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Yankee4Life

Baseball's history and little known facts (Part 2)

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I am not a historical expert in baseball and I don't pretend to be so let me put that assumption to rest. The people that work down in Cooperstown are the real pros here. All I know is what I have read in books and what I have read there I have retained because I have a very good memory. I've read a lot of baseball books in my life and I especially like the ones that deal with the history of the game. Since I was a kid and right up until this day I have made a habit of reading many baseball books over the winter. That was the best way I knew how to make the winter months go by until opening day. The following is what I learned from those books concerning KC's post in the chatbox that he wrote last night.

    

Quote

Interesting discovery today: Apparently Babe Ruth was blackballed by MLB teams for managerial roles after his playing career was over in fear that he would recruit black ball players on any team he managed


Babe Ruth was in a sense blackballed from a managerial job because of two reasons. First, because of how he conducted himself as a player. The complaint was how could Ruth be expected to manage a ballclub when he could not even manage himself? Secondly and just as important it was because of the interference of his wife Claire, who was from all accounts that I have read an overbearing and controlling person. Ruth was given the opportunity to manage the Yankees top minor league farm team in Newark, New Jersey but his wife talked him out of it saying that "Babe Ruth does not ride busses" and that Ty Cobb never had to manage in the minor leagues so why should he? I came to the conclusion in all the things that I read that they were more worried about Ruth's wife and the trouble she'd bring than Ruth himself since they've been dealing with Ruth and his exploits since he came up in 1914.

 

Ruth's name was mentioned in a few big-league manager spots but nothing really came of it. His best chance however came in Philadelphia where Connie Mack was considering stepping down as the Athletics manager. Right here was the closest Ruth got to a manager's job in the big leagues but in the end Mack decided not to hire him because he felt Ruth's wife would interfere too much.

 

Before the 1935 season Ruth was sold to the Boston Braves and he was told that he would be the team's vice president and assistant manager to Bill McKetchnie along with being a player. Ruth quickly realized that he was a vice president and assistant manager in name only and by the end of May of that year the situation was so bad for him that he voluntarily retired. His final chance wearing a big-league uniform was in 1938 when Larry McPhail hired him to coach first base for the Dodgers. McPhail at least was honest with Ruth when he informed him that he wasn't going to be considered for the manager's spot if current manager Burleigh Grimes retired. (Grimes did just that and Leo Durocher was named manager for 1939 and remained the Brooklyn manager until 1948.) Ruth's job was to coach first, take batting practice, hit some home runs and wave to the fans. Durocher, after being named manager, did not retain Ruth's services as a coach and after 1938 he was out of baseball for good.

 

This is what I know about Ruth being blackballed. Now how he felt about black players was in all accounts positive. Back in those days after the season was completed the players would go on barnstorming tours to make extra money. Many times Ruth would play against some of the best black ballplayers of the day and he constantly said they were just as good as the white players. Ruth used to be teased by opposing players who accused him of having some black roots in him. When the book Tarzan of the Apes came out he was called that by the opposition. First he thought it was a compliment until someone took him aside and clued him in. Pretty soon around the league that stopped. He was also called "Nigg** Lips" because of the size of his lips. That was another reason why the other bench jockeys from the other seven teams in the league swore he was part black, a fact that Ruth himself denied repeatedly.

 

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That being said I have never read that he did not get a manager's job because baseball was afraid that he would recruit them to be on his team. I am not saying this never happened, but what I am saying is that this was not what baseball owners were worried about concerning Ruth. Why? Because of three words. Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

 

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Landis did not want black players in baseball. Not under his watch. Bill Veeck (former Indians, Browns, White Sox and then later on White Sox again owner) learned that the hard way. A few years before Landis died the Phillies were for sale and Veeck almost bought them. He had the money in place and an unwritten agreement in place to buy the team. Here is where Veeck made his mistake. He informed Landis that once he became owner of the team he was going to load his roster with Negro League players. Before Veeck arrived in Philadelphia to finalize things however he learned that while on his way there the National League took over the team (similar to what MLB did to the Expos during their final years) until a new owner could be found.

 

It was not until four year later that Veeck became an owner when he purchased the Cleveland Indians in 1946. The very next year he signed Larry Doby as the first black player in the American League. He was able to do this since Landis died in 1944.

 

I hope this clears some things up. It's obvious Ruth wasn't given much of a chance after his playing days were done.

 

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