On November 12, 1920, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was appointed to serve a seven year term as Major League Baseball’s first commissioner following a conference at the Congress Hotel in Chicago.
The Federal Judge was selected by 16 club owners after a three hour discussion. He excepted the position and continued his judiciary service as he took on responsibility for the future of baseball. With his acceptance, the three-man National Commission was terminated.
Not only was Landis continuing his responsibility to keep crooks off the street, but trying to keep criminal activity out of America’s favorite pass-time. His motives were to keep baseball alive for the next generation, and even suggested an $8,000 pay cut for himself since he would be working two jobs.
Landis held baseball’s highest office until his death in 1944. He gave the sport a new life and kept it alive for future generations.
Landis said this to Clark Griffith, a personal friend and the owner of the Washington team of the American League after the meeting as they stood looking out a window.
“I’m going to tell you why I took this job. See those kids down there on the street? See that airplane propeller on the wall? Well, that explains my acceptance. You see that propeller was on the plane in which my son, Major Reed Landis, flew while overseas. Reed and I went to one of the world’s series games at Brooklyn. Outside the gate was a bunch of little kids playing around. Reed turned to me and said: Dad, wouldn’t it be a shame to have the game of these little kids broken up? Wouldn’t it be awful to take baseball away from them?’ “Well, while you gentlemen were talking to me, I looked up at this propeller and thought of Reed. Then I thought of his remark in Brooklyn. Grif, we’ve got to keep baseball on a high standard for the sake of the youngsters.”