History Of Baseball , 1900-1930 Essay, Research Paper
Baseball in America is about as common as alcohol in college , it is everywhere and participated by everyone. Children and adults play baseball in small towns and large cities and professionals play it throughout the country. The game of baseball is America’s pastime and it popularity is enormous. The beginning of the 20th century between the 1930’s sparked the emergence of baseball and it’s members as nationally popular . There was many different organized leagues ,during these times , including The American and National Leagues and Negro Leagues . These leagues , mainly the American and National , had superstars who were immensely popular and beloved. Some stars in these leagues , scarred by scandals and malapropisms , damaged the baseball persona. The game of baseball from 1900-1930 began to take its form as a popular and magnificent sport that characterized American society.
In baseball , the years between 1900-1910 began with turbulent times and they finished that way. In the beginning of the 20th century , baseball began with a controversy between its two major leagues. The newly formed American League lured many National League players with “ offers of an average of $500 more per season”(1)and “ not [trading ]without their consent.”(2) The National League owners complained , mounted lawsuits , and fought among themselves. It was not until 1902 when owners from both leagues agreed “ to co-exist peacefully and to abstain from signing the other league’s players… respect the other’s rights”(3) and to define the territories of each league. A National Commission ,which had members from both leagues, was established to enforce the rules made between the two leagues.
The two leagues battle against one another , in attendance and popularity , during the following year. In 1903 , the two leagues decided to play a best of nine series between the winner from the National League and the winner from the American League. The series “ was a financial success for the owners”(4)and players and it was a popular success with the fans. The Boston team from the American League won the first world series in 1903 and the New York Giants from the National League won 1905. In 1904 , the National League choose not to play the world series because they did not want do anything to help the American League. This decision brought much criticism to the National League by fans , sportswriters , and players , so the National League decided to play the next year but in a seven game series instead. The National League winner in 1906 caused great controversy in baseball. Several weeks before the end of the season , the first place New York Giants were playing the second place Cubs in a pivotal game. In the bottom of the ninth, the Giants had two men at the corners and Al Bidwell of the Giants hit a single and the runner from third had scored ,to apparently win the game. After the man scored , Giants fans rushed the field , and Fred Merkle , the runner on first , went to the clubhouse in right field and did not tag second , thinking the game was over. The Cubs second baseman realized that and went to get the ball and tag second for the force , although Giant 3rd base coach realized this threw the ball into the stands. A fight ensued between Cub players and Giant fans and eventually the Cubs got the ball and tagged second. The runner was out , but the game had two teams claiming victory. Eventually ruled a tie by the commissioner , the game did not break the tie at the end of the regular season between Cubs and Giants ,and instead of the Giants winning , and the Cubs won in a playoff to be the National League champion.(5) In the ensuing 1906 World Series , the American League Chicago White Sox beat cross-town rival Chicago Cubs despite hitting just “ 7 home runs all season and [batting] .230” (6) After this the National League reasserted its dominance in the “ fall classic over the American League”(7) with the Cubs who won in 1907 and 1908 and the Pirates who won in 1909. The American League ended the National League dominance when the Philadelphia Athletics won the World Series in 1910. The decade from 1900-1910 was a very significant decade in the growth of baseball. Baseball expanded to more cities and leagues and was even more popular in America.
At the start of the second decade of the 20th century baseball continued to excel. The “ attendance was booming, interleague conflicts were diminishing ,” (8) and new superstars intrigued fans. Fans were mostly from the “middle class and upper ranks of the working people.”(9) Despite the fact of baseball’s rising success , the players did not have representation until 1912 the formation of the Fraternity of Professional Base Ball Players of America. The Fraternity had two goals “ to rid baseball of the hated reserve clause and to gain a larger share of baseball’s profits for the men who made them possible.”(10) Instead of getting more recognition and respect from the owners , the owners ignored the players organization.
The formation of the Federal League began after the 1913 season by a group of wealthy businessmen to challenge Major League Baseball. They offered large sums of money to players in the Major League to come play for the Federal League. The struggle between the Major Leagues and the Federal League continued and players like Three Finger Brown jumped to the Federal League , signing large lucrative contracts. As a result of the high contracts offered by the Federal League , salaries in Major League baseball greatly increased. The “ payrolls of major league teams.. averaged 51,000 before the Federal League .. rose to more than 70, 000 within two years.”(11) Later on , by 1915 , the Federal League disbanded , but not before it left an affect on Major League Baseball. The Federal League caused baseball players salaries to rise significantly and it also brought upon the reemergence of the Fraternity of Professional Base Ball Players of America. Despite the affects of the Federal League , after it disbanded , baseball czar , Ban Johnson continued his rule of Major League baseball and things went back to how they used to be. The cutting of salaries and the decreasing players rights began as soon after the Federal League disbanded.
America entered World War I in 1917 and by 1918 the Secretary of War “ issued an order that…called on eligible men to do war work or join the armed services.”(12) 227 Major Leaguers joined the military and the 1918 season was a bust. The World Series attracted little attention from American public , because Americans were focusing their attention on the war . The 1919 season was a success from the standpoint of baseball as a sport but was in great danger as baseball as a business. The National Agreement that ended the American- National League conflict was unraveling. The upsetment of Owners from both Leagues began with the leadership in Major League Baseball and caused arguments between them. The argument caused rocky times between the 2 Leagues , mainly the owners , and caused for tough times between the groups.
