Thursday, September 22, 2005

September 22nd, 1932

Cubs Vote World Series Shares

World Series shares, a divvying up of the profit from the Series' first four games (to discourage players throwing games to drag out the Series), at this time could represent as much as a player's salary twice again and the assignment thereof was sometimes a contentious process. The 1932 Cubs--who of course didn't actually win the World Series, this was the loser's share--were easily the most contentious of all-time.

The Cubs had been managed for the beginning of the season by Rogers Hornsby. Hornsby--as that last one demonstrates--was basically an ass, and spent most of the season alienating his players. He was fired midway through the season and replaced with Charlie Grimm. Grimm led the team to the pennant although they were swept by the Yankees. One of the key elements in the Cubs' run to the pennant was the performance of Mark Koenig. The shortstop for the Murder's Row Yankees, Koenig joined the Cubs' late in the season, took over the shortstop job and promptly went on a tear the likes of which his career had never seen. Koenig hit .353/.377/.510 in thirty-three games, miles ahead of his lifetime .279/.316/.367.

When it came time to vote then, the Cubs' players--led by Captain Woody English--voted Koenig a half-share and Hornsby nothing. Hornsby, being Hornsby, promptly filed a grievance with Judge Landis, complaining that the Cubs owed him something. In a related story, some Chicago sportswriters, showing they had something in common with their ilk today, began to stir up trouble claiming the Cubs owed Koenig a full share given his performance.

Landis decided to solve this problem by calling in English. English and Landis were casual acquaintances--Landis had a box on the third base line at Wrigley and English was the third baseman--so Landis trusted the Captain's judgment. After the meeting Landis publicly stated that how teams divide up World Series shares was none of his business and privately told English he thought the Cubs were right on both cases, maybe even generous to Koenig. This put the incident to bed, ending one of the most hostile divvying up of playoff money in baseball history.

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