Many of us knew that Kenesaw Mountain Landis was named by his father who was wounded at that Civil War battle. He was the first Baseball Commissioner. While judge of U. S. District Court of Northern Illinois he fined Standard Oil of Indiana $29,240,000 in 1907. The fine was unenforceable and overturned on appeal.

Something I did not know until reading Steven Goldman’s FORGING GENIUS THE MAKING OF CASEY STENGEL. In 1918 there was a trial of over 100 members of the Industrial Workers of the World. Landis assessed fines totaling 2.3 million and sentences of up to twenty years. They were arrested for violating the subversion laws of WWI. Landis stated, “When the country is at peace it is a legal right of free speech to oppose going to war,” he said from the bench, “when once war is declared this right ceases.”

Landis was also the judge in 1915 when the Federal League trying to establish itself as the third Major League brought anti-trust suit against organized baseball. He refused to rule on this suit. A compromise was made and the Federal League disbanded.

After Pearl Harbor Landis appealed to the White House for instructions about baseball’s place during the war. On January 15, 1942 President Roosevelt issued a “green light” for baseball.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis was a well-known judge before the Black Sox Scandal.

The Waynedale News Staff
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