The event that summarized the season of 1919 was the Black Sox scandal during the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. Eight White Sox players received money to throw the World Series and , after the exposing of their scheme , received banishment from baseball forever. The White Sox were five to one favorites to win the series , so serious gamblers , like Arnold Rothstein , Abe Attel , known as the Big Bankroll paid the players $10 , 000 to lose games in the World Series. The formation of the plot started with Chicago first baseman Chick Gandil , because of his immense hatred of White Sox owner Charles Comiskey. The Red eventually won the World Series five games to three , but the victory was not completely clean.(13) The Black Sox scandal of 1919 epitomized the turbulent year baseball went through and put a sour taste in the mouths of baseball fans for the years to come.
The decade from 1910-1920 saw an American League overpowering dominance in the World Series. The American League Philadelphia A’s won in 1910 , 1911 , and 1913. The American League team from Boston won in 1912 , 1915, 1916, and 1918. The Chicago White Sox from the American League won their only title of the decade in 1917. The two National League victories came in 1914 by Boston of the National League and in 1919 by Cincinnati Reds in the infamous Black Sox scandal series. The decade between 1910-1920 was a decade marked by the war , scandals , and displayed American League dominance.
The new decade from 1920-1930 started with a bang , beginning with “ the greatest” season “yet in baseball history.” (14) The decade brought about the emergence of the superstar. Individual players were immensely popular and important to their team’s success. They broke records , changed the game of baseball , and dominated during their time. During the season of 1920 six teams broke their previous attendance records and an emerging star known as George Herman Ruth was the reason . Babe “ Ruth defies analysis. He was an original , an unbridled , bigger-than-life character whose approach to baseball changed the game forever.”(15) Ruth smashed 54 home runs in 1920 , more than all but one team managed to hit that year. Babe Ruth changed baseball almost singe handedly and overnight. Between the decade of 1910-1920 eight pitchers won 30 or more games in a season but since Ruth made pitchers pitch from pitch , making tough pitches no matter if people were on base , there has just been one. The attendance followed accordingly to Ruth’s performance , when he played well , it went up , and when he played bad , the numbers fell. George Herman led the New York Yankees to 4 World Series Championships in the 1920s and was the most popular baseball player ever. He changed how people play baseball and has a lasting impression on the game today.
Walter Johnson began pitching in Major League baseball in 1907 and was one of the best pitchers in history. Johnson “ delivered the ball faster than any other pitcher before him – and perhaps than any has since.”(16) Walter Johnson struck out 3 ,508 batters in his career and he has the record for most shutout , 110. He won 417 games in his career and won 20 or more games for ten straight years. Walter Johnson spent 21 seasons with the Washington Senators and finally won his World Championship in 1924 against Ruth and the Yankees. John pitched magically as his senators beat the Yankees in his only World Championship. Walter Johnson was one of the best pitchers in Major League history and his dominance in the 1924 brought him a World Championship.
Roger Hornsby played second base for the St. Louis Cardinals and was one of the “greatest hitters”(17) of all time. Hornsby averaged better than .400 from 1921 to 1925; had career high in 1924 with .424 , and his lifetime average of .358 is second only to Ty Cobb’s. Roger Hornsby hit for power and average. He led the National League in batting average and led his St. Louis Cardinal team to a World Series in 1926. Roger Hornsby was one of the greatest baseball players ever and dominated during his prime in the 1920s.
The decade from 1920-1930 was an another one of American League domination of the World Series. The American League won in 1920 , 1923 , 1924 , 1927 , 1928 , 1929 and , 1930. Cleveland won in 1920 , with New York winning in 1923 , 1927 and , 1928. The Athletics won in 1929 and 1930 and Washington won in 1924. The National League was able to squander victories in 1921 by a strong New York Giant team , a 1925 Pittsburgh team , and a 1926 St. Louis team under the control of Branch Rickey. Throughout the decade the American League continued to win most of the world series , thanks to big name players such as Babe Ruth , Walter Johnson , and Roger Hornsby.
In addition to the National and American Leagues from 1900-1930 , there was another league that emerged during these times , the Negro League. All African-American teams began to form at the turn of the century. They played exhibition games against white teams and other black teams. The formation of early leagues occurred but failed , although as time passed leagues formed and African -Americans could display their great skill. Rube Foster created the first black owned Negro league and it had eight teams , hailing from Kansas City , Indianapolis , Dayton , Chicago , Detroit , and St. Louis. ( 18) Foster wanted to “ keep Colored baseball from the control of the whites” ( 19) and do something good for his race. Three players dominated the early Negro League , “Smokey Joe’ Williams , Bullet Joe Rogan, and Oscar Charleston. The hard throwing Williams , dominated batters and won many games. Rogan was another pitcher but used control pitches and batted clean up. Charleston was a hard hitting center fielder with tremendous speed. Four hundred thousand people came to see some of the games in Foster’s Negro League until the Great Depression hit and the league had to suspend operations entirely because of low attendance. African-American baseball from 1900-1930 was in it’s their infancy during the time period. Early in the century exhibition games were played and many players displayed much skill. Later on , the formation of Negro Leagues occurred , but in their early years could not complete with white baseball and did not take off until later in the 1930s.
The history of Baseball from 1900-1930 was a largely diverse history full of interesting information. The modern National and American leagues began play against one another in the early 20th century. Baseball began to become America’s national baseball , characterizing the country and the people who lived there. People flocked to baseball games during the time period from 1900-1930 and the game gained its identity during this time. Players became larger than life heroes and children throughout the nation emulated them. The politics of baseball reflected the times and as the country changed and grew , so did Major League baseball. Baseball also reflected America’s small but growing acceptance of the African Americans in their Negro teams and leagues. The game of baseball is a very diverse sport that has various qualities that attract all sorts of people to it.