Ford Frick

This article was written by Warren Corbett

Commissioner Ford C. Frick presided over 14 of the most turbulent years in the game’s history: the first franchise moves in half a century, expansion of the major leagues, the near-death of the minors, growing unrest among players, the rise of television, and the exploding popularity of football. With change swirling around him, Frick often appeared to be a bystander. The press painted him as an empty suit who dodged most issues by throwing up his hands and saying, “It’s a league matter.” His predecessor, Happy Chandler, branded him forever: “When the clubs pushed me out in 1951, they had a vacancy and decided to keep it.”1

In fact, Frick was the first commissioner to recognize reality. He was an employee of the owners, and he acted like it. At the same time, he maintained the fiction that the commissioner represented “in that order ­— players, the public, and the owners.”2 The New York Times’s Arthur Daley aptly described him as “a sound-thinking, but powerless, man.”3

Frick is best remembered for a word he never spoke. He never said there should be an asterisk in the record book beside Roger Maris’s 61 home runs.

He would rather be remembered as the father of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It was Frick’s idea, and he championed it over the opposition or indifference of other baseball leaders. “That’s my baby, the thing I’m proudest of,” he said.4 Not shackled by tradition, he unsuccessfully pushed for interleague play and legalization of the spitball.

Ford Christopher Frick was born on a farm near Wawaka, Indiana, on December 19, 1894, to Emma (Prickett) and Jacob Frick. His father, known as Jack, became postmaster of Brimfield, Indiana, a small town about 40 miles northwest of Fort Wayne.

The only son in a family with four daughters, Ford was a prodigy. He completed eighth grade at 11 and graduated from Rome High School at 15, second in a class of 10 students. He recalled a magical childhood spent fishing, hunting, and exploring the woods. Baseball captivated him early. When the Chicago Cubs came to town for an exhibition game, catcher Johnny Kling let the boy carry his spikes to the ballpark and found him a seat near the team’s bench.

Frick worked his way through DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, by waiting tables and writing sports as a stringer for out-of-town newspapers. He played varsity baseball as a first baseman who didn’t hit much and couldn’t throw.5

After graduation he went to Walsenburg, Colorado, to teach English and coach, but soon found the job he wanted as a newspaper reporter. His stories on the 1921 flood in Pueblo, which killed an estimated 1,500 people, attracted the attention of an editor for the Hearst papers in New York. The small-town boy headed for the big time. He had married a Denver girl, Eleanor Cowing, and they had a son, Frederick. Frick settled his family in suburban Bronxville, where he lived for the rest of his life, changing addresses only once.

In the Golden Age of hero-worship sportswriting, Frick was no more than a minor star, barely visible in the New York galaxy of Grantland Rice, Damon Runyon, Paul Gallico, Frank Graham, and John Kieran. Frick was known as the fastest writer in the press box. “Maybe I wasn’t a good writer, but I was a hell of a typist,” he said.6

Covering the Yankees for Hearst’s Journal, Frick made his mark as the ghostwriter of Babe Ruth’s newspaper columns and Babe Ruth’s Own Book of Baseball. Unlike most newspapermen, he tackled radio with enthusiasm and some skill, broadcasting World Series games with Graham McNamee on NBC and delivering a daily sports roundup on New York station WOR.

Frick cultivated other baseball eminences including Yankees manager Miller Huggins and the Giants’ John McGraw. Every time he went to Chicago, he called on Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The networking paid off in 1934 when he was chosen to head the National League Service Bureau, the league’s publicity office.

He had been in the job less than a year when NL President John Heydler retired because of poor health. Frick, not quite 40, was unanimously elected president. Awarded a $20,000 salary, he took a pay cut because he had to give up his radio work.

Veeck, Robinson, and Racism

The African American sportswriter Wendell Smith asked the National League president in 1939 whether Organized Baseball prohibited black players. Of course, Frick said no. He blamed segregation on the fans, who he insisted would not accept integrated teams: “I am sure that any major league manager would use a colored player if he thought the fans in his city would stand for it.”7 Smith, indignant and incredulous, pointed out that white fans paid to watch “the Brown Bomber,” Joe Louis, beat white fighters and rooted for integrated college teams.

Frick may have taken more direct action to preserve segregation. Bill Veeck claimed that he tried to buy the Philadelphia Phillies in 1942 and planned to stock the roster with black players, three years before Jackie Robinson signed with Montreal. Veeck said he notified Judge Landis as a courtesy, only to be thwarted when Landis and Frick found another buyer. In his 1962 autobiography, Veeck wrote, “Word reached me soon enough that Frick was bragging all over the baseball world—strictly off the record, of course—about how he had stopped me from contaminating the league.”8

Frick never commented on the allegation. How much of Veeck’s story is true, and whether he seriously tried to buy the Phillies or just talked about it, is an enduring mystery.

Frick never said or did anything publicly to challenge the rule of Jim Crow in baseball. But he emerged as a hero during Robinson’s rookie year in another incident that has created lasting debate.

After Robinson had played only 15 games for the Dodgers in 1947, the New York Herald Tribune published an explosive story charging that some St. Louis Cardinals players had plotted to organize a league-wide strike against the presence of a black man in the majors. Sports editor Stanley Woodward reported that Frick had quashed the plot, warning the players that they would be suspended if they went through with it. “This is the United States of America, and one citizen has as much right to play as another,” he told them, according to Woodward’s account.9 Dodgers broadcaster Red Barber called it Frick’s “finest hour.”10

Frick never made that speech. He said so himself. When Cardinals owner Sam Breadon came to him with rumors of a strike, he told Breadon that the league would stand behind Robinson. Frick said Breadon reported back that the strike talk was “a tempest in a teapot,” just a few players “letting off steam.”11 In more than 70 years since, no hard evidence of such a strike conspiracy has surfaced. Wendell Smith, among many others, thought the story “was greatly exaggerated.”12

Like Veeck and the Phillies, the story of Robinson and the Cardinals is impossible to prove or disprove. But before Robinson, when racial segregation was the most important moral issue facing baseball, Frick let others lead.

The Commissioner

When Judge Landis died in November 1944, World War II was entering its fourth year and Congress was threatening to enact “work or fight” legislation that would shut down baseball. Although Frick’s name was put forward as a possible successor, the owners chose a man with political connections, Kentucky Senator Happy Chandler.

Chandler quickly alienated some owners with his folksy style and his intrusion into matters they considered none of his business. They forced him out in 1951 before the end of his term. Some owners wanted to hire another big-name outsider such as General Douglas MacArthur or Chief Justice Fred Vinson. Frick insisted he never wanted the job. But after three months of wrangling, he was elected in September 1951 for a seven-year term at $65,000 a year.

Frick did not attend the meeting where the final vote was taken. When owners couldn’t track him down by telephone, they sent police to his home in Bronxville. Frick and his wife had gone to a neighbor’s house for dinner.13

Owners had chafed under 24 years of Landis’s ironfisted rule and six years of Chandler’s muddling and meddling. They chose a commissioner who wouldn’t rock the boat, but wouldn’t steer it, either.

The commissioner had no authority to make rules; his job was to interpret the rules. After Landis’s death, the owners had adopted two important restrictions on the commissioner’s power to act in the best interests of baseball. First, they stated that any policy approved by owners could not be overturned under the “best interests” clause. Second, they reserved the right of any owner to sue the commissioner.14 There would be no more Landises.

Spokesman for the Game

Frick came to his new job with one obvious advantage: He looked the part. He was 56 when he took office, a trim 5-foot-10 with an impressive shock of gray hair. Serving as the public face of the baseball industry was one of his most important duties, nowhere more so than before the United States Congress.

By his count, he testified before congressional committees 17 times. He was usually on the defensive, arguing that Congress should not regulate baseball. He was an effective, if bland, spokesman, unshakable under questioning.

His first test came even before he was elected commissioner. In July 1951 the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Study of Monopoly Power opened hearings on baseball’s exemption from antitrust laws. With the commissioner’s office vacant, Frick was the owners’ leadoff witness. He said the antitrust exemption underpinned the two fundamental principles of the professional baseball industry: the reserve clause, which bound players to their teams, and territorial rights, which prohibited a team from moving into another team’s territory.

Frick declared that the reserve clause was vital to ensure the integrity of competition: “How can public confidence in player loyalty and will to win be maintained if the player, while playing for one club, may seek a job with another, or may be pressed with offers from several other clubs?”15

The congressmen aimed their sharpest questions at the majors’ refusal to expand beyond 10 markets in the Northeast and Midwest. “You have kept the status quo for 50 years,” subcommittee chairman Emanuel Celler of Brooklyn remarked, while shutting out Los Angeles, which had grown to be the nation’s third-largest metropolitan area in population, and San Francisco, the seventh largest.16

Frick responded that he believed the Pacific Coast cities and other fast-growing markets would have big-league teams within a short time. No one pressed him to say when the time might come.17

The Celler subcommittee recommended that Congress take no action on the antitrust exemption as long as the issue was before the courts. Eight separate lawsuits challenging the exemption were pending. The key case, a suit by Yankees minor leaguer George Toolson, went to the US Supreme Court. In 1953 the court upheld the exemption and the reserve clause.

