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Baseball 1920-1929 Without a doubt baseball was “king” in the 1920s. The game had reached stability in that the 16 franchises had been established for.

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Presentation on theme: "Baseball 1920-1929 Without a doubt baseball was “king” in the 1920s. The game had reached stability in that the 16 franchises had been established for."— Presentation transcript:

1 Baseball Without a doubt baseball was “king” in the 1920s. The game had reached stability in that the 16 franchises had been established for at least a decade, the World Series had become institutionalized since its onset in Minor-league baseball teams at levels from Class AAA to Class D were located in almost every town of more than 10,000 throughout the eastern United States and much of the western. The 16 major-league teams were all in the Northeast, where the majority of the population was situated. Teams were located from Boston to Washington, D.C. The southwestern limit was St. Louis where two teams, the Cardinals of the National League and the Browns of the American League, were established. The northwest limit was Chicago with its two squads, the Cubs and the White Sox. Major-league baseball was given extensive coverage in one of the newest and most popular sections of daily and weekly newspapers, the sports pages.

2 Baseball Baseball was both a rural and urban game, though it would have been challenging to play the game in the squalid sections of many of the inner cities populated by the newest, poorest immigrants. The game was popular in schools and municipal play areas and one that many fathers had played, so there was an intergenerational captivation with the game that could be shared in families.

3 Baseball All major-league baseball games were played during the day (the first major- league night baseball game was not until 1935) and the starting times were usually 3 P. M. Most of the fans who could attend would have not been working class, but rather management or so-called white-collar workers, since they had some latitude in leaving their workplace early enough to attend a game. Men attended games in suits and white shirts, since most had come directly from work and that was the accepted dress for this level of worker. Women were not frequent attendees unless they were accompanied by a male Most women would have been at home tending to families or at low-paid jobs; there were simply no women in management at the time. Thus, it would have been unlikely that many “respectable” women would have or could have gone to baseball games alone. Seeking more business, many teams promoted “Ladies Days,” where a woman was given free admission (and would have been accompanied by a man, who paid).

4 Baseball Ethnicity and Baseball Organized baseball was segregated. It had not always been so, but no African American had appeared on a major league roster since 1889 when Moses Fleetwood Walker had played in the International League, then considered a major league. Baseball did serve as a societal entrée for many white, first- generation immigrants from throughout Europe. Many played under assumed names in order to seem more “American” or, in some cases, to retain their amateur status for college sports. Baseball was a very assimilative sport, that is, there was less tolerance for diversity than in some other minor sports and this was likely the reason that players altered their “foreign” surnames.

5 Baseball Ethnicity and Baseball African Americans formed and played in their own leagues, including a few major-league-level leagues, the Negro National League and the Eastern League. In 1924 the first Negro League World Series was held with the Kansas City Monarchs defeating the Hilldale club of Philadelphia, 5 games to 4. Earlier in the decade Negro League teams had played a number of major-league clubs in exhibition games after the regular season ended, but this was stopped by the new commissioner of baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, in Games featuring white and black players continued, but the white players could no longer compete in their major-league uniforms and the games were, thusly, promoted as a particular Negro League team against a team of white “all stars.”

6 Baseball Ethnicity and Baseball Andrew “Rube” Foster was considered the “father” of the Negro Leagues was a fantastic pitcher in the early part of the century and then formed the Negro National League and helped form the Eastern League. Some of the top players in the Negro Leagues: John Henry Lloyd, Oscar Charleston and Biz Mackey (all eventually elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame), The Negro Leagues were well covered by the African American press such as the Chicago Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier, and the Amsterdam News. Segregation in the 1920s extended to major- and minor-league baseball and led to the growth of outstanding Negro league teams. The development of a separate group of newspapers that drew mostly on African American readers provided the exposure necessary for the Negro Leagues to succeed.

7 Baseball Economics and Legal Issues Players were not usually middle class, unlike most of the attendees of games, who were. Most players were working class, with few skills and education, happy to be paid to play baseball. There were exceptions, with a small, but significant number of players having attended or graduated from college. The owners had all of the power to keep players under contract and prevent their movements to other teams. Salaries were relatively low, just above that of a middle- management wage earner.

8 Baseball Economics and Legal Issues The owners' power was legally sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1922, in a case that had been brought by a baseball club in the Federal League. This league had operated in the latter years of the 1910s before the National and American Leagues offered financial inducements to some Federal League owners to drive the league out of business and maintain the monopoly that the established major leagues had on players and player salaries. One Federal League owner, instead, brought a lawsuit against the National League under U.S. antitrust laws, claiming, essentially, that the major leagues were an illegal monopoly that restrained trade and led to illegal higher prices for customers.

9 Baseball Economics and Legal Issues In a case that would have impact for the next 75 years or more, the Court decided that baseball was not as much a business as it was a sport or entertainment, and the antitrust laws did not apply to baseball for that reason. Such a finding meant that the reserve clause, which bound players to one club until the team might decide to release the player, was not illegal. Player salaries were artificially contained for more than 50 years until the reserve clause was found to be an unfair restraint of trade. Even with that handicap, there were still a few players whose salaries rose enormously in this period; Babe Ruth, the player credited with making baseball more popular than ever and whose name was synonymous with baseball excitement and accomplishment.

