Year In Review : 1920 American League
Off the field...
After several decades, the Nineteenth Amendment was finally added to the Constitution granting nation-wide suffrage to women. Initiated in 1890 by the merger of the rival women's rights organizations into the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), the feminist movement's priority was to push for the ratification of enough state suffrage amendments to force Congress to approve a federal amendment declaring women's rights. Despite some radical factions that continued to address corollary issues, NAWSA's new approach focused the group's energies exclusively on recruiting new members and winning the vote for women.
In the American League...
On January 5th, the New York Yankees officially announced the purchase of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox. The disgruntled pitcher had been unable to reach a contract agreement and was eventually sold to Colonel Jacob Ruppert for $100,000 (plus a loan collateralized by Fenway Park). Later, his .376 batting average, fifty-four home runs and one-hundred thirty-seven runs batted in would generate an attendance of 1,289,422 fans in his first year and lead to the construction of Yankee Stadium.
The Detroit Tigers lost their first thirteen games tying the Major League mark for consecutive losses (at the start of a season) set by the 1904 Washington Senators.
Tragedy struck the Cleveland Indians organization after twenty-nine year-old shortstop Ray Chapman was beaned in the head by a Carl Mays pitch and died the following day from a fractured skull.
In the National League...
A plan originally developed by Brooklyn Dodgers owner Charles Ebbets many years ago was finally adopted with the annual drafting of players from the Minor Leagues taking place in reverse order of each teams' final standings.
Several hours before the start of Game 4, Brooklyn Robins standout Rube Marquard (a Cleveland native), was arrested after attempting to sell a World Series ticket to an undercover police officer for $350. Marquard was later found guilty and ordered to pay a fine and court costs totaling $3.80. Adding insult to injury, his hometown opponents went on to win the game 5-1.
On December 15th, the National League revealed a startling statistic by reporting the use of 27,924 baseballs during the season, which represented an increase of 10,248 over 1919.
Around the league...
The Joint Rules Committee voted to ban the use of all foreign substances (saliva, resin, talcum powder, paraffin) as well as any other alterations (shine or emery) to balls by pitchers. As a result, the American League opted to allow two pitchers from each club the option to use a spitball for one more season. The Nationals set no limitations as long as all "practicing" pitchers were identified and any other pitcher who was caught cheating would be suspended for a minimum of ten days.
Lou Gehrig (a junior at New York City's School of Commerce) was introduced to the nation after hitting a grand slam out of Wrigley Field during a high school championship game against Lane Tech on June 26th.
The 1919 World Series sparked a major controversy amid rumors of a gambling fix. Eight members of the participating Chicago White Sox were all charged with conspiring to throw the Fall Classic against the Cincinnati Reds. After a lengthy investigation and highly publicized trial (lasting until 1921), the "Black Sox" were acquitted despite their own confessions. Throughout the 1920 season, the league offices were constantly denying accusations from the press that professional baseball itself was in on the take and made every effort to assure the fans that the 1919 scandal was an isolated incident.