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Kenesaw Mountain Landis' Name Removed from MLB MVP Awards After BBWAA Vote

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 2, 2020

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. A group of House Democrats called Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, for the name of former baseball commissioner Landis to be pulled off future Most Valuable Player plaques. (AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek, File)
Jennifer Szymaszek/Associated Press

Major League Baseball's MVP awards will no longer bear the name of former commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Per The Athletic's Marc Carig, the Baseball Writers Association of America voted to remove Landis' name from the awards. 

Carig noted the BBWAA "will decide in 2021 if Landis' name will be replaced."

Landis is a controversial figure in MLB history because of his support for segregation. He was named the sport's first-ever commissioner in 1920 and served in that role for 24 years until he died at the age of 78 in 1944. 

MLB historian John Thorn wrote earlier this year about Landis' efforts to keep the sport segregated during his time as commissioner:

"Landis could have broken the color bar in the 1920s, when he ruled the game with an iron fist and owners feared crossing him. His powers over them waned with the economic woes of the 1930s; by then he may well have felt more constrained—that he had to go along with a broad national sentiment against racial integration. Then again, the onset of World War II might have persuaded him otherwise. 'If we are able to stop bullets, why not balls?' was the excellent question posed on rally placards."

Former MVP winners Barry Larkin, Mike Schmidt and Terry Pendleton told reporters earlier this year that Landis' name shouldn't be on the trophy. 

"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," Larkin said in July. 

Schmidt said that Landis "would be a candidate" for someone to pick if they wanted to "expose individuals in baseball's history who promoted racism by continuing to close baseball's doors to men of color."

The American and National League MVP plaques are named the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award. His name has been displayed on the trophies since 1944. 

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