Editor’s note: This interview appeared in the November 1920 issue of Baseball Magazine.
Carl Mays is unpopular. And his big league career has been stormy beyond all precedent. But a fair minded public knows there are always two sides to a story. The case against Mays has been thoroughly aired. We thought it but fair to allow Mays to state his side of the case. And this he has done with unusual frankness in the following remarkable interview with the Editor of the Baseball Magazine.
“Mays should be strung up,” Doc Johnston said.
Mays was given the news by a Yankees secretary around 10 a.m. Aug. 17 – just as Katy Chapman’s train was arriving from Cleveland. Shortly after that, Mays’ apartment in Coogan’s Bluff had a pair of police officers and a lawyer on retainer from the Yankees. Chapman would have to make a statement.
He was taken to the district attorney’s office. Although this was the first – and to date, only – fatal beaning in the major leagues, it had happened in the minor leagues before, and charges were not filed in any previous incident.
Major League Baseball was at a crossroads in 1920. After weathering the storm of the Federal League, the American and National Leagues – then run as separate businesses – were facing a crisis of leadership and issues that could tear apart the game itself.
The Indians represented one of the most stable clubs in the American League, but it looked like other teams in the junior circuit were coming apart at the seams.
At the time, the game was overseen by a national commission of three men: American League President Byron “Ban” Johnson, National League President John Heydler and Reds owner Garry Herrmann. Johnson was issuing directives that were being ignored, and ignoring problems that threatened the foundation of the sport.