Kennesaw Mountain Landis’ name will be removed from the US and National League MVP trophies after 75 years of etching on the plaques given to the players who were named the best in baseball.
Baseball Writers ‘Association of America said Friday that the decision came after 89% of members voted to remove Landis’ name.
“We will no longer be associated with the Landis name, and MVP plaques will be nameless by 2020,” wrote BBWAA President Paul Sullivan. “Hopefully when a certain sense of normality returns in 2021, we can have a healthy debate about whether to add a new name or just let it be the BBWAA MVP award.”
Barry Larkin, who originally said he was uncomfortable with Landis’ name on the plaques, told the Associated Press he was pleased with the decision.
“For me, the MVP award should be something positive,” said the NL MVP winner in 1995. “There should not be a cloud over it.
“I was always aware of the name Landis and what it meant to slow down the color line in Major League Baseball. I think the MVP honor stands alone. It does not need a name. ”
Landis became the first baseball commissioner 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.
Reps. Gil Cisneros, D-California 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 in August, asking the league and journalists to reconsider the name of the prestigious the awards.
“We recognize that Commissioner Landis ‘namesake in the award is the result of his role in creating the system by which the Baseball Writers’ Association of America selects each league’s MVP recipient,” the letter read.
“Given that Commissioner Landis continued the ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ of baseball to keep black players out of the major leagues, we agree that it is time to remove his name from the award and move towards a more inclusive award designation.”
Landi’s legacy is “always a complicated story” that includes “documented racism,” said official MLB historian John Thorn in July.
Every AL and NL MVP plaque since Landis’ death has borne his name – with letters twice the size of the winner – and an imprint of his face. Landis gave BBWAA control over picking and presenting the MVPs in 1931. Landis’ name has been on the plaques for 75 years, but it is not promised to remain there under the BBWAA constitution. A vote on membership could lead to a redesign at the end of the coronavirus-delayed 60-game season starting in three weeks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.