124 Facts About Happy Chandler


Happy Chandler represented Kentucky in the US Senate and served as its 44th and 49th governor.


The bill passed, and in the ensuing primary, Happy Chandler defeated Laffoon's choice, Thomas Rhea.


Happy Chandler then went on to defeat Republican King Swope by the largest margin of victory for a Kentucky gubernatorial race at that time.


Happy Chandler enacted a major reorganization of state government, realizing significant savings for the state.


Happy Chandler used these savings to pay off the state debt and improve the state's education and transportation systems.


In 1945, Happy Chandler resigned his Senate seat to succeed the late Kenesaw Mountain Landis as commissioner of baseball.


Happy Chandler established the first pension fund for Major League players, earning him the title "the players' commissioner".


Happy Chandler died a month before his ninety-third birthday; at the time, he was the oldest living former Kentucky governor as well as the earliest serving former governor.


Albert Benjamin Happy Chandler was born in the farming community of Corydon, Kentucky, in 1898.


Happy Chandler was the eldest child of Joseph Sweet and Callie Chandler.


Happy Chandler fled the state and left her sons with their father.


Happy Chandler had married again and he had three half-siblings.


Happy Chandler was raised by his father and relatives, and by age 8, he virtually supported himself financially from his paper route and doing odd jobs in his community.


Happy Chandler's father wanted him to study for the ministry, but Chandler instead entered Transylvania College in Lexington, Kentucky.


Happy Chandler paid for his education by doing chores for the local citizens.


Happy Chandler was captain of Transylvania's basketball and baseball teams and the quarterback of the football team.


Happy Chandler was a teammate of Dutch Meyer, a future member of the College Football Hall of Fame.


Happy Chandler joined the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society.


In 1918, during World War I, the United States Army started a Student Officers' Training Corps at Transylvania, and Happy Chandler began training to be an officer.


In 1920, Happy Chandler pitched a no-hitter for Grafton, North Dakota's team in the Red River Valley League.


Happy Chandler attended a professional baseball tryout in Saskatoon but did not make the team.


Happy Chandler returned to Transylvania and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in June 1921.


Happy Chandler then signed with the Class D baseball team the Lexington Reds, where he was a teammate of future Hall of Famer Earle Combs.


Happy Chandler entered Harvard Law School that same year, paying his way by coaching high school sports in Wellesley, Massachusetts.


Happy Chandler returned to Kentucky and continued at the University of Kentucky College of Law, coaching high school sports in Versailles and served as the head coach of the women's basketball at the University of Kentucky in 1923.


Happy Chandler was an assistant coach and scout for Charlie Moran at Centre, and he coached the freshman football team there.


Happy Chandler was admitted to the bar the following year and opened his law practice in Versailles.


On November 12,1925, Happy Chandler married Mildred Lucille Watkins, a teacher at the Margaret Hall School for Girls.


Mimi Happy Chandler played one of the four singing sisters in the 1944 film And the Angels Sing, appearing with Dorothy Lamour, Betty Hutton, and Diana Lynn before abandoning acting and working for the Kentucky Department of Tourism.


Happy Chandler joined numerous fraternal organizations, including the Freemasons, Shriners, Knights Templar, Forty and Eight, and Optimist International.


Happy Chandler entered politics when he was named chairman of the Woodford County Democratic Committee.


Free from any constitutional duties during the time between sessions, Happy Chandler had begun laying the groundwork to succeed Laffoon as governor, almost from the beginning of his term as lieutenant governor.


Happy Chandler feared that Laffoon, who controlled the State Democratic Central Committee, would attempt to handpick the Democratic gubernatorial nominee by calling a nominating convention instead of holding a primary election and so Happy Chandler used a bold move to circumvent Laffoon's ability to carry out such an action.


Under the Kentucky Constitution, Happy Chandler became acting governor whenever Laffoon left the state.


When Laffoon traveled to meet with President Franklin Roosevelt in Washington, DC, on February 6,1935, Happy Chandler used his authority to call the legislature into session to consider a bill that required each party's gubernatorial candidates to be chosen by a primary, rather than a nominating convention.


The votes for Wallis and Huddleston meant that neither Rhea nor Happy Chandler had achieved a majority, which triggered the runoff primary.


Happy Chandler promised to repeal the unpopular sales tax, lower the gasoline tax, oppose any increase in property taxes, and end the common practice of assessing state employees a percentage of their salaries to be used for campaign activities.


When Happy Chandler touted his service during World War I, Laffoon's adjutant general Henry Denhardt countered by pointing out that Happy Chandler had been only a cadet in training and never had engaged in active service in the war.


Happy Chandler defeated Swope by a vote of 556,262 to 461,104 in the general election.


The 95,000-vote margin of victory was then the largest ever recorded in a Kentucky gubernatorial election, and at only 37, Happy Chandler was the youngest governor of any US state.


Happy Chandler successfully lobbied the legislature to abolish the two-round primary, in favor of a single primary for future elections.


Happy Chandler further proposed to achieve savings through the Governmental Reorganization Act of 1936.


Happy Chandler used the savings realized from his reorganization of government to eliminate the state's budget deficit and to pay off most of the state's debt.


Happy Chandler allocated funds for free textbooks for the state's school children, created a teacher's pension fund, and provided extensive funding for the state's colleges and universities.


In 1936, Happy Chandler urged implementation of the state's first rural roads program and development of electrical infrastructure with assistance from the federal Rural Electrification Act.


Happy Chandler implemented an old-age assistance program authorized by an earlier constitutional amendment, and in 1938, he proposed another amendment that would add dependent children and needy blind people to the state's assistance rolls.


Happy Chandler increased funding to the state's hospitals and asylums, and he personