Bowie Kent Kuhn (born October 28, 1926 in Takoma Park, Maryland) was commissioner of Major League Baseball from February 4, 1969 to September 30, 1984. For almost 20 years, he served as legal counsel for Major League Baseball owners prior to his election as commissioner.
Long before he worked for Major League Baseball, Kuhn grew up in Washington, DC and graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School. He then attended Franklin and Marshall College in the Naval V-12 Officer Training Program before going to Princeton University in 1945. He graduated from Princeton with honors in 1947 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. He then received his law degree in 1950 from the University of Virginia where he served on the editorial board of the law review.
Following his graduation from law school, Kuhn became a member of the New York law firm Wilkie, Farr and Gallagher, chosen because it represented the National League. While working in baseball's legal affairs, Kuhn served as a counselor for the National League in a lawsuit brought against it by the City of Milwaukee when the Braves moved to Atlanta.
After the owners forced out William Eckert in 1968, seemed like a logical replacement for the job of commissioner. Kuhn, unlike Eckert, was very aware of the inner workings of Major League Baseball going in.
His tenure was marked by labor strikes, owner disenchantment, and the end of baseball's reserve clause, yet baseball enjoyed unprecedented attendance (from 23 million in 1968 to 45.5 million in 1983) and television contracts during the same time frame. Kuhn suspended numerous players for drug involvement and barred both Willie Mays (in 1979) and Mickey Mantle (in 1983) from the sport due to their involvement in casino promotion; both were reinstated (by Kuhn's successor Peter Ueberroth) in 1985.
In 1970 Kuhn described Jim Bouton's Ball Four as "detrimental to baseball" and demanded that Bouton retract it. In 1976, when the Oakland Athletics attempted to sell several players to the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees for $3.5 million, Kuhn blocked the deals on the grounds that they would be bad for the game.
- For further information about Bowie Kuhn, check out the articles about Darrell Porter, Henry Aaron, and Charles O. Finley.
- Bowie Kuhn is to this day, the youngest (42), tallest (6-foot-5), and biggest (240 pounds) commissioner in Major League Baseball history.
- Kuhn's closest challengers to the commissionership were Mike Burke, president of the New York Yankees and National League President Chub Feeney.
|Commissioner of Baseball|