Jan 5, 1864
|D: Mar 28, 1931
St. Louis, Missouri
|President -Western League
Biography / Info
- Ban was the founder of the American
League, He served as President of the league from 1900 to
- Graduated from Marietta College of
Ohio in 1887. The husky man played catcher on the school's
- Took a job as a sportswriter for the Cincinnati Commercial-Gazette and formed a friendly
relationship with Reds manager Charles Comiskey. The two
engaged in conversations about the future of baseball and
maybe someday another major league to rival the established,
yet somewhat chaotic National League.
- In 1893, the Western League, a minor
league in operation since 1879, folded. With the blessing of
Comiskey and others, Ban took a one year leave of absence
from the newspaper to try to revive the defunct eight team
- Comiskey was fired by the Reds and
in 1895 took over the Sioux City team. Soon, another man was
convinced by Johnson to join the rebuilding league as an
owner. The man's name was Connie Mack.
- After several key franchise moves to more attractive
venues, the Western League was officially renamed to the
American League on October 11, 1899.
- The league reflected its leader and
unlike other leagues was organized and ran with dignity.
There was no liquor at the parks, no profanity on the field
and the umpires were the ultimate authority.
- After the 1900 season, and still
running as a minor league system, Johnson wanted to raise
his league to a major league status..By waiving the 2400
dollar player salary, he was able to lure over 100 players
to the new league. The National League, however still
refused to acknowledge the league.
- Finally, by 1903, The National
League agreed to recognize the league as a major league. In
turn, Ban Johnson helped draft the National Agreement of
Professional Baseball covering both leagues. Thus the birth
of the National Commission, a group of three men overseeing
the business of baseball. Johnson was by far the most
- Under his watch, the American League grew dramatically in
popularity over the next 15 years, snagging dozens of future
Hall of Famers.
- Johnson's bad break came after the 1919 Chicago
"Black" Sox scandal rocked the baseball world. He
pressed on an investigation against several players
conspiring to throw World Series games. This ended his long
time friendship with White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, as
Comiskey insisted there were no wrongdoing by his players.
Opposition to the investigation grew and the club owners
decided to replace the 3 man National Commission with an independent
baseball commissioner. The move was also devised to restore
the integrity of the game itself.
- Johnson was snubbed for the position and they selected
Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a man who had no previous
connection to the game.
- With Landis ruling the game, Ban's health declined and his
spirits left him. In 1920, the American League was about to
enter its finest era, but Johnson felt he was no longer
running the show.
- He stayed on as American League President until July of
1927 and hastily resigned when the owners decided to strip
him of his powers, even though he could retain his title of
President. It all stemmed from a supposed late season fixing
of a Indians/Red Sox game in 1919 by Ty Cobb and Tris
Speaker. The case crumbled and Johnson's
competency became questioned.
- Under contract until 1935, Johnson was still entitled to
$320,000 in salary. He refused to take the money for a job
he would not be able to do.
- He retired with his wife to Spencer, Indiana. Johnson died
of diabetes in 1931 at St. John's Hospital in St. Louis.
Hall of Fame
- Was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.