Former MVPs want 1st MLB commissioner removed from plaques
Rich Pilling / Major League Baseball / Getty

Several former players are calling for Major League Baseball to remove Kenesaw Mountain Landis' name from its annual MVP award plaques.

Landis, MLB's first commissioner, was hired in 1920 to clean up a widespread gambling problem, but his legacy remains tied to the color barrier that he helped uphold.

"If you're looking to expose individuals in baseball's history who promoted racism by continuing to close baseball's doors to men of color, Kenesaw Landis would be a candidate," Philadelphia Phillies great Mike Schmidt said, according to Ben Walker of The Associated Press.

Schmidt won three MVP awards over the course of his 18-year career, and he said he'd happily have the engraving of Landis' name removed from all three of his plaques.

Terry Pendleton, who is Black, won the NL MVP in 1991 with the Atlanta Braves, and he echoed Schmidt's sentiments that a change is long overdue.

"Statues are coming down, people are looking at monuments and memorials," Pendleton said. "We need to get to the bottom of things, to do what’s right. Yes, maybe it is time to change the name.

"I've always thought about that, why is that still on there? No doubt, MVP stands on its own. It doesn't need a name."

Former Cincinnati Reds shortstop - and 1995 MVP - Barry Larkin and current Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker are also critical of Landis' inclusion on the plaque.

Near the end of his tenure, Landis apparently informed owners they could sign Black players, but no evidence suggests he actively pushed for integration, Walker notes.

Landis' name has been featured on the award every year since 1944.

Former MVPs want 1st MLB commissioner removed from plaques
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