House Dems call on MLB to remove Kenesaw Mountain Landis' name from MVP awardscloseVideo
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Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis’ name should be removed from Major League Baseball's American and National League MVP awards, a group of House Democrats said Tuesday.
Reps. Gil Cisneros, D-Calif., and Cedric Richmond, D-La., sent a letter signed by 28 congressional leaders to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America asking for the league and the journalists to reconsider the name on the prestigious awards.
MVP PLAQUE PRESENTERS TO DISCUSS LANDIS' NAME ON MLB TROPHY
“We recognize that Commissioner Landis’ namesake on the award is the result of his role in creating the system by which the Baseball Writers’ Association of America picks each league’s MVP recipient,” the letter read.
“However, given that Commissioner Landis perpetuated baseball’s ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement,’ to keep Black players out of the major leagues, we agree it is time to remove his name from the award, and move toward a more inclusive award designation.”
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. (AP Photo/Jennifer Szymaszek, File)
Landis became the first commissioner in baseball in 1920. Black players were not allowed in the league at that time. He died in 1944 and Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the National League in 1947 while Larry Doby broke the barrier in the American League in 1948.
BASEBALL MVPS CALL FOR KENESAW MOUNTAIN LANDIS' NAME TO BE REMOVED FROM TROPHIES
Landis’ legacy is “always a complicated story” that includes “documented racism,” official MLB historian John Thorn said in July.
Every AL and NL MVP plaque since Landis’ death has carried his name — in letters twice as big as the winner — and an imprint of his face. Landis gave the BBWAA control of picking and presenting the MVPs in 1931. Landis’ name has been on the plaques for 75 years, but it is not pledged to remain there under the BBWAA constitution. A vote by the membership could lead to a redesign by the end of the coronavirus-delayed, 60-game season set to start in three weeks.
The change has already been endorsed by MVPs Mike Schmidt and Barry Larkin.
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“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 told The Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.