've always thought about that, why is that still on there?'' Pendleton said. ''No doubt, MVP stands on its own. It doesn't need a name.''

a baseball player is getting ready to hit the ball: FILE - In this Oct. 22, 1992, file photo, Atlanta Braves' Terry Pendleton watches an RBI double against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning of Game 5 of the baseball World Series in Toronto. © APWF FILE - In this Oct. 22, 1992, file photo, Atlanta Braves' Terry Pendleton watches an RBI double against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning of Game 5 of the baseball World Series in Toronto. "I've always thought about that, why is that still on there?" Pendleton said, speaking of Kenesaw Mountain Landis' name on the MVP trophy. "No doubt, MVP stands on its own. It doesn't need a name." (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy, File)

Many hallowed baseball trophies are graced by the names of the greats: Robinson, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Cy Young, Willie Mays, Ted Williams and more.

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Landis was the first Major League Baseball commissioner and his tenure included 'documented racism,' according to an official MLB historian. The award is named the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award. "His name should not be represented on a plaque or award of honor

Most people just call it the MVP . But there it is, prominently displayed on every American League and NL MVP plaque since 1944 — Kenesaw O’Connell said if someone raised the issue now, it could be brought up to the board and opened to discussion and a vote. To pull Landis ’ name “would be a

How Landis got etched into the list is easy to trace.

A federal judge in Chicago, Landis quickly established his powerful authority as commissioner, banning Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Black Sox for throwing the 1919 World Series.

In 1931, Landis decided members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America would pick and present the MVP awards. Before that, the leagues had their own mishmash system.

Then during the 1944 World Series, the BBWAA voted to add Landis' name to the plaque as ''an acknowledgement of his relationship with the writers,'' longtime BBWAA secretary-treasuer Jack O'Connell said.

A month later, Landis died at 78. He soon was elected to the Hall of Fame.

''Landis is who he is. He was who he was,'' Thorn said. ''I absolutely support the movement to remove Confederate monuments, and Landis was pretty damn near Confederate.''

Landis' father, however, was a Union Army surgeon wounded in the Civil War at the battle of Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia, which became the inspiration for the commissioner's unique name. Born two years later in Ohio - with a slight tweak on the spelling of the mountain - Landis spent time in Indiana and rose to prominence in Chicago.

Barry Larkin in a baseball uniform throwing a ball: FILE - In this July 28, 2004, file photo, Cincinnati Reds' Barry Larkin takes a curtain call after hitting a pinch-hit grand slam off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Steve Kline in the fifth inning of a baseball game in Cincinnati. From the time Larkin collected the 1995 National League Most Valuable Player award, something about the prize bothered him. © APWF FILE - In this July 28, 2004, file photo, Cincinnati Reds' Barry Larkin takes a curtain call after hitting a pinch-hit grand slam off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Steve Kline in the fifth inning of a baseball game in Cincinnati. From the time Larkin collected the 1995 National League Most Valuable Player award, something about the prize bothered him. "I was made aware that Kenesaw Mountain Landis' name was on it and there was this question: Why is it on there?" Larkin said this week. (AP Photo/David Kohl, File)

His precise role in racial issues has been debated for decades.

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Landis broke up exhibitions between Black and white All-Star teams. He invited a group of Black newspaper publishers to address owners in what became a cordial but totally fruitless presentation.

Toward the end of his tenure, he told owners they were free to sign Black players. But there is no evidence he pushed for baseball integration, either, as the status quo of segregation remained.

''If you have the Jackie Robinson Award and the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Award, you are at diametrically opposed poles,'' Thorn said. ''And it does represent a conundrum.''

O'Connell said no MVP had voiced a complaint to him about Landis since taking his post in 1994. He said Landis' name on the plaque wasn't pledged or part of the BBWAA constitution.

Any BBWAA member could raise an objection to Landis' presence. Normally, that would be discussed at the organization's next gathering, currently scheduled for December at the winter meetings in Dallas. The coronavirus pandemic has put most everything-baseball related in peril - a 60-game season is set to begin in late July, and MVPs are usually announced in November.

a man wearing a hat: FILE - In this April 8, 2017, file photo, Atlanta Braves bench coach Terry Pendleton sits in the dugout before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh. Baseball's MVP trophy is engraved with the name of Kenesaw Mountain Landis in large letters. Landis was baseball's first commissioner and there were no Black players in the majors during his reign from 1920 until his death in 1944. Ive always thought about that, why is that still on there? Pendleton said. No doubt, MVP stands on its own. It doesnt need a name. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File) © APWF FILE - In this April 8, 2017, file photo, Atlanta Braves bench coach Terry Pendleton sits in the dugout before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh. Baseball's MVP trophy is engraved with the name of Kenesaw Mountain Landis in large letters. Landis was baseball's first commissioner and there were no Black players in the majors during his reign from 1920 until his death in 1944. Ive always thought about that, why is that still on there? Pendleton said. No doubt, MVP stands on its own. It doesnt need a name. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

O'Connell said if someone raised the issue now, it could be brought up to the board and opened to discussion and a vote. To pull Landis' name ''would be a simple matter of redesigning the plaque,'' he said.

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Barry Larkin wearing a suit and tie: FILE - In this July 14, 2015, file photo, Barry Larkin is introduced before the MLB All-Star baseball game in Cincinnati. Something still bothers Barry Larkin about his Most Valuable Player award. The other name engraved on the trophy: Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Why is it on there? said Larkin, the Black shortstop voted National League MVP in 1995 with the Cincinnati Reds.(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) © APWF FILE - In this July 14, 2015, file photo, Barry Larkin is introduced before the MLB All-Star baseball game in Cincinnati. Something still bothers Barry Larkin about his Most Valuable Player award. The other name engraved on the trophy: Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Why is it on there? said Larkin, the Black shortstop voted National League MVP in 1995 with the Cincinnati Reds.(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

To Larkin, that would remove the tarnish from the trophy.

Larkin recalled that shortly after he was voted MVP, he got a call from two-time NL MVP Joe Morgan. The star Black second baseman of the Big Red Machine talked about Landis' legacy and ''he said it never sat well with him, having that name on there,'' Larkin recalled.

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2008, file photo, a statue of Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt stands outside Citizens Bank Park as a passer-by holding an umbrella is reflected in the rain in Philadelphia. © APWF FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2008, file photo, a statue of Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt stands outside Citizens Bank Park as a passer-by holding an umbrella is reflected in the rain in Philadelphia. "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," three-time NL MVP Schmidt said. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Larkin agrees.

''His name should not be represented on a plaque or award of honor, especially at this day and time,'' he said. ''If his name was taken off, I would not be opposed to it at all.''

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