Baseball’s First Commissioner Led a Conspiracy of Silence to Keep the Sport Segregated


The Baseball Writers’ Association of America recently announced that it would remove former Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis’ name from the plaques awarded to the American and National League MVPs.

The decision came after a number of former MVPs, including Black award winners Barry Larkin and Terry Pendleton, voiced their displeasure with their plaques being named for Landis, who kept the game segregated during the 24 years he served as commissioner from 1920 until his death in 1944. The Brooklyn Dodgers ended the color line when they signed Jackie Robinson to a contract in October 1945, less than a year after Landis’ death.

Landis has had his defenders over the years. In the past, essayist David Kaiser, baseball historian Norman Macht, Landis biographer David Pietrusza and the commissioner’s nephew, Lincoln Landis, have claimed that there is no evidence that Landis said or did anything racist.

But in my view, it’s what he didn’t say and didn’t do that made him a racist.

In my book “Conspiracy of Silence: Sportswriters and the Long Campaign to Desegregate Baseball,” I argue that baseball’s color line existed as long as it did because the nation’s white mainstream sportswriters remained silent about it, even as Black and progressive activists campaigned for integration.

However those who ran the league possessed far more power than sportswriters. Landis, along with the owners, knew that there were Black players good enough to play in the big leagues. If he wanted to integrate Major League Baseball, he could have.

Instead, he did all he could to prevent the rest of America from knowing just how talented Black baseball players were.

Petitions go ignored

By the time Landis became commissioner in 1920, baseball had been segregated ever since a so-called “gentlemen’s agreement” took place among team owners in the 1880s.

However, it was common practice in the 1920s for Major League teams to earn extra money in the off-season by playing Black teams in exhibition games. Landis put a halt to these games because he wanted to end the embarrassment of the Black teams’ winning so often.

It is worth noting that Black athletes competed with white ones in other sports in the 1920s and 1930s, including boxing, college tennis, college football and, for several years, the National Football League. Black athletes also represented the United States in the Olympics.

During the 1930s, Black sportswriters like Wendell Smith and Sam Lacy, along with white sportswriters for the Communist newspaper The Daily Worker, intensely campaigned for the integration of baseball.

In their editorials and articles, Worker sportswriters chronicled the accomplishments of Negro League stars and told readers that struggling Major League teams could improve their chances by signing Black players. Meanwhile, Communist activists organized protests and circulated petition drives outside the ballparks of New York’s three Major League teams – the Yankees, Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers – demanding that teams sign Black players.

The petitions, which had, according to one estimate, a million signatures, were then sent off to the commissioner’s office. They were ignored. The Daily Worker regularly focused on Landis as the person responsible for the color line, while the Black press derisively called him “the Great White Father.”

Don’t ask, don’t tell

Landis’ defenders say that he could not possibly have been a bigot because he suspended Yankees outfielder Jake Powell for making a racist comment during a 1938 radio interview.

Landis suspended Powell not because the ballplayer used a slur, but because it was heard by fans, and Black activists pressured the commissioner to do something. While Landis ended up punishing a racist player, he did nothing to end racial discrimination against Black players.

Furthermore, Landis refused to allow players and managers to speak on the issue. When Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher was quoted in a 1942 Daily Worker article saying he would sign Black players if he were allowed to, Landis ordered Durocher to deny that he made the statement.

The following year, Landis again subverted the campaign to end segregation in the sport.

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Sam Lacy, who was then working for the Chicago Defender, repeatedly asked Landis for a meeting to talk about the color line. When Landis finally agreed, Lacy asked the commissioner if he could make the case for integration at baseball’s annual meeting.

Landis, without telling Lacy, invited the Negro Newspaper Publishers Association. Also invited to speak was Paul Robeson, the onetime college football star who had become an actor, singer, writer – and avowed Communist. Lacy was incensed that Robeson would be asked to address the conservative white owners about the sensitive issue of integration.

To Lacy, the presence of Robeson meant that Landis could plant seeds of suspicion with white owners and sportswriters that the campaign to integrate baseball was a Communist front.

Lacy wrote in a column that Landis reminded him of a cartoon he had seen of a man extending his right hand in a gesture of friendship while clenching a long knife that was hidden in his left hand.

Landis died in December 1944, and Lacy finally got a chance to address team executives in March of the following year. Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey ended up signing Jackie Robinson to a contract several months later, thus ending segregation in baseball.

Lee Lowenfish, Rickey’s biographer, was convinced that Landis would have tried to stop the Brooklyn executive from signing Robinson.

I believe it is no coincidence that baseball remained segregated during Landis’ reign as commissioner – or that it became integrated only after he died.

