NEW YORK – Something still bothers Barry Larkin about his Most Valuable Player award.
The other name engraved on the trophy: Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
“Why is it on there?” said Larkin, the Black shortstop voted National League MVP in 1995 with the Cincinnati Reds.
“I was always aware of his name and what that meant to slowing the color line in Major League Baseball, of the racial injustice and inequality that Black players had to go through,” the Hall of Famer said this week.
Hired in 1920 as the sport’s first commissioner to help clean up rampant gambling, Landis and his legacy are “always a complicated story” that includes “documented racism,” official MLB historian John Thorn said.
This much is true, in black and white: No Blacks played in the majors during his quarter-century tenure. Jackie Robinson broke the barrier in April 1947, about 2 1/2 years after Landis died.
"Landis is a part of history, even though it was a dark history,” Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
Fact is, few fans realize Landis’ name is plastered all over the Most Valuable Player trophies. Most people just call it the MVP.