Historic Baseball

Historic Baseball

Bringing Baseball History To Center Field

1920-1945 – Baseball’s Rebirth

After the scandal of the 1919 World Series, professional baseball found itself at a crossroads of sorts. How could baseball survive with the U.S. focused on the scandal of the Black Sox?

Baseball’s first move was to hire Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis as baseball’s first commissioner. Landis had brokered the deal that brought an end to the Federal League. Landis stepped in and banned eight players from the Chicago White Sox (including Joe Jackson).

But, baseball needed something else. Nothing takes the mind off a scandal like a player of heroic proportions. That player came in the form of Babe Ruth. In 1920, the Boston Red Sox sent Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000. Ruth became an immediate hero.

The baseball also became more “reactive” during this time. Some say baseball made a change in the structure of the baseball.  Others point to a series of factors including the fact that teams started using more balls during the game (keeping them whiter and more visible to batters).

In his first season in New York, the Babe hit an amazing 54 home runs. In the previous season, Ruth had set the all-time record with 29 home runs. In 1923, more than 74,000 were on hand to see Ruth christen the new Yankee Stadium with a home run.

This new age brought the arrival of a strong of powerful teams (The New York Yankees) and power hitters (RuthHank Greenberg, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig). 

For pitchers, the era brought the end of the spit ball. No longer was a single ball used in a game — new balls were introduced to increase offense. With the new advantage, batters became more aggressive in the way they approached pitches. Batters stopped choking up and starting taking harder swings at the ball. In 1926, pitchers were given a little more leeway when baseball officials granted them permission to use a resin bag during games. 

By the end of this era, baseball players began to face a new issue. Many were leaving to serve in the U.S. military during World War II.