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The Story

The Year 1919

The Ballplayers

Then and Now

Survey
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he game of baseball changed dramatically after the Black Sox Scandal. Beginning in 1920, two rule changes went into effect. The first was the outlawing of trick pitches such as the spit ball and shine ball. Although a handful of pitchers were still allowed to continue to throw these pitches legally, all other means of defacing the ball were disallowed. All umpires were given instruction to strictly enforce this rule.

Partially in response to the fatal beaning of Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman in mid-August 1920, the increased substitution of clean baseballs was the second change to take place. Chapman, who was unable to dodge a worn, discolored ball became the only on field casuality in Major League Baseball history.

Around this same time period, the equiptment used to play the game changed as well. Using a higher quality yarn and automatic winders, a new cork centered ball was created. It traveled faster and further than it's previous counterpart, the "deadball."

The thick handled, heavier bats used for the "slash-and-run" style of play during the "deadball era" gave way to the thinner, lighter models. The result was more bat speed and an increase in homeruns.


The baseball establishment also did away with the three-man National Commission when it appointed Federal Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis as Commissioner on November 12,1920. During
Landis tenure as Commissioner, a no gambling rule (Rule 21) was adopted and strictly enforced.

Even with all of these changes taking place, one issue remained unchanged: the reserve clause. In 1922, the United States Supreme Court ruled that "baseball was indeed a business, but putting on baseball games for profit was not trade or commerce in the commonly accepted use of those words." In essence, baseball
could govern itself on the issue of player contracts. The reserve clause would remain in effect until 1975.

With help from the players union, the Curt Flood case of 1970 and the McNally-Messersmith cases in the mid-1970's, the reserve
clause would finally give way to a new, free agency market.

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