February 1920

9th  The Joint Rules Committee bans all foreign substances or other alterations to the ball by pitchers, including saliva, resin, talcum powder, paraffin, and the shine and emery ball. A pitcher caught cheating will be suspended for 10 days. The AL allows each club to name just 2 pitchers who will be allowed to use the pitch for one more season. The NL allows each club to name all its spitball pitchers. No pitchers other than those designated will be permitted to use it, and none at all after 1920 (though this will be changed in December). The list of grandfathered spitballers will include Red Faber (White Sox), (Doc Ayers and Dutch Leonard (Tigers), Ray Caldwell and Stan Coveleski (Indians), Bill Doak (Cardinals), Phil Douglas (Giants), Dana Fillingim (Braves), Ray Fisher (Reds), Marv Goodwin (Cardinals), Burleigh Grimes and Clarence Mitchell (Dodgers), Jack Quinn (Yankees), Dick Rudolph (Braves), Allen Russell (Red Sox), Urban Shocker and Allen Sothoron (Browns). Only Ray Fisher will not pitch after 1920. Fisher signs with the Reds for 1921 but then elects to coach the baseball team at the University of Michigan. When he decides to return for the 1922 season, he will discover that he is banned for life for not giving the Reds a 10-day notice of his leaving.

Other rules changes: the adoption of writer Fred Lieb’s proposal that a game-winning HR with men on base be counted as a HR even if its run is not needed to win the game. Also, the intentional walk is banned, and everything that happens in a protested game will go in the records. From 1910 to 1919, records in protested games were excluded.

The Cards announce the first trade of the meetings. They acquire 1B Jack Fournier from the Los Angeles Angels for 4 players, all acquired earlier. LA gets 1B Art Griggs, C Grover Hartley, P Claud Thomas, and INF Jim McAuley.

10th  At a joint meeting in Chicago, all bleacher prices are raised to 50 cents, pavilion to 75 cents, and grandstand to $1.00. Clubs may set aside bleacher space for kids under 14 at 15 and 25 cents if they wish. The May 15th–August 30th player limits are raised from 21 to 25. The AL prohibits player transfers after July 1st; the NL, after August 20th.

Lee Magee, “wanting to make a clean breast of things,” admits to NL Prexy Heydler and Cubs head William Veeck that he tried to “toss” a game with the Braves when he was with the Reds, but that the Reds won in the 13th. Heydler will later testify on June 8th that Magee told him he became suspicious that Hal Chase had double-crossed him and so he stopped payment on the check.

12th  Frank “Home Run” Baker’s wife, Ottalee, dies at 31, leaving 2 small children. Baker will miss the entire season to stay home and take care of the children, although reports in late March say that he will change his mind and rejoin the team in May. He returns in 1921 to hit .294. Baker also missed the 1915 season, preferring to hold out rather than sign with the A’s.

In a defeat for AL president Johnson, Carl Mays is reinstated, and the Yankees’ 3rdplace finish is recognized. Furthermore, a two man committee is appointed to review all fines over $100 and suspensions of more than 10 days. Dissatisfaction with the National Commission system comes to a head. The NL votes 6–2 for a one-man commission; the AL votes 6–2 for the status quo. Chairman Garry Herrmann resigns, stating his belief that no club owner should serve on the governing board. When the 2 leagues cannot agree on a chairman, it is left to the league presidents to decide disputes.

13th  In a 2-day meeting in Kansas City, the Negro National League is formed. The NNL will comprise of St. Louis Giants, the Kansas City Monarchs, the (Chicago) American Giants, the Chicago Giants, the Indianapolis ABCs, the Dayton Marcos, the Detroit Stars, and the Cuban Stars. Rube Foster is elected the league’s first president.

20th The Cubs give an unconditional release to Lee Magee after they learned a week ago from him that he had been betting against his team. Magee will sue the Cubs for his salary of $4,500 charging that his livelihood as a ball player was destroyed through the sudden canceling of his contract. The Cubs will ask for a dismissal of the suit, saying that “previous to the making of the contract the plaintiff was guilty of betting against the team of which he was a member, and sought to win bets by intentional bad playing to defeat said team.”

January 1920

5th  The Yankees announce the purchase of Babe Ruth; it had been delayed until Ruth agreed to terms believed to be $40,000 total for 2 years. (Lawrence Ritter’s The Babe, has this announcement on January 6, 11 days after the deal was consummated.)

7th  Babe Ruth reacts to the trade in the Boston Evening Transcript saying, “Frazee is not good enough to own any ball club, especially one in Boston.”

12th  A plan developed by Charles Ebbets many years ago is finally adopted: the annual drafting of players from the minor leagues will be done in inverse order to the teams’ final standings.