Congress revisited the issue several times, calling the commissioner back to sing his familiar song. In another round of hearings before Celler’s subcommittee in 1957, Frick refused to yield an inch: “The reserve clause has got to stay if we are to continue in business. We could not operate with modifications. The reserve clause and territorial rights are fundamental needs of a unique business.”18 On his watch, Congress never tampered with the economic foundation of Organized Baseball.

A New Map

“Probably no single program in baseball history,” Frick wrote, “created more controversy, aroused stronger fan feeling, or brought more vituperative discussion, pro and con, than the movement of clubs and the expansion of the major leagues.”19

The new commissioner inherited a troubled industry. Attendance was trending downward at all levels of professional baseball. Major-league attendance had peaked in 1948 and did not recover until after the majors expanded in the 1960s. Most ballparks were situated in decaying inner cities with little parking, while fans were driving their new cars to new homes in the suburbs. The St. Louis Browns were nearly bankrupt, the Philadelphia Athletics were heading down the same road, and the Boston Braves were propped up by a rich owner.

In Frick’s first three years in office, the major-league map saw the first changes in half a century: Braves to Milwaukee, Browns to Baltimore, and Athletics to Kansas City. In 1958 the Dodgers and Giants brought big-league ball to California. These moves were “league matters,” beyond the commissioner’s purview.

Attorney William Shea’s effort to bring another team to New York led to formation of the Continental League, a self-styled third major. Although the league existed only on paper, it signed up the revered executive Branch Rickey as its president and recruited financial backers in eight cities eager for big-league status.

The new circuit found a champion in Congress to put pressure on the existing majors. Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver introduced legislation to end baseball’s antitrust exemption and limit major-league teams to controlling only 40 players — outlawing large farm systems. Commissioner Frick denounced the bill as “vicious” and “discriminatory.” He predicted doom for the minor leagues, since the majors would end their support of farm clubs if they stood to lose most of the players in the draft.20

Frick had long favored a third major league rather than expanding the American and National Leagues. “The Continental League can have our endorsement, too, as soon as they settle certain things,” he said.21 But the majors put up roadblocks. They said any new major circuit must meet certain criteria for market size and stadium capacity, and would have to pay off the minor leagues whose territory it invaded. And they made no provision to share players with the Continentals.

Ignoring the commissioner’s preference, AL and NL owners were not about to welcome eight new competitors. They pre-empted the Continentals by expanding their own ranks. Allowing the Washington Senators to move to Minneapolis-St. Paul, the AL put a new team in the nation’s capital to mollify Congress and gained a foothold in California with the Los Angeles Angels in 1961. The NL added the New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s in 1962.

Boxed In

Fewer than one in four American homes had television sets when Frick became commissioner in 1951, but the flickering black-and-white boxes were spreading in a pandemic that would soon overwhelm all other forms of entertainment — radio, movies, live theater, and baseball. How baseball dealt with the new medium became a vital issue, one that remains unsettled.

At first the majors limited local TV broadcasts to a 50-mile radius around each ballpark, protecting minor-league teams. When the US Justice Department warned that any such restriction might violate antitrust laws and threaten baseball’s exemption, the majors repealed the rule. That left each team free to set its own television policy.

A conflict between greed and fear animated those policies. Some clubs televised almost all home games, welcoming the fees from TV stations. Others allowed only a few telecasts for fear of hurting attendance. (Long-distance video lines to televise road games were nonexistent or prohibitively expensive in television’s early years.) All agreed that the TV coverage should not be too enticing. As Frick put it, “The view a fan gets at home should be worse than that of the fan in the worst seat in the stadium.”22 Teams limited the number of cameras and controlled where the cameras were placed.

Meanwhile, the minors were protesting that major-league telecasts were killing their attendance, but those complaints were overblown. TV’s biggest threat was the prime-time entertainment that kept fans away from night games.