Chris Lamb, Professor of Journalism, IUPUI

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Image: Wikimedia



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Brussels tightens rules for staff after commissioner tests positive for coronavirus – POLITICO


Some Commission meetings will now be held virtually | Stephanie Lecocq/EFE via EPA

EU executive to restrict who may attend certain meetings.

The European Commission is tightening rules for senior staff to prevent further coronavirus infections, after Commissioner Mariya Gabriel announced she tested positive Saturday.

“Special chefs” meetings — made up of commissioners’ cabinet members, legal service staff and secretariat staff to prepare proposals before they go to the College of Commissioners — will now be held virtually, spokesman Eric Mamer said Sunday. Weekly “hebdo” meetings with senior civil servants will still be held in person, but restricted to the heads of cabinet, while other officials will attend virtually.

College meetings will also continue in person each week, but the number of attendants will be restricted to commissioners, the secretary-general, legal services and spokespeople.

Gabriel was the first commissioner to confirm a positive coronavirus test, but other members of Ursula von der Leyen’s team have had to self-isolate in recent weeks due to potential exposure, including the Commission president herself.





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EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel tests positive for coronavirus – POLITICO


European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel | Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

The Bulgarian politician had been in self-isolation since Monday.

Mariya Gabriel, Europe’s commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, tested positive for the coronavirus, she announced on Twitter Saturday.

The Bulgarian politician had been in self-isolation since Monday after a member of her team tested positive for the virus. She tested negative on Monday, but said that a second test came back positive.

Gabriel is the first member of the von der Leyen Commission to confirm a positive coronavirus test, although several commissioners have undertaken periods of self-isolation amid concerns about infection, including Frans Timmermans, Valdis Dombrovskis and Stella Kyriakides.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also previously said she was self-isolating after coming into contact with someone who later tested positive. Von der Leyen wrote to Gabriel on Saturday: “I wish you a prompt recovery! Take good care of yourself.”

Gabriel said she continues “staying at home, following the established regulations.” She urged others: “Keep yourself healthy and stay safe!”





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Victoria’s emergency commissioner Andrew Crisp changes evidence given about coronavirus hotel quarantine



Victoria’s emergency management commissioner says he was not pressured to change the evidence he gave to a parliamentary committee about Victoria’s hotel quarantine program.

In a letter to Victoria’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC), Andrew Crisp corrected evidence he gave to the committee in late August.

He told the committee he briefed Police Minister Lisa Neville on March 27 and 28, when the ill-fated quarantine program was being set up.

But in an about-face, Mr Crisp has conceded that never happened.

“I wish to correct this in acknowledgement that I did not brief the Minister for Police and Emergency Services throughout March 27–28 2020 with regard to what was being planned,” he wrote in the letter.

Mr Crisp’s PAEC evidence was contradicted by Ms Neville in September at the separate COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry. She said no law enforcement officials briefed her in the critical hotel quarantine establishment period.

“Apart from [one] meeting, I did not attend any meetings, receive any briefings or have any discussions between March 27–29 2020 during which the proposed structure or lines of accountability for the HQP [hotel quarantine program] were discussed,” Ms Neville wrote in her witness statement to the inquiry.

Opposition wants Crisp recalled before committee

At a media briefing on Thursday, Premier Daniel Andrews said he did not consult with Mr Crisp over his evidence.

“Anyone who knows Andrew Crisp knows that’s not the way he operates,” Mr Andrews said. “If you want to know more about his statement, then the only person who can give you that is him.

“It’s ultimately a statement from an independent statutory officer and he’s probably the person to talk to about that.”

Later, Mr Crisp issued a public statement to say his decision to change his evidence was not influenced by the Government.

“Following my appearance at the PAEC Inquiry, I was provided with the opportunity to verify the draft transcript of those proceedings,” he said.

“Having thoroughly considered the transcript, I identified what I believe are discrepancies and appropriately, I have chosen to correct the record to ensure it is accurate.

“This is a decision I have taken alone and it was not discussed with government ministers or their offices.”

Victorian Shadow Attorney-General Ed O’Donohue said it was further evidence Victorians had not been given a clear picture of the state’s hotel quarantine operation.

He said Mr Crisp should have to reappear before the committee to clarify his evidence.

“We need to know the truth, we need to know the facts and we simply don’t have that yet,” Mr O’Donohue said.



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NBL Commissioner says NSW has all the qualities to successfully restart the season with multiple hubs


New South Wales has emerged as a frontrunner to host NBL hubs, with league Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger declaring the state has all the attributes to successfully restart the season.

Loeliger confirmed that the league has held positive talks with the NSW Government about Sydney and regional areas like Wollongong and Newcastle hosting hubs.

South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria are also in the mix, but Sydney and surrounding areas look to be favoured as locations to restart the season in mid-January.

Victoria looks to be New South Wales’ biggest threat, with the Victorian government having productive talks with the NBL about hosting all nine teams at Melbourne Arena after the Australian Open tennis tournament.

“New South Wales has everything we would need in order to be able to play in a hub if we decide to do that for part or all of the season,” Loeliger said.

“Our conversations with various representatives of NSW Government have been both positive and productive. We are very confident of the ability to host more NBL games in NSW than would ordinarily be the case and that’s underpinned by the fact that they have first class facilities both in Sydney and also in regional areas such as Wollongong and Newcastle.

“Sport and major events will be critical to the economic recovery of the state and we think the NBL can assist in this regard, potentially bringing tourists from around the country to watch their teams compete in NSW if they’re not able to do so in their home cities.”

Loeliger believes NSW is building strongly as a respected destination for basketball.

He feels a hub in the state would also be hugely beneficial for the growth of the sport, especially in the junior ranks.

“Basketball is growing rapidly in NSW, which has two NBL teams in the Kings and the Hawks, and a very significant fan base across the state.

“Sydney will of course also host the FIBA Women’s World Cup in 2022.”

Loeliger also welcomed the news that NSW Stadiums can now hold a capacity of 50 per cent – up from the previous mark of 25 per cent due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fans attending NBL games is paramount for the sport’s financial future given the NBL doesn’t have a big dollar broadcast deal.

“Today’s announcement about increasing stadium capacity in NSW is good news for sport and a positive sign for the NBL,” he said.

“The health and safety of players, staff and fans is paramount but the concept of a hub also provides us with a great opportunity to start our season with some certainty and also meet our aim of making games accessible to as many fans as possible.

“The NBL has enjoyed huge growth in recent seasons and we want to maintain that momentum notwithstanding the challenges all sports are facing.”



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SA Equal Opportunity Commissioner quits for “history-making” Victorian job


SA’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner Niki Vincent will quit next month to take up a comparable role in Victoria – citing the eastern state’s “nation-leading” new laws as the reason for her move – but insists an already-overdue inquiry into workplace harassment in SA Parliament will not be further delayed by her departure.

Vincent announced yesterday afternoon that she would stand down as commissioner in October – seven months before her five-year contract was scheduled to end – to pursue a new role as Victoria’s inaugural Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner.

She described her new job, which was legislated by the Victorian Government in February and focusses on ensuring the eastern state’s 300 public service employers comply with gender targets, as a “fantastic opportunity” that would “catalyse change throughout Australia”.

“It’s an inaugural role, so it’s kind of history-making and when I saw what Victoria was doing with its Gender Equality Act I just thought that is just such an opportunity for really pushing gender equality along,” she told InDaily this morning.

“This is nation-leading legislation and it’s really designed to give it a big push, I think, in public sector workplaces.

“It’s going to be like a giant sort-of social experiment to see what a legislation like this will have throughout Australia and particularly in Victoria.”

Vincent said her departure would not impact equal opportunity projects currently in train, including an inquiry into workplace harassment in state parliament, which was originally scheduled to end last month but is yet to begin as the commission is still waiting for permission from both houses of parliament.

“Those projects are not about me, they’re about the commission doing that work, so whoever the Attorney and the Governor appoints to the role will be able to actually move those projects along just as I have,” she said.

“I have every confidence that they’ll be successful.”

I’m so very excited to announce my new appointment.

Posted by Dr Niki Vincent, Commissioner for Equal Opportunity – South Australia on Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Throughout her four-year career, Vincent has spearheaded inquiries into workplace discrimination and harassment at SA Police, the Metropolitan Fire Service and various other government agencies.

She has also reduced the time her office spends assessing complaints of workplace discrimination, harassment and victimisation to just over one month.

“I think the work that we’ve done has made discrimination more visible,” she said.

“We’ve seen a lot more complaints of workplace sexual harassment in the last 12 months – more than we’ve had ever.

“Compared to average over the last four years, our (sexual harassment) complaints last year were up 46 per cent.

“I don’t know if that’s because sexual harassment is happening more, but I do think people now understand what sexual harassment is and they feel more willing to speak about it and more supported to speak out about it, and they know where to come to speak out about it now.”

But Vincent’s tenure has also been impacted by an openly sour relationship with Chapman over budget and performance disagreements.

In July last year, Chapman branded Vincent’s decision to spend $50,000 on a public relations firm as an “absurdity” that was “not justified or sustainable” – a spend that Vincent rebuked was necessary after she tried but failed to publicise issues using departmental media advisors.

Four-months later, Vincent described Chapman as “vindictive” after the Attorney-General said she was “concerned” that “insufficient” resources had been spent by Vincent to tackle discrimination against people with disability.

Vincent has also criticised the Government for funding her office to “run on the smell of an oily rag” at $958,000 each year.

“I’m independent and I’m not a public servant, so it is my job to push boundaries and so that means that ministers and I won’t necessarily always agree on things,” she said today.

“Putting that aside and me being a minor issue, the most important impacts that we’ve had have been what we’ve been able to do shining a light on equal opportunity.”

Vincent said she handed her resignation to Chapman on Wednesday but was yet to receive a reply.

A State Government spokesperson said Chapman wished Vincent well in her new position, with a replacement commissioner to be recruited “in due course”.

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Indian High Commissioner calls on Lankan Ministers of Shipping, Ports and Trade


Colombo, September 4 (Indian High Commission): The High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay called on the Minister of Ports and Shipping, P. Rohitha Abeygunawardhana on September 4. They exchanged views on various matters of mutual interest and agreed on the importance of investment for enhanced connectivity between the two nations for prosperity and mutual benefit.

High Commissioner of India also called on the Minister of Trade of Sri Lanka, Hon. Bandula Gunawardhana on September 3. During the discussion, both sides exchanged views on ways to further develop the strong and mutually beneficial trade and investment ties between India and Sri Lanka. High Commissioner outlined India’s commitment to strengthen its economic partnership with Sri Lanka, including through trade and investment. He also spoke about the need to ensure greater use of digital means to sustain the interaction between businesses and governments on both sides in the current situation. In this context, they agreed to explore the possibility of organizing more sector-specific interaction involving business representatives of both countries.





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Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness wants EU commissioner role – POLITICO


Could Mairead McGuiness succeed Antonio Tajani in the European Parliament’s top job? | Alexis Haulot/European Union

Fine Gael MEP says she’d like to take over from Phil Hogan.

MEP Mairead McGuinness has thrown her name into the hat to replace Phil Hogan as Ireland’s European commissioner.

McGuinness confirmed her interest in the role to Irish paper the Sunday Independent. The post became available last week following Hogan’s resignation after a scandal over breaking coronavirus restrictions.

McGuinness, who has been an MEP since 2004 and is a member of the Fine Gael party, told the Sunday Independent: “I have been in the Parliament 16 years, I have worked my way through that milieu where I have managed to get support across the house.”

“I got 90 percent of the vote when I was elected first vice president so I have a track record. My name is in the mix, but I am very aware that this process is only beginning in Ireland and it is a government decision. The nomination will be made by the Taoiseach and I respect that,” she said.

Other names understood to be in the frame for the role include Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and Fine Gael MEP Frances Fitzgerald, the Sunday Independent reported.





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Phil Hogan: Ireland’s EU trade commissioner quits ‘after breaking coronavirus lockdown rules’ | World News


Ireland’s EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan has resigned after claims he broke coronavirus lockdown rules by attending a controversial golf dinner.

News of his departure came after Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said the top official had “undermined the whole approach to public health in Ireland”.

He has already apologised for attending the event in the west of Ireland, but the government said it was clear he also breached self-isolation guidelines on a trip home from Brussels.

Image:
Irish PM Micheal Martin speaks to reporters in Dublin on Wednesday

Speaking in Dublin on Wednesday, Mr Martin stopped short of calling for Mr Hogan to go, but said there had been a “significant difficulty for the government in terms of the changing narrative as this story has unfolded”.

Mr Hogan has denied breaching any of Ireland’s coronavirus rules, but has faced harsh criticism from politicians and the public alike during a week in which his version of events changed several times.

He flew to Ireland from Brussels on 31 July, and travelled to his temporary residence at the K Club golf club in Co Kildare. Belgium is not on Ireland’s “Green List”, so Mr Hogan was required to restrict his movements for 14 days.

But on 5 August he went to Dublin for a hospital appointment and received a COVID-19 test, which was negative.

Mr Hogan has since argued that this meant he no longer had to restrict his movements for the remainder of the fortnight period.

This had been disputed by the country’s Health Service Executive, and the government, which said he was still required to see out the isolation period.

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On 7 August, several Irish counties – including Kildare – were placed on local lockdown. Mr Hogan left hours before this came into effect and travelled to Kilkenny.

On 17 August, he travelled back to the K Club, ostensibly to pick up important documents – a reason that would exempt him from Kildare’s lockdown – before continuing on to the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) Golf Society event in Clifden, Co Galway.

While driving in Co Kildare, he was stopped by Gardai (Irish police) and received a caution for using his mobile phone.

More than 80 people attended the dinner in Clifden on 19 August – a day after the Irish government announced indoor gatherings should be restricted to six people or fewer.

The subsequent public outcry to what became known as “Golfgate” also led to the resignation of Ireland’s minister for agriculture Dara Calleary, the deputy chairman of the Senate Jerry Buttimer, and apologies from many others.

Sky News’ Ireland correspondent Stephen Murphy said Mr Hogan was widely known as “Big Phil” and was a “brash and wily political operator”.

“He is a huge political figure here in Ireland,” he said.

“He has been battling desperately to save his job over the last few days with a series of defiant statements, defending his movements around the country in the days leading up to this dinner. Nobody expected his resignation.”



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Sam Mostyn on becoming the first female AFL commissioner, receiving hate mail and why quotas work


When Sam Mostyn became the first female AFL commissioner in 2005, she was prepared for resistance from certain parts of the footy community — what she didn’t expect was blowback from women involved in the game.

Throughout her 11-year stint on the AFL Commission, Mostyn served as a trailblazer for women in the game. She was a key part of the push to create the AFLW competition and helped develop the AFL’s Respect and Responsibility policies.

But back in 2005, the early days were tough. And in a pre-social media era, the negative feedback had a personal touch.

“I got a lot of hate mail,” Mostyn told Kurt Fearnley on One Plus One.

“This is sort of pre-Twitter and social media, so I got very carefully written letters — often unsigned so I couldn’t respond — that warned me that what I was doing was dangerous, that it would take the AFL into dangerous territory and was the end of footy as we knew it.

“[They said] that they would be watching me to ensure I didn’t change, I guess, the masculinity and muscular nature of football. There were a number of those.”

Mostyn, who is now a board member with the Sydney Swans, also explained the process by which she was selected to join the AFL Commission, which saw her pitted against a number of other women for the job.

It was this quota system, she said, which brought about the ire of other women in the game. But it is also one she supports and vehemently defends.

“I went to a few events and I met the women of football, long-term supporters of the game, and at one event in particular a group of women came up to me and I thought they were going to say, ‘Congratulations, what does it feel like?'” she said.

“I said, ‘What have I done?’ and they said, ‘You have joined the AFL Commission in a process where you weren’t compared and contrasted to men, so you’ll never know if you’re really good enough. This kind of quota appointment does such damage to women, so you shouldn’t be proud.'”

“I ended the conversation saying, ‘I’m intrigued — how else are we going to get our voices heard and be part of this incredible community of governance of the game when we’re so much apart from it? We’re not there around those tables.’

“Those women in particular hated the idea of the quota.”

Mostyn was a big factor in the creation of the AFL Women’s competition.(AAP: David Mariuz)

Despite the initial resistance and criticism, Mostyn says such quota-based hirings are essential for businesses looking to change their culture and open doors for greater representation.

“Hoping, wishing and praying for change when you’re in the minority of an industry is not going to work,” she said.

“You need a purposeful set of appointments and processes. And if you’re that lucky person who is the benefit of a quota, you have to handle yourself with a great deal of care about what you are opening up for the rest of the people you represent.

“So you grab that opportunity and thrive in it and commit to doing the best job you can. That’s how I’ve always handled that.

“I’m a big believer in quotas and a big believer in the need to change things by making these kinds of purposeful appointments.”

Sam Mostyn and Kurt Fearnley sit next to each other and smile for a photo
Mostyn told Kurt Fearnley on One Plus One she supported quota-based hirings.(ABC News)

Since Mostyn’s introduction in 2005, Linda Dessau, Kim Williams, Simone Wilkie and Gabrielle Trainor have all held positions on the AFL Commission, while the AFLW has gone from strength to strength, opening doors for women and girls who want to be a part of the game.

A lot of the gains we are now seeing started with Mostyn’s appointment 15 years ago. But she says at the time, even AFL clubs were unsure whether a woman should have a place on the commission.

“I was very warmly received by the commissioners and by the AFL itself,” she said.

“I think all the [club] presidents once I was appointed were happy, but it’s interesting to note that not all clubs supported the appointment of a woman at that time.

“There were 16 clubs back then and only 13 supported the appointment of a woman, so there were three clubs at that time that I knew were not happy about this direct appointment.”

Watch the full interview with Sam Mostyn on One Plus One on ABC TV at 9:30pm tonight.



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