This Day in Baseball History: May 6th, 1929

Lou Gehrig, the winner in 1927, was good, just not Babe Ruth good.

On May 6, 1929:

The American League decided to ban the MVP Award.

The original MVP Award was the Chalmers Award (more on this later). Hugh Chalmers began an award as a way to advertise his vehicles while taking advantage of baseball’s increasing popularity, but by 1914, he didn’t really care about baseball anymore. For the next eight years, no one was awarded an MVP Award. In 1922, the American League decided to start giving out its own award to the most valuable player in its league, but it was a bit different from today.

Only one player from each team was chosen to go to the final vote in order to avoid splitting votes (an interesting idea considering the Pedroia/Youkilis and Mauer/Morneau arguments last season). Another aspect was a bit more controversial. There could be no repeat winners. Go ahead and look at Babe Ruth’s B-R.com page. Ever wonder why his 1927 season wasn’t selected as an MVP season? It was because of this rule, which led a New York Times writer to bemoan, “the purpose, of course, is to pass the honor around, but the effect is to pass an empty honor around.”

Of course, the National League had to react, but it took them a bit. In 1924, they had seen the popularity of giving these awards, and they wanted their own. But they had to top the American League, and they did so with a $1,000 bonus. They also didn’t want the same rules. Repeat winners and player-managers (ineligible in the AL) could win the award, and 10 players (not determined by team) could be voted on.

So why did the AL stop? For a few reasons. One, the Babe Ruth story caused considerable outrage, and the award had little credibility left. Two, considering baseball’s popularity, the MLB wanted something more permanent and gaudy attached to the award, but when Ban Johnson tried to secure a monument in Washington, D.C., he was turned down. Three and probably the most important, players were using this as a way to improve salaries. As soon as that happened, the award had to go. The NL followed suit but awarded one anyway in 1929. In response, the Baseball Writers Association of America began its own award, leading to the “debates” of today.

Trivia Time
Name the only repeat winner of the NL MVP Award from 1924-1929.

Yesterday’s Answer –> In order, Bobby Cox, Casey Stengel (sorry Ian and Ron), and Joe Torre.

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One Response to “This Day in Baseball History: May 6th, 1929”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    Rogers Hornsby.

    I was going to say Stengal and talked myself out of it because of the expanded playoffs.

    Always trust your first instinct.

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