I want to take the time to introduce you to one of the most important men ever involved in baseball. His name was August Hermann; he owned the Cincinnati Reds. He also brought together the warring sides in 1903 and produced the peace that allowed for the two Major Leagues to work together, to sanction a postseason set of games, and to work out their contract issues. Although Barney Dreyfuss invented the World Series, Hermann is the man who made it annual.
August Hermann was born in 1859 in Cincinnati. He worked a series of odd jobs eventually going into printing. He began the Hamilton County Law Bulletin which got him into politics. He served as court clerk, a member of the Cincinnati school board, and chairman of the city Water Commission. All that made him both well-known and reasonably wealthy. He was also a baseball fan.
In 1902 he joined three other men in purchasing the Reds. He got the job of actually running the team. And it’s here that he began to make his mark on the sport. The Reds were in a dispute with the American League about who owned the rights to future Hall of Fame outfielder Sam Crawford. It was one small problem in a host of difficulties that were tearing up the Major Leagues in 1902. The newly formed American League was putting teams in towns that were National League cities, they were raiding NL rosters for the best quality players, and they were scheduling games opposite NL games that cut into profits for the existing league.
Hermann decided all this was destroying the sport and, as importantly, the profits available from it. So he began his tenure as owner of the Reds by giving up all claim to Crawford. That got the attention of AL President Ban Johnson. He and Hermann knew each other from Johnson’s days as a Cincinnati sports reporter, but were only casual acquaintances. Nevertheless, Johnson determined that he might have an ally in the NL and began corresponding with Hermann. The two men met, talked over the issues pressing baseball, and Hermann then agreed to host a meeting between Johnson, some of his allies, and the NL leadership.
The result was the National Agreement of 10 January 1903. The agreement established a “National Commission” to govern the sport and work out the problems that were currently creating difficulties. Both league presidents were members, but a third member was needed to break any ties. Johnson nominated Hermann as both a member and the President of the Commission and he was elected easily. For the next several years August Hermann, as both the President and the tie breaker on the Commission, was one of the single most significant people in baseball. He held the position into 1920.
One of his first moves was to support Barney Dreyfuss, Pittsburgh owner, in establishing a postseason series of games to be called the World Series between the NL and the AL. His support was critical for renewing the Series after it wasn’t played in 1904. He is sometimes known as “the father of the World Series.” Although Dreyfuss should probably be given more credit than Hermann for inventing the Series, Hermann was instrumental in making sure it continued.
There’s a lot more on Hermann. But I want this to concentrate on his role in establishing peace between the leagues and supporting the creation of a postseason series. He is one of the most overlooked of all the early owners and should be, in my opinion, seriously considered for the Hall of Fame.