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A Mailman Moves a Mountain
George McEvoy
September 16, 1963
Baseball Commissioner Landis once backed down on one of his edicts because of a friendship between Joe Judge and an obscure postman
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September 16, 1963

A Mailman Moves A Mountain

Baseball Commissioner Landis once backed down on one of his edicts because of a friendship between Joe Judge and an obscure postman

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Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the Commissioner of Baseball, did not look at it that way. Because of the Black Sox scandal he had forbidden ballplayers to converse with anyone in the stands, hoping that cloistered ballplayers would be free of temptation and unlikely to meet gamblers and other undesirables.

"I picked up a paper one day in 1921 and read that I had been fined $50 for talking to someone in the stands," Judge said. "If you played ball for Washington in those days you looked on $50 as a princely sum."

The next time the Senators came in to face the Yankees Judge left the usual tickets for Hannah but failed to walk over and pay his respects before the game. "Gee, I was embarrassed," Judge said. "Hannah kept calling to me, and I guess he had been bragging to his pal that he knew me. But I was afraid to go near him. I thought Landis might suspend me."

The next day Judge left tickets again but Hannah did not show up. He was absent again the third day, nor did he arrive for the fourth and final game of that series. Judge began to brood. "I had been hitting about .325 all season," he said, "and then my average fell down around .260. I couldn't buy an extra base hit."

The slump continued throughout the Senators' home stand. Judge thought of writing to Hannah, but how does one explain to a decent, hard-working postman that he is not considered a fit person to be associated with a ballplayer?

Washington came back to New York some weeks later with Judge still in the worst slump of his career. Hannah's box was again empty for the opening game of the series. Finally, unable to stand the embarrassment any longer, Joe went to Washington Owner Clark Griffith and explained the whole situation.

Griffith nodded and smiled. Then he said, " Joe, my boy, you get that man, Hannah, out to this ball park tomorrow if you have to drag him. Then go over and talk to him all you want before the game. Have your pictures taken if you wish. I'll worry about Judge Landis."

Judge called for Hannah at his home and explained matters as best he could on the way to the ball park. Hannah's boss went with them, greatly impressed. At the park Judge paused for a long chat with both of them and had a newspaper friend take some pictures. He gave them each an autographed ball.

The next day Landis fined him $100. Griffith paid the fine. Judge talked to Hannah again before game two. Another $100 fine. Griffith paid up once more. "I talked with Bud Hannah before every game for the rest of that season—and finished above .300," Judge said.

Griffith tried to explain to Landis the wonderful appreciation Judge had for Hannah's early efforts in his behalf, but the Commissioner said he could make no exceptions. He continued to fine Judge the next season, and Griffith continued to pay the fines.

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