Major-league baseball became a regular weekend fixture on network television in 1953 when ABC inaugurated the Game of the Week with the outrageous ex-pitcher Dizzy Dean at the mike. The Saturday afternoon games moved to the more powerful CBS network, and NBC began its own weekend series in 1957. The networks voluntarily blacked out their games in all big-league cities and in minor-league markets when the local club was playing.

Baseball was still determined to control the home viewer’s access. When NBC introduced the now-familiar center-field shot, Frick demanded that they stop using it, and the network meekly complied.23

In 1958 Frick told a congressional committee, “The minors are being wrecked.”24 He testified in favor of legislation that would allow a blackout of major-league telecasts into minor-league cities when the local team was at home. The legislation did not pass at the time, but three years later National Football League Commissioner Pete Rozelle led the way in persuading Congress to approve the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, allowing all professional sports leagues to set broadcasting policies and negotiate league-wide TV contracts.

Finally in control of its TV product, Major League Baseball made a fateful choice. NFL teams agreed to share all television revenue, but baseball owners shared only network money. Each team kept its local rights fees for itself, widening the revenue gap between large- and small-market clubs. The NFL policy ensured prosperity for all; the team in the small city of Green Bay survives.

Shortly before he left office in 1965, Frick urged the owners to follow the NFL’s lead. “We haven’t solved TV yet, nor the related problem of the economic balance between the clubs,” he said.25 That is still true more than a half-century later.

Little Town Blues

Attendance in the minor leagues hit an all-time high in 1949 when 42 million fans watched games in 59 circuits. Ten years later attendance had dwindled to 12 million in 21 leagues. Nearly three-fourths of the fans and two-thirds of the leagues had vanished.

Television was one of many causes of the decline. The minors had expanded too fast in the brief boom after World War II; some tiny towns had as many professional ball clubs as traffic lights: one. One of the most successful minor-league operators, Chattanooga’s Joe Engel, pointed to new competition for the recreation dollar. Watching cars roll past his ballpark towing boats on the way to the lake, Engel said, “That is the funeral procession for baseball here — everywhere — in the minors.”26 Major-league franchise shifts and expansion claimed seven of the largest Triple-A markets (home to 10 teams).27

Commissioner Frick starkly framed the issue in 1953 testimony before a Senate subcommittee: “[T]he minor leagues cannot exist without the major leagues; the major leagues cannot exist without the minor leagues.”28

Identifying the problem was easy. Finding a solution, impossible. Major-league clubs resisted giving direct subsidies to the minors. Socialism! Most minor-league owners agreed on the need for a reorganization, as long as their team was not the one being reorganized. The crisis reached a flash point in 1962. Several Triple-A franchises folded, leaving the Pacific Coast League with seven teams and the American Association with five. At the minors’ winter meeting, one official said, “This is just like death row.”29

For two years, Frick had been pushing a drastic restructuring called the Player Development Plan. With the undertaker knocking at the door, both the majors and minors finally accepted it. The majors would subsidize 102 farm clubs in 18 leagues. The 61-year-old American Association ceased to exist. B, C, and D classifications were abolished.30 “If a minor league operator can’t make a go of it under this plan, his city doesn’t deserve to have baseball,” Frick said. “The majors will give him the players, train them and pay part or all of their salaries.”31

The Player Development Plan completed the majors’ takeover of the minor leagues. Just as Judge Landis had feared three decades before, the surviving clubs would be vassals of their big-league parents.

Unrest in the Ranks

Among the commissioner’s duties was a seemingly innocuous one, the administration of the players’ pension plan. Although the pension was small change — $100 a month for a 10-year veteran ­— it was the players’ prize benefit. Commissioner Frick and the owners, through their arrogant mismanagement of the pension plan, planted the seed of player resentment that led to formation of the most successful labor union in American history.

The owners refused to allow player representatives to see the plan’s financial records, with good reason: The commissioner’s office was skimming tens of thousands of dollars from the pension fund each year for administrative expenses.32 Player reps suspected that something was rotten, but they had no way of knowing.

In 1953 they hired their first legal adviser, New York lawyer J. Norman Lewis. When the player representatives brought him to a meeting with owners, Frick informed them that their lawyer would not be allowed in the room. The player reps walked out of the meeting.33

That got results. Within weeks, Frick released a financial statement for the pension fund, though not the complete records. Owners agreed to add two player members to the board that administered the pension plan and earmark 60 percent of radio-TV revenue from the All-Star Game and World Series for the fund.34 When Frick negotiated a rich new network contract in 1956, the players got bigger pensions. But the pension plan continued to be a point of friction between players and management.

