John Heydler

John Heydler

He is reported to have recited Casey at the Bat to President Grover Cleveland, while presenting a drafted document for approval.

Now largely forgotten, John Heydler was one of baseball's renaissance men from the late 19th century through the middle of the 20th century. He took a job as a National League umpire in 1895 to 1897, leaving behind a government position.

In 1899, he was hired by a sportswriter before gaining notice of National League president Harry Pulliam. Heydler was first Pulliam's secretary then secretary-treasurer of the league. principally working to compile league playing statistics, a duty of every baseball league office. Heydler's work caused him to record much of the league's early history, and he became an advocate for new ways to measure player accomplishments; for example, he was a strong supporter of recording runs batted in for batters and he began computing earned run averages for pitchers.

When Pulliam died in 1909, Heydler briefly served as league president. He returned to the position of secretary-treasurer when Thomas J. Lynch was named permanently.

Nine years later, Heydler was named National League president a second time. He replaced John Tener in the league office. Heydler served sixteen years in the post. He hired the Elias brothers to maintain as official keeper of playing statistics (1919). He was influential in the election of Kenesaw Mountain Landis (1921) and the establishment of the Hall of Fame.

In 1929 Heydler proposed permitting a tenth player to bat in place of the pitcher – a rule which came about with the creation of the designated hitter in 1973.

He retired in 1934 due to poor health. After his retirement as league president at age 65, Heydler was named Chairman of the National League. A position he held until his death in San Diego, California in 1956, aged 86.

By BR Bullpen

Baseball Executive, National League President


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