As Major League Baseball's first administrator, Kenesaw Mountain Landis set the stage for what a commissioner should and shouldn't be. As an acting Federal Judge from 1905-1922, Landis was selected in 1920 to become the first Commissioner of Major League Baseball, serving until his death in 1944. Born in Millville, Ohio, he was named after Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia, which was the site of a battle during the American Civil War. In 1905, he was appointed by President Roosevelt to sit on the bench of the Northern District of Illinois. During that time, he presided over several noteworthy cases including the Standard Oil antitrust trial and a series of trials accusing union leaders from the Industrial Workers of the World of espionage.
Following his appointment as head of Major League Baseball, Landis was ultimately responsible for restoring the integrity of the game in the public eye following the 1919 "Black Sox scandal" after eight members of the participating White Sox were all charged with conspiring to fix the outcome of the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. After a lengthy investigation in 1920, the members of Chicago's tainted team were amazingly acquitted the following year despite their own confessions (which were recanted later). "Regardless of the verdict of juries," the commissioner said in a statement, "no player that throws a ball game, no player that entertains proposals or promises to throw a game, no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are discussed, and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever again play professional baseball." To this day participants in the "Black Sox" conspiracy have been denied entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Despite the controversy that surrounded his twenty-four season term, Kenesaw Mountain Landis was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1944.