As a result of the dust-up, the players formally established the Major League Baseball Players Association with Cleveland pitching star Bob Feller as its first president. In its early years, the association was, as the historian Charles P. Korr described it, “an informal ‘players group’ with no organizational structure, no philosophy, and no detailed program of action.”35 The association employed only a part-time executive director and a part-time legal adviser. Player representatives went out of their way to declare that it was not, not, not a union.

The players did win a $1,000 increase in the minimum salary, to $7,000 a year in 1958, but it was a gift from the owners. The ballplayers’ organization was “powerless,” recalled National League player rep Ralph Kiner, and the players had no feeling of solidarity. Their attitude was, “I got mine, now you get yours.”36

That left the commissioner and the owners free to do as they wished, and they wished to do as little as possible for the players. But a backlash was building under the surface. With more and more television money flowing into the game, some players realized that they were not getting their fair share. Led by veteran pitcher Robin Roberts, a few began pushing to hire a full-time professional staff to look after their interests. Less than six months after Frick left office, the players chose Marvin Miller, an experienced steelworkers union negotiator, as their first full-time executive director.

The *

The American League’s expansion to 10 teams in 1961 also expanded the schedule to 162 games rather than the 154 that had been standard since early in the century. Around Opening Day Sporting News writer Fred Lieb speculated on how the longer season might alter the record books. Lieb thought most individual records were safe, but said Ruth’s 60 home runs was the most vulnerable because several sluggers had come close before. He reported that some observers “recommend adding an asterisk to any new records.”37

By July 17, a little past the halfway point, the Yankees’ Roger Maris had hit 35 homers and was 19 games ahead of Ruth’s pace. His teammate Mickey Mantle hit his 33rd that night, putting him seven games ahead of the Babe. Commissioner Frick chose the day to circle the wagons around Ruth. Frick ruled that a challenger must break the record in 154 games, or else “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books” to differentiate between a 154-game season and 162.38 Sportswriter Dick Young introduced the word “asterisk” into the conversation when he asked Frick a question.39

That decision is remembered as Frick’s unfair attempt to preserve his hero’s legacy. At the time, it was not so controversial. Frick regarded the 162-game schedule as a temporary measure; he expected that both leagues would expand to 12 teams within a few years and revert to 154 games. The Sporting News polled several dozen baseball writers and found they agreed with the commissioner’s ruling by a 2-1 margin. A smaller survey of all-star players produced a 12-5 vote in favor.40

As for the two men most affected, Mantle said, “If I should break it in the one hundred fifty-fifth game, I wouldn’t want the record.” Maris agreed: “[I]f Mick breaks it I hope he does it in 154. The same goes for me.” Who knows whether they really felt that way, or were just saying the politic thing? Maris did complain that Frick should not have issued his decree in midseason, changing the rules in the middle of the game.41

Both Yankees fell short of Ruth ­— Maris hit his 59th in the 154th game, while Mantle was stuck on 54 and injured. Frick reaffirmed his decision: “As for that star or asterisk business, I don’t know how that cropped up or was attributed to me because I never said it. I certainly never meant to belittle Maris’ feat should he wind up with more than sixty. Both names will appear in the book as having set records, but under different conditions.”42

Maris hit No. 61 in game 162. No asterisk ever appeared in the official record books. Maris’s and Ruth’s records were listed on separate lines for 30 years until baseball’s records committee decided that a season is a season.

On the Way Out

The rise of professional football in the 1960s challenged baseball’s claim to be the National Pastime. The NFL’s popularity spiked after the 1958 championship game, when the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants in a thrilling sudden-death overtime. An estimated 45 million people watched the game that “changed Sundays,” in the words of NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle.43 The upstart American Football League spread the pro game to new cities.

Baseball’s commissioner claimed there was no reason to worry. “Actually, baseball has more than doubled its attendance in the last 20 years, so why should people say we are slipping?” Frick said.44 In fact, the growth in attendance was largely driven by expansion and franchise moves to new, baseball-hungry markets. By 1969 a Louis Harris poll found that football had become America’s most popular sport.45

Frick did recognize the need to change baseball’s antiquated governing structure. Early in his first term, he said owners were “attempting to operate a 1954 machine with an 1890 motor.”46 The chaotic expansion of 1961 and 1962 exposed the lack of coordination between the independent American and National Leagues, and the commissioner’s lack of authority.

In 1963 Frick announced that he would retire at the end of his contract two years later. As his exit date approached, he spoke up in uncharacteristically blunt language to urge the owners to put their house in order.

In a letter to owners that was released to the press, Frick called for restoration of Landis-like powers to the commissioner. He reminded them that the commissioner’s job was created to combat the loss of public trust after the Black Sox scandal. “Today it is the conduct of the owners and operators themselves that is being questioned by the public.” Too many owners, he charged, were “unwilling to sacrifice the welfare of the individual for the benefit of the whole.”47

Leonard Koppett of the New York Times said the commissioner “gave the club owners a verbal spanking and himself an excuse, by implication.”48 It was as if the teacher’s pet had thrown rocks at her car.

And the owners listened. At their 1964 winter meeting, they repealed the limits on the commissioner’s authority. Owners would no longer be allowed to sue the commissioner, and he would have veto power over any policy that he considered detrimental to the game.49

The owners also approved a draft of amateur players, as the NFL and NBA had been doing for years.  Frick had been pushing for the draft to rein in bonus-baby spending that left low-budget teams unable to compete for young talent.

In a January 1965 interview with the New York Times, Frick said the game’s biggest problems were the economic gap between rich and poor teams and the need for further expansion. He urged the owners to share local television revenue to balance the financial scales.50

Frick listed his proudest achievements as racial integration, expansion, and “my own baby, the Hall of Fame.”51 After retiring he served as chairman of the Hall’s board of directors and of its veterans committee, which voted on the induction of old-timers.

Even in that role, he couldn’t avoid controversy. After Ted Williams used his induction speech in 1966 to urge the Hall to admit some Negro League stars, Frick objected that Negro Leaguers did not qualify because they had not played 10 years in the majors. He appeared blind to the reason they hadn’t played in the majors. Public outrage forced the Hall to open its doors to black stars.

Frick was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970. The highlight of the former commissioner’s year was his annual trip to the induction ceremony, where he attended the members’ private dinner and sat with fellow members on the porch of the stately Otesaga Hotel for an old-fashioned “fanning bee.” “Two or three die every year,” he said, “but everybody talks about these guys as if they were still alive. They’re just not there, that’s all.”52

A series of strokes disabled him in the 1970s. Frick died at 83 on April 8, 1978. After his death the Hall created the Ford C. Frick Award, given to announcers for meritorious service.

The subtitle of Frick’s autobiography is “Memoirs of a Lucky Fan.” Being a sportswriter had been fun, being commissioner had been an honor as well as a trial, but at heart he was always the young fan who carried Johnny Kling’s spikes.

After Frick, four of the next five baseball commissioners left office under a cloud of one kind or another (the fifth died in office). Frick’s greatest skill may have been survival. Ineffectiveness was the price he paid for it. 



Photo credit: Topps Company.

This biography was reviewed by Jan Finkel and fact-checked by Chris Rainey.



1 William Marshall, Baseball’s Pivotal Era, 1945-1951 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1999), 426.

2 Study of Monopoly Power, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Study of Monopoly Power of the U.S. Congress, House Committee on the Judiciary, 82nd Congress, First Session, Serial No. 1, Part 6: Organized Baseball (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1952), 1054.

3 Arthur Daley, “Sports of the Times,” New York Times, September 12, 1958: 29.

4 Jerome Holtzman, No Cheering in the Press Box (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973), 201.

5 Information about Frick’s personal life comes from John P. Carvalho, Frick*, Baseball’s Third Commissioner (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2016).

6 Holtzman, No Cheering, 88.

7 Chris Lamb, Conspiracy of Silence (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012), 134.

8 Bill Veeck with Ed Linn, Veeck—As in Wreck (New York: Putnam, 1962), 172.

9 Stanley Woodward, “Views of Sport,” New York Herald Tribune, May 9, 1947, reprinted in The Sporting News, May 21, 1947: 4.

10 Red Barber, 1947: When All Hell Broke Loose in Baseball (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1982), 175.

11 Ford C. Frick, Games, Asterisks, and People (New York: Crown, 1973), 97-98.

12 Jules Tygiel, Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy (New York: Vintage, 1984), 188. For a detailed discussion of the alleged strike, see Warren Corbett, “The ‘Strike’ Against Jackie Robinson: Truth or Myth?” Baseball Research Journal 46:1 (2017).

