Ban Johnson preferred ERA over won-lost records

This article was written by Al Kermisch

This article was published in the 1989 Baseball Research Journal


The American League did not adopt earned run averages until 1913. League president Ban Johnson was so enthusiastic about earned run averages that he dropped won-lost records from the official averages, saying they were not necessary. Johnson’s decision was not a popular one. Thanks to the editors for both the Reach and Spalding guides, the unofficial won-lost records were published each year until 1920, when Johnson finally relented and gave approval for both ERA and won-lost records to be part of the official averages.

Imagine what National League won-lost records would have looked like if a plan proposed by league president John Heydler had been adopted in 1922. The following item from the Chicago Herald and Examiner of May 14, 1922 denotes the plan he proposed to amend the scoring rules:

“John Heydler, president of the National League, is in favor of changing baseball scoring rules to permit more fairness to be shown toward pitchers in crediting them with defeats or victories.

“He thinks it advisable to amend the scoring rules so that a pitcher can be credited with half a victory or half a defeat in games where two or more pitchers share in winning or losing.”

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