Interview with Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith, November 13, 1979
Project: A. B. "Happy" Chandler: Desegregation of Major League Baseball Oral History Project
Interview SummaryWalter Wellesley "Red" Smith is a sportswriter. In this interview, he talks about Chandler's reaction to a New York Herald Tribune column in 1946, Smith's first meeting with Chandler during the 1945 World Series, Chandler's dissatisfaction with some New York sportswriters, Larry MacPhail's role in Chandler's appointment as baseball commissioner, their later relationship, MacPhail's personality, MacPhail's purchase of the New York Yankees, Del Webb, Dan Topping, the Yankees' profits under George Weiss, MacPhail's decision to leave the Yankees, and his (MacPhail's) later business interests. He talks about the Ernie Stewart controversy over umpire salaries, the Danny Gardella case, Smith's first meeting with Judge Kennesaw Landis, Landis and the reserve system, Landis' relationship with team owners, the power of the commissioner's office after Landis' time, Ford Frick as baseball commissioner, William Eckert as baseball commissioner, and Bowie Kuhn as baseball commissioner. He discusses Chandler's reputation as being the "players' commissioner", the Paul Pettit or "high school rule" controversy, the threat of gambling in the major leagues, Russ Christopher and Earle Brucher, the color line in baseball, Smith's relationship with Jackie Robinson, Charlie Thomas as Branch Rickey's motivation to integrate major league baseball, and Chandler's role in the integration of baseball. He describes Connie Mack's reaction to Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, Rickey as a general manager, William DeWitt, the controversy over Smith's column regarding Larry Doby, Smith's Saturday Evening Post article about the New York Yankees, Walter O'Malley's moving the Dodgers to Los Angeles, the implications of the Mexican League raids on the St. Louis Cardinals, and Sam Breadon as owner of the Cardinals. He talks about Robert Murphy's attempt to organize a union for the players, the development of the players' pension plan, the reserve clause system, the Players League of 1890, Chandler's suspension of Leo Durocher in 1947, Bowie Kuhn and television contracts, the the St. Louis Cardinals' threatened strike against the Brooklyn Dodgers because of Jackie Robinson, Chandler and the New York media, and Muddy Ruel's relationship with Chandler. He discusses Bill Veeck as a promoter, Veeck's hiring Elston Howard as manager, Chandler's campaign to be reinstated as baseball commissioner, and his (Smith's) recollections of team owners such as Connie Mack, Tom Yawkey, Walter Briggs, Charles Comiskey, Del Webb, Dan Topping, William DeWitt, Clark Griffith, Philip Wrigley, Lou Perini, Walter O'Malley, Warren Giles, Horace Stoneham, Bob Carpenter, John Galbreath, and Fred Saigh. Other topics include the state of baseball in the decade after World War II, Horace Stoneham's blocking Dandridge's promotion to the Major Leagues, playing in Minneapolis and segregation, and life after baseball.
Interview RightsAll rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interview UsageInterviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Smith, Walter Wellesley Interview by William J. Marshall. 13 Nov. 1979. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Smith, W.W. (1979, November 13). Interview by W. J. Marshall. A. B. "Happy" Chandler: Desegregation of Major League Baseball Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Smith, Walter Wellesley, interview by William J. Marshall. November 13, 1979, A. B. "Happy" Chandler: Desegregation of Major League Baseball Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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