13 “Police Break the News to Frick as He Prepares for Bed,” The Sporting News, September 26, 1951: 4.

14 Marshall, Pivotal Era, 39.

15 Organized Baseball, Report of the Subcommittee on Study of Monopoly Power of the House Judiciary Committee, 82nd Congress, First Session (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1952), 213.

16 Ibid., 190.

17 Ibid., 202.

18 Dan Daniel, “‘Game Facing its Most Critical Period’—Frick,” The Sporting News, July 17, 1957: 5.

19 Frick, Games, 119.

20 Dave Brady, “Frick Clears Sacks Testifying Against Kefauver Sport Bill,” The Sporting News, May 25, 1960: 9.

21 “Third Major Standards Set; Don’t Need Mediator – Frick,” The Sporting News, January 13, 1960: 9.

22  “Fond Farewell?” Baltimore Sun Magazine, May 29, 1966: 12.

23 The history of baseball on television comes from James R. Walker and Robert V. Bellamy Jr., Center Field Shot: A History of Baseball on Television (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008).

24 Jack Walsh, “TV Curb Needed to Save Game—Frick,” The Sporting News, July 23, 1958: 7.

25 Joseph Durso, “Frick, in Last Year, Warns Big Leagues,” New York Times, January 3, 1965: 2.

26 Steve Martini, “Joe Engel,” The Engel Foundation,, accessed July 20, 2017.

27 The majors evicted Triple-A franchises in Milwaukee, Baltimore, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Francisco, Oakland, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Houston.

28 Neil Sullivan, The Minors (New York: St. Martin’s, 1990), 239.

29 Clifford Kachline, “Minors Doomed Unless Majors Act,” The Sporting News, December 8, 1962: 2.

30 United Press International, “Minors Will Receive $1 Million Subsidy,” Washington Post and Times Herald, December 2, 1962: C4.

31 Clifford Kachline, “Majors Pick Up $10 Million Tab in Minors,” The Sporting News, December 15, 1962: 5.

32 The early history of the Players Association comes primarily from Charles P. Korr, The End of Baseball as We Knew It (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2002) and Robert F. Burk, Much More Than a Game (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001).

33 Edgar Munzel, “$7,580,000 Cost Hike Threatens Pension,” The Sporting News, December 9, 1953: 1.

34 Joseph Sheehan, “Athletes Receive Unusual Benefits,” New York Times, February 24, 1954: 30.

35 Korr, The End, 9.

36 Ibid., 19.

37 Frederick G. Lieb, “Top A.L. Marks Beyond Reach, Lieb Predicts,” The Sporting News, April 26, 1961: 8.

38 “Ruth’s Record Can Be Broken Only in 154 Games, Frick Rules,” New York Times, July 18, 1961: 20.

39 Frick, Games, 155.

40 C.C. Johnson Spink, “Writers Back Frick’s Homer Decision,” The Sporting News, August 9, 1961: 1.

41 Hy Hurwitz, “Mick Wouldn’t Want Mark If It Was Set in 155 Games,” The Sporting News, August 9, 1961: 6.

42 “No * Will Mar Homer Records, Says Frick with †† for Critics,” New York Times, September 22, 1961: 38.

43 Tom Callahan, Johnny U: The Life and Times of John Unitas (New York: Crown, 2006), 173.

44 Oscar Kahan, “Bigwigs Rap Runner-Up Tag Tacked on Game,” The Sporting News, January 31, 1962: 6.

45 Louis Harris, “Harris Poll: Football Now No. 1 Sport,” Fort Lauderdale (Florida) News, April 23, 1969: 6B.

46 Dan Daniel, “Frick Warns Against Attempting to Run ’54 Machine on ’90 Motor,” The Sporting News, February 10, 1954: 1.

47 Russell Schneider, “Judge Would Have Been Proud of Frick,” The Sporting News, November 21, 1964: 5.

48 Leonard Koppett, “Baseball’s Open Secret,” New York Times, November 6, 1964: 43.

49 “Majors Official Vote Restores Commissioner’s Broad Powers,” New York Times, December 5, 1964: 36.

50 Durso, “Frick, in Last Year, Warns Big Leagues.”

51 Ibid.

52 Holtzman, No Cheering, 204.

Full Name

Ford Christopher Frick


December 19, 1894 at Wawaka, IN (US)


April 8, 1978 at Bronxville, NY (US)

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