What A Year It Was, Part Two

Last month I wrote a column with a trip back to a pivotal year in history, exactly 100 years ago. After a break, let’s go to Sherman and Peabody’s “way back” machine again to 1920. I believe that I was mentioning the world of sports in 1920 when we left. Here we go.

The result of the eight Chicago White Sox players being thrown out of baseball for life took the White Sox out of the chase for the American League pennant. But another team in the pennant race were the revitalized New York Yankees who had benefitted from the biggest off season deal of all time.

The Boston Red Sox sold their best player to the Yankees for cash after the 1919 season so the owner could recoup his losses after backing a Broadway play that flopped. The sale of Babe Ruth made the Yankees contenders. He had led baseball in home runs in 1919 by hitting 29 home runs. In 1920, a new tighter wound ball was introduced and Babe Ruth hit 54 home runs that season, more than any other team did that year. The Boston Red Sox had won the 1918 World Series, but it would be another 86 years before the Red Sox would win another World Series.

The Cleveland Indians also made history in 1920 as well. In August, their star shortstop, Ray Chapman died one day after being hit in the head by a pitched ball while batting. The loss of Ray Chapman devastated the team. But their player manager and future Hall of Fame outfielder Tris Speaker rallied the team and the Cleveland Indians went on to win the 1920 American League pennant. Ray Chapman is the only player in Major League Baseball history to be killed while playing the game.

The 1920 World Series became one of the best world series to date. It featured the first grand slam home run in world series history as well as the only unassisted triple play in a World Series and the first home run by a pitcher. In the World Series, the Cleveland Indians defeated the Brooklyn Robins (later renamed the Trolley Dodgers, shortened to Dodgers) five wins to two in a best of nine series.

The old League Park baseball field where that 1920 World Series was played has been restored. It is at the corner of East 66th and Lexington in the Hough neighborhood.

The election of 1920 also made history. The Republican candidate, Warren Harding, conducted a “front porch campaign” from his house in Marion Oho. There was no cross country railroad tour that year. It was just the media coming from all over the nation to hear Harding give speeches from his front porch with the reporters and crowd in front of his house. A garage behind the house was converted to a media room where national media could prepare their stories about the candidate.

The election was a landslide victory for Warren Harding and the Republican party. Harding promised a “return to normalcy” and that resonated with the voters who were tired of the United States trying to fix the troubles of the world. In 1920 the congress, controlled by Republicans, rejected the Treaty of Versailles with its League of Nations. This marked a significant shift from Woodrow Wilson’s focus on world events to a return to American isolationism. Another interesting fact about the 1920 presidential election was that the election returns were broadcast over a new medium for the first time, radio, on a station out of Pittsburgh.

In 1920, a young Italian who immigrated to the United States as a young child from Sicily was sent from New York to Chicago because things were “getting too hot” for him in New York. He was sent to Chicago to be under the protection of their mob boss Johnny Torrio. That young man, Alphonse Capone, found prohibition and Chicago to be a wide open city. By the middle of the decade, he would control most of the illegal “hooch” in Chicago.

Another thing “invented” in 1920 was from another Italian immigrant named Carlo Ponzi who had discovered a new way to get rich quick through a chain letter. “Investors” would pass it on to others and receive interest on their investment. Of course, that “interest” was paid by deposits from later “investors”. Eventually the scheme collapsed, but for many Carlo Ponzi was a hero who showed them that anyone could become rich. That form of scheme is now called a “Ponzi scheme” after Carlo Ponzi.

Well that concludes our brief visit to 1920. We all know what happened after that year and how Prohibition worked out. But in 1920, all that was in the future. It was an exciting year.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:29 PM, 02.02.2020