1920 Major League Baseball season

The 1920 Major League Baseball season, was the first to be presided over by the newly created office of Baseball Commissioner. In the wake of the Black Sox scandal, the credibility of baseball had been tarnished with the public and fans and the owners of the teams clamored for credibility to be restored. A three-person National Commission ran the major and minor leagues – composed of the American League President, National League President, and one team owner – but the owners felt that creating one position with near-unlimited authority was the answer. In the World Series, the Cleveland Indians triumphed over the Brooklyn Robins, 5–2.

1920 MLB season
LeagueMajor League Baseball
DurationApril 14 – October 12, 1920
Pennant Winners
AL championsCleveland Indians
NL championsBrooklyn Dodgers
World Series
ChampionsCleveland Indians
  Runners-upBrooklyn Robins

Regular season standings

American League W L Pct. GB Home Road
Cleveland Indians 98 56 0.636 51–27 47–29
Chicago White Sox 96 58 0.623 2 52–25 44–33
New York Yankees 95 59 0.617 3 49–28 46–31
St. Louis Browns 76 77 0.497 21½ 40–38 36–39
Boston Red Sox 72 81 0.471 25½ 41–35 31–46
Washington Senators 68 84 0.447 29 37–38 31–46
Detroit Tigers 61 93 0.396 37 32–46 29–47
Philadelphia Athletics 48 106 0.312 50 25–50 23–56
National League W L Pct. GB Home Road
Brooklyn Robins 93 61 0.604 49–29 44–32
New York Giants 86 68 0.558 7 45–35 41–33
Cincinnati Reds 82 71 0.536 10½ 42–34 40–37
Pittsburgh Pirates 79 75 0.513 14 42–35 37–40
St. Louis Cardinals 75 79 0.487 18 38–38 37–41
Chicago Cubs 75 79 0.487 18 43–34 32–45
Boston Braves 62 90 0.408 30 36–37 26–53
Philadelphia Phillies 62 91 0.405 30½ 32–45 30–46


American League

Team Manager Comments
Boston Red Sox Ed Barrow
Chicago White Sox Kid Gleason
Cleveland Indians Tris Speaker
Detroit Tigers Hughie Jennings
New York Yankees Miller Huggins
Philadelphia Athletics Connie Mack
St. Louis Browns Jimmy Burke
Washington Senators Clark Griffith

National League

Team Manager Comments
Boston Braves George Stallings
Brooklyn Robins Wilbert Robinson
Chicago Cubs Fred Mitchell
Cincinnati Reds Pat Moran
New York Giants John McGraw
Philadelphia Phillies Gavvy Cravath
Pittsburgh Pirates George Gibson
St. Louis Cardinals Branch Rickey

Creation of the office of the Commissioner of Baseball

Persisting rumors of the Chicago White Sox throwing the previous year's World Series to the Cincinnati Reds and another game during the 1920 season led to the game's brass looking for ways of dealing with the problems of gambling within the sport. At the time, MLB was governed by a three-man National Commission composed of American League President Ban Johnson, National League President John Heydler and Cincinnati Reds owner Garry Herrmann. At the request of the other owners, Herrmann left the office reducing the Commission to be deadlocked by two. With the owners disliking one or both presidents, calls began for stronger leadership, although they opined they could support the continuation of the leagues' presidencies with a well-qualified Commissioner.[1]

A plan that began to circulate and gain support was dubbed the "Lasker Plan," after Albert Lasker, a shareholder of the Chicago Cubs, called for a three-man commission with no financial interest in baseball. With the Black Sox scandal exposed on September 30, 1920, Heydler began calling for the Lasker Plan. All eight NL teams supported the plan, along with three AL teams. The three AL teams were the White Sox, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.[2] The teams in support of the Lasker Plan wanted federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to take the office of Baseball Commissioner. Johnson, who opposed the plan and thus, the appointment of Landis, had allies the other five AL clubs, and attempted to get Minor League Baseball to side with him. However, the minor leagues would not, and when the AL teams learned their position, they relented and instead went along with the Lasker Plan.[3] The owners agreed that they needed a person with near-unlimited authority and a powerful person to fill the position of commissioner.[4]

The owners approached Landis, and eventually accepted the position as the first Commissioner of Baseball.[5] He drafted the agreement which gave him almost unlimited authority throughout the major and minor leagues – every owner on down to the batboys was accountable to the Commissioner – including barring owners from dismissing him, speaking critically of him in public or challenging him in court.[6] He also kept his job as a federal judge. Of course, a near autocratic leader was probably what was needed for baseball at the time as the Black Sox scandal had placed the public's trust in baseball on shaky ground as the owners accepted the terms of the agreement with a scant trace of opposition, if any.[7]

