Landis, Kenesaw Mountain

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Landis, Kenesaw Mountain

Kenesaw Mountain Landis (kĕn´əsô´), 1866–1944, American jurist and commissioner of baseball (1921–44), b. Millville, Butler co., Ohio, grad. Union College of Law (now Northwestern Univ. law school), 1891. He practiced law in Chicago after 1891, the year he was admitted to the bar, and later served (1905–22) as a U.S. district judge in N Illinois. In 1907 he imposed a $29,240,000 fine on the Standard Oil Company of Indiana in a rebate case. Though it was reversed by a higher court, the decision won him wide acclaim. In 1917 he sentenced William D. Haywood, American labor leader, to a 20-year prison term, and although the decision was later reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court, Landis sentenced Victor Berger and six other Socialists for sedition (impeding the war effort). After organized baseball was confronted (1920) with the "Black Sox" scandal, a committee of baseball executives appointed (1921) Landis—who had presided at the case in which the newly organized Federal League brought suit against the National and American leagues for violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act—to the new post of baseball commissioner. Landis immediately barred from organized baseball the eight Chicago White Sox players charged with bribery in the 1919 world series. The strict discipline he imposed on players and managements did much to restore public faith in professional baseball.

See biography by J. G. T. Spink (1947).

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