Landis Day

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Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, 1924, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-DIG-npcc-25701]

One of the most exciting days in baseball on the Eastern Shore occurred on July 19, 1923, when famed commissioner of baseball Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis visited Salisbury.

Most of the city came out to welcome Judge Landis’ motorcade as he pulled into town. Businesses closed early and Main Street was lined with flags as the Evening Sun Newsboy’s Band played upon his arrival.

The stands at Gordy Park were filled with some 14,000 spectators as Judge Landis pitched the first ball for the Cambridge Canners, who were playing the Laurel Blue Hens. Women made up a particularly large portion of the crowd. Fans speculated this was due to the signs around town advertising “Landis Day” mistakenly read as “Ladies Day.”

A highlight of the trip for Judge Landis was meeting with three of the five surviving members of the legendary Salisbury White Clouds baseball team, who were the Eastern Shore champions from 1872 to 1875.

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Landis at Gordy Park, 1923, Courtesy of the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame Museum

The Eastern Shore League is a small pink pearl in the great American baseball necklace, and Judge Landis is custodian of the necklace, and now and then he has to count the pearls. That briefly, is the story of why he came...

....The Evening Sun band was lined up at the head of Main street. Yes, that is its real name. Main street was decorated with flags, and half the population was lining the curbs, not only had Main street never seen anything like a Judge Landis, but it had never seen anything like the Evening Sun Newsboy’s Band, which had on its new summer uniforms of khaki and red, with hats bearing erect red pompons, and looked like the army of the Duchy of Luxembourg, all of it.

...The ball game was scheduled to begin at 3:30. Salisbury began to shut shop for two hours before that, the bankers took a last look at the day’s business, the lawyers locked their office doors, the barbers opened the cut-outs of their razors, the business men threw odds and ends together and shut their desk and the sudden deaths of 18 office boys’ grandmothers were duly reported.

– Baltimore Sun, July 20, 1923