10 Baseball Economics and Legal Issues Ruth's emergence as a national hero came at the same time that the throwing of the 1919 World Series by members of the Chicago White Sox. This led to baseball hiring its first commissioner, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Baseball had had various players who were either known or rumored to have accepted bribes to “fix” games for many years, but this was the biggest, most complex plot ever known. The perceived sanctity of the World Series made the crime seem all the more despicable.

11 Baseball Economics and Legal Issues The case against the players was not fully investigated and brought to trial until Because of various errors in retaining evidence, the 8 players were acquitted, despite confessions. The verdict was not convincing to Judge Landis, who he had been hired by organized baseball to provide order to a nearly anarchic enterprise, largely magnified by the Black Sox trial. Following the trial, Landis banned all 8 players from organized baseball for life. Including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who left the game with a lifetime batting average of.356, the 3 rd highest of all time. Due to this, he has been barred from election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

12 Baseball Baseball and the Media Sports pages became an integral part of the major newspapers only in the early twentieth century. By the 1920s, a few sportswriters had begun to make names for themselves, enhancing the various sports through their reporting. Some of the best known included: Grantland Rice, Paul Gallico, Ed Sullivan, Damon Runyon, Ring Lardner, Walter “Red” Smith, and Alison Danzig. Runyon, Lardner, and Gallico went on to become well-known novelists and short-story writers in other areas besides sports, but their writing lifted the respect given to sports journalism. Sullivan went from sport reporting to “gossip”/entertainment writing, before moving to radio and then television as the host of a top-ranked variety show, which aired from 1948 to 1971.

13 Baseball Baseball and the Media After graduating from Notre Dame in 1927 Walter “Red” Smith covered baseball and boxing. He wrote for the St. Louis Star and the Philadelphia Record before becoming a writer and columnist for various papers in New York City, beginning in He won a Pulitzer Prize for his New York Times writing in 1976 at the age of 71.

14 Baseball Baseball and the Media Rice was more known for his college football coverage and as an early radio reporter. Radio was invented in the late 1800s, but commercial radio did not become cheap enough to make feasible until 1920 and the first station on the air with actual licensing was KDKA in Pittsburgh, which covered the election returns for the 1920 presidential election between Cox and Harding. The next year one game of the World Series between the Yankees and the New York Giants was broadcast; the following year the entire series was broadcast on two stations in Baltimore and Schenectady, New York. Grantland Rice was the announcer. Radio amplifiers were set up in the ballpark, so listeners could hear the sounds of the game and imagine that they were right there. By the end of the decade, every top sports event would be broadcast on the radio as 50 percent of all American households had a radio.

15 Baseball Baseball through the Decade The World Series was the most listened-to baseball event. At first, it was feared that radio broadcasting would lower regular attendance at games, but, in fact, the opposite occurred. Radio made fans of more people and attendance rose during the 1920s. Cleveland Indians vs. Brooklyn Robins in the 1920 W. S. Bill Wambsganss of Cleveland made the only unassisted triple play ever in World Series history as the Indians won the series in 7 games. During the regular season, while at bat, Indians' shortstop Ray Chapman was killed by a ball pitched by Carl Mays. Chapman was and is the only major leaguer even to have been killed in a contest. His death was not an incentive to find more protective headwear for players, and batting helmets did not become mandatory for major-league use until 1971.

16 Baseball Baseball through the Decade The New York Yankees became the dominant team in baseball. Led by Babe Ruth, they won pennants in 1921, 1922, 1923, 1926, 1927, and The 1927 team is often called the greatest team of all time and the term “Murderers' Row” was coined to describe their hard- hitting batting order, which featured Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Bob Muesel at the middle of a lineup that led the league in batting average, triples, home runs, and slugging percentage and scored 70 more runs than the next closest team in the league. They also had 4 of the top starting pitchers in the league and won the American League pennant by 19 games, then swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series in 4 games.

17 Baseball Baseball through the Decade Ruth and Gehrig were seen as the top 2 hitters in the game, 1 or the other consistently leading the league in runs batted in and/or home runs. Ty Cobb was just ending his Hall of Fame career, but still hit.357 at the age of 40 to finish 5 th in the league. Despite the Black Sox scandal being exposed in the early part of the decade, Ruth's mammoth home runs and the new power-hitting of baseball overall drove attendance astronomically higher, from 52 million in 1910–20 to more than 86 million in the 1920s.

18 Baseball Baseball through the Decade The National League pennants were won by the New York Giants more than any other team of the decade (4), but the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates were also outstanding with 2 pennants each. John McGraw, the Giants' manager, helped fuel the New York rivalry between the Yankees and the Giants. Until Yankee Stadium was completed in 1923, the Yankees shared the Giants' home field, the Polo Grounds, from 1913 to 1922.

19 Baseball Baseball through the Decade The National League had its future Hall of Famers: Rogers Hornsby (nicknamed “Rajah”), Paul and Lloyd Waner (known as “Big and Little Poison”), Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander, and Chuck Klein. In the American League, Walter Johnson (the “Big Train”) was the top pitcher, and Al Simmons, Harry Heilman, and Robert “Lefty” Grove were future Hall of famers.

20 Baseball Baseball through the Decade Baseball was transformed in the 1920s from a game where singles and adept base running were the dominant mode to one where home runs became the key to success. In 1921 Babe Ruth hit 59 home runs; the next highest total was 24. By 1929 Ruth led again with 46, but the next highest totals were 43and 42. The game was more popular than ever, and baseball players, especially Ruth, were recognized heroes throughout the country.


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