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A.B. "Happy" Chandler

1945-51


Happy Chandler arrived in the Commissioner's office at the right time; otherwise, Jackie Robinson might never have played in the major leagues for many years and African Americans would have had to wait even longer. Judge Landis wanted no part of an integrated league, and 15 of the 16 teams disapproved of it. Chandler, on the other hand, welcomed the move and history was made!

A former Senator from Kentucky, Chandler was well aware of controversy about breaking baseball's racial barriers; he just felt it was the right thing to do. He hardly could have anticipated the controversy he would be embroiled in during his second year of tenure, however.

A feud had developed between New York Yankees President Larry MacPhail and Dodgers officials, including Branch Rickey and manager Leo Durocher. MacPhail had signed Dodgers coaches Chuck Dressen and John Corriden while they were still employed by the Dodgers. Meanwhile, Durocher actively sought the Yankee managerial position while still employed by the Dodgers.

Before Opening Day, the Commissioner suspended Durocher for the entire season for "conduct detrimental to baseball" for his association with gamblers. Chandler also suspended Dressen for 30 days and both the Dodgers and Yankees $2,000 each. On a more positive note for the 1947 season, Chandler was instrumental in beginning the player pension fund, using proceeds from MLB's radio broadcasting contract.