Effect of the Black Sox scandal on the AL pennant race

After an August 31 game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs, allegations began to arise that the game was fixed. The state court in Chicago opened a grand jury to investigate gambling within baseball. Gambler Billy Maharg came forward with information that he worked with New York gambler Arnold Rothstein and former boxer Abe Attell to get the White Sox to throw the 1919 World Series.[8] The White Sox again were contending for the American League title and were in a near-dead heat with the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. However, on September 28, eight White Sox players were indicted and suspended by owner Charlie Comiskey.[9] The Indians pulled ahead and won the pennant by two games over the White Sox.[10]

External links


  1. ^ Spink, pp. 54–55.
  2. ^ Cottrell, p. 243.
  3. ^ Cottrell, pp. 236–237.
  4. ^ Cottrell, pp. 239–240.
  5. ^ Cottrell, p. 244.
  6. ^ Cottrell, p. 247.
  7. ^ Watson, Bruce. "The judge who ruled baseball". Smithsonian, Volume 31, Number 7, October 2000, pp. 120–132.
  8. ^ Pietrusza, p. 160.
  9. ^ Cottrell, pp. 221–223.
  10. ^ Cottrell, p. 227.


  • Cottrell, Robert C. (2002). Blackball, the Black Sox, and the Babe. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-7-86411-643-6.
  • Pietrusza, David (1998). Judge and Jury: The Life and Times of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. South Bend, Indiana: Diamond Communications. ISBN 978-1-888698-09-1.
  • Spink, J. G. Taylor (1974). Judge Landis and 25 Years of Baseball (revised ed.). St. Louis: The Sporting News Publishing Company. ASIN B0006CGPF6.
1920 Boston Braves season

The 1920 Boston Braves season was the 50th season of the franchise.

1920 Boston Red Sox season

The 1920 Boston Red Sox season was the 20th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fifth in the American League (AL) with a record of 72 wins and 81 losses.

1920 Brooklyn Robins season

The 1920 Brooklyn Robins, also known as the Dodgers, won 16 of their final 18 games to pull away from a tight pennant race and earn a trip to their second World Series against the Cleveland Indians. They lost the series in seven games.

The team featured four Hall of Famers: manager Wilbert Robinson, pitchers Burleigh Grimes and Rube Marquard, and outfielder Zack Wheat. Grimes anchored a pitching staff that allowed the fewest runs in the majors.

1920 Chicago Cubs season

The 1920 Chicago Cubs season was the 49th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 45th in the National League and the 5th at Wrigley Field (then known as "Weeghman/Cubs Park"). The Cubs finished sixth in the National League with a record of 75–79.

1920 Chicago White Sox season

The 1920 Chicago White Sox season was a season in American baseball. The team was in contention to defend their American League pennant going into the final week of the season. However, for all intents and purposes, the season ended on September 26, when news of the Black Sox Scandal became public. Owner Charles Comiskey suspended the five players who were still active (the sixth, ringleader Chick Gandil, opted to retire after the 1919 season). At that time, the White Sox were only a half-game behind the Cleveland Indians, but went 2–2 over their last four games to finish two games out. They would not finish in the first division again until 1936.

1920 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1920 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished third in the National League with a record of 82–71, 10½ games behind the Brooklyn Robins.

1920 Cleveland Indians season

The 1920 Cleveland Indians season was the 20th season in franchise history. The Indians won the American League pennant and proceeded to win their first World Series title in the history of the franchise. Pitchers Jim Bagby, Stan Coveleski and Ray Caldwell combined to win 75 games. Despite the team's success, the season was perhaps more indelibly marked by the death of starting shortstop Ray Chapman, who died after being hit by a pitch on August 17.

1920 Detroit Tigers season

The 1920 Detroit Tigers season was a season in American baseball. The team finished seventh in the American League with a record of 61–93, 37 games behind the Cleveland Indians.

1920 New York Giants season

The 1920 New York Giants season was the franchise's 38th season. The team finished in second place in the National League with an 86-68 record, 7 games behind the Brooklyn Robins.

1920 New York Yankees season

The 1920 New York Yankees season was the 18th season for the Yankees in New York and their 20th overall. The team finished with a record of 95–59, just 3 games behind the American League champion Cleveland Indians. New York was managed by Miller Huggins. Home games were played at the Polo Grounds. The Yankees of 1920 were the first team in the history of Major League Baseball to have an attendance of more than one million fans.

1920 Philadelphia Athletics season

The 1920 Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing 8th in the American League with a record of 48 wins and 106 losses.

1920 Philadelphia Phillies season

The following lists the events of the 1920 Philadelphia Phillies season.

1920 Pittsburgh Pirates season

The 1920 Pittsburgh Pirates season was the 39th in franchise history; the 34th in the National League.

1920 St. Louis Browns season

The 1920 St. Louis Browns season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Browns finishing 4th in the American League with a record of 76 wins and 77 losses.

1920 St. Louis Cardinals season

The 1920 St. Louis Cardinals season was the team's 39th season in St. Louis, Missouri and the 29th season in the National League. The Cardinals went 75–79 during the season and finished 5th in the National League.

1920 Washington Senators season

The 1920 Washington Senators won 68 games, lost 84, and finished in sixth place in the American League. They were managed by Clark Griffith and played home games at Griffith Stadium.

1920 World Series

In the 1920 World Series, the Cleveland Indians beat the Brooklyn Dodgers, then known interchangeably as the Robins in reference to their manager Wilbert Robinson, in seven games, five games to two. This series was a best-of-nine series, like the first World Series in 1903 and the World Series of 1919 and 1921. The only World Series triple play, the first World Series grand slam and the first World Series home run by a pitcher all occurred in Game 5 of this Series. The Indians won the series in memory of their former shortstop Ray Chapman, who had been killed earlier in the season when struck in the head by a pitched ball.

The triple play was unassisted and turned by Cleveland's Bill Wambsganss in Game 5. Wambsganss, playing second base, caught a line drive off the bat of Clarence Mitchell, stepped on second base to put out Pete Kilduff, and tagged Otto Miller coming from first base. It was the second of fifteen (as of 2016) unassisted triple plays in major-league baseball history, and it remains the only one in postseason play. Mitchell made history again in the eighth inning by hitting into a double play, accounting for five outs in two straight at-bats.

The fifth game also saw the first grand slam in World Series history (hit by Cleveland's Elmer Smith) and the first Series home run by a pitcher (Cleveland's Jim Bagby, Sr.). And in that same game, Brooklyn outhit Cleveland but lost 8–1.

Cleveland had won the American League pennant in a close race with the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees. The Sox's participation in the Black Sox Scandal the previous year had caught up to them late in the season, and their star players were suspended with three games left in the season, when they were in a virtual tie with the Indians. The Yankees, with their recently acquired star Babe Ruth, were almost ready to start their eventual World Series dynasty. For Cleveland, it would prove to be one of their few successes in a long history of largely either poor or not-quite-good enough clubs.

It is notable that all seven games of the 1920 World Series were won by the team who scored first. In fact, Game 4 was the only game in which the losing team scored a run before the winning team had scored all of its runs. The lead never changed hands in any game.

This would be the last World Series until 1980 to feature two franchises that had not previously won a championship.

Run batted in

A run batted in (RBI), plural runs batted in (RBI or RBIs), is a statistic in baseball and softball that credits a batter for making a play that allows a run to be scored (except in certain situations such as when an error is made on the play). For example, if the batter bats a base hit, then another player on a higher base can head home to score a run, and the batter gets credited with batting in that run.

Before the 1920 Major League Baseball season, runs batted in were not an official baseball statistic. Nevertheless, the RBI statistic was tabulated—unofficially—from 1907 through 1919 by baseball writer Ernie Lanigan, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.Common nicknames for an RBI include "ribby" (or "ribbie"), "rib", and "ribeye". The plural of RBI is generally "RBIs", although some commentators use "RBI" as both singular and plural, as it can also stand for "runs batted in".

The Pitch That Killed

The Pitch That Killed: Carl Mays, Ray Chapman and the Pennant Race of 1920 is a non-fiction baseball book written by Mike Sowell and published in 1989. The book concentrates on the 1920 major league season, especially the events surrounding Ray Chapman's death from a pitch thrown by Carl Mays.

It won the CASEY Award for best baseball book of 1989 and was selected as a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year."

Mike Sowell's book has been optioned by Come Aboard Productions. The production company is in development on a feature film based on the story from The Pitch That Killed.

1920 MLB season by team
American League
National League
Pre-modern era
Modern era
See also

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