1921 Ty Cobb and Judge Landis Photo - First Meeting Between the Two!

Sold For: $823

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1419

Item Year: 1921

Category: The Golden Age of Baseball Photography

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Vintage original press photo, culled from The Detroit News archives, capturing Hall of Famer outfielder Ty Cobb posing with Commissioner of Baseball Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. According to the period pencil notations on the reverse, this was an historic meeting between the two legendary figures: "Judge Landis meets Ty Cobb - It was the first time that the Georgian met the famed Chicago jurist and supreme chief of base ball." The date stamp "Apr 29 1921" also appears on the reverse. Research indicates that Detroit was in St. Louis for the start of a four-game series on April 29, 1921, which is where this photo was probably taken (Cobb is wearing a road uniform). This is a photo of great significance as Cobb and Landis will forever be linked in baseball history by future events. Landis was named Commissioner of Baseball on November 12, 1920, in direct response to the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal, the full details of which had come to light that season. Landis wielded a heavy hand during his early reign, banning not only all eight of the alleged White Sox conspirators for life, but many others as well, often for less serious violations. Although Cobb seems pleased in meeting Landis here, their relationship soured quickly. In 1926 both Cobb and Tris Speaker were accused by former pitcher Dutch Leonard of having "fixed" a game in 1919. After hearing the allegations, American League president Ban Johnson insisted that Cobb and Speaker retire immediately. Because of the stature of both Cobb and Speaker, and the seriousness of the allegations, the American League owners decided that the matter be brought before Landis, who, after studying the facts, announced that the two stars were "permitted to resign." As news of the scandal was made public, Cobb, who always proclaimed his innocence in the matter, became more determined than ever to clear his name. Cobb had many friends in politics and was prepared to use all the influence at his disposal in order to reverse Landis' decision. In deference to Cobb's status and the mounting public sentiment favoring the two players, Landis was forced to reopen the case. Following a hearing on the matter, and after speaking with all parties involved, Landis cited a lack of evidence and publicly exonerated both Cobb and Speaker of any wrong doing. (Dutch Leonard refused to leave California to testify in the matter and it has always been rumored that his sudden reticence in the matter was because of his fear of what Cobb might do to him if he showed up in person.) Despite the ruling, Cobb always always felt that he had been mistreated by Landis in the matter and held a longtime grudge against him. Even years later, at the 1939 dedication of the Baseball Hall of Fame, at which Landis was the master of ceremonies, Cobb arrived late on purpose just so he didn't have to shake the commissioner's hand or have his picture taken with him. The photo (8 x 10 inches) has a number of very minor flaws common to nearly all working press photos, including a few light creases and tiny edge tears. Very Good to Excellent condition. Reserve $200. Estimate $400+. SOLD FOR $823

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