August "Garry" Herrmann was president of the Cincinnati Reds for 25
years, but it was in his role as chairman of the national commission of
baseball that Herrmann made his greatest impact on the game he so dearly
Garry Herrmann was, in effect, baseball's first commissioner and, as
commission chairman, he was chiefly responsible for the birth of the
Herrmann served on the commission with the presidents of the National
and American leagues. He had the top voice in any ruling. In 1903 the
Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Red Sox, the two leagues' champions,
met in a post-season playoff. These games are generally regarded as the
first World Series, but it was, in reality, simply an interclub affair.
Nonetheless, it generated a lot of interest among baseball fans.
The following year, 1904, there was considerable disappointment among
the fans when the champion New York Giants and Philadelphia Athletics
failed to meet in a post-season series. After they failed to play,
Herrmann took action.
Working with the two league
presidents, he drew up an agreement and the commission enacted
legislation for the first official World Series, in 1905.
Herrmann was given the nickname "Garry" by a foreman m the type foundry
where he worked as a youngster in Cincinnati. He had been a baseball fan
most of his life, but he didn't become active in the professional game
officially until 1902 when political leader George B. Cox and the
Fleischmann family purchased the Reds for about $150,000.
a young man, Herrmann had discovered that the surest way to Cincinnati
prominence was through ward politics. He worked his way up in the system
and became one of the most influential politicians, running city hall
for Cox. In August 1902, when Cox and the Fleischmanns purchased the
Reds, they installed the 43-year-old Herrmann as the club's president.
He remained at the post until October 10, 1927, when ill health
hardening of the arteries - sent him into retirement.
Herrmann served as president of the Reds and as chairman of the national
commission until 1920 when the commission was dissolved and Judge
Kennesaw Mountain Landis was appointed the commissioner of baseball.
Landis' appointment followed the ill-fated 1919 World Series when eight
members of the White Sox were accused of having "thrown" games to the Reds. The accusations were never
Herrmann's happiest year, no doubt, was the 1919 season. The Reds had
been reorganized, but he remained president. When the team appeared
headed for bankruptcy, Herrmann found a way to keep the franchise afloat. He hired Pat Moran as the manager and the team won
the city's first National League championship, and then won the World
Two of Herrmann's fondest dreams were never fulfilled, though. He
envisioned a permanent springtraining home for the Reds in Orlando,
Florida, complete with a hotel, golf course and several baseball
diamonds. The other dream was a new ballpark for Cincinnati.
Garry Herrmann was the life of any party he threw or attended and there
were plenty of both.
"He was the living personification of Cincinnati culture," Lee Allen
wrote in his book,
"To remember him is to remember the outdoor beer gardens and the
vaudeville, the singing waiters, the foaming steins of beer, the
Liederkrantz sandwiches, the belching, guffawing laughter of long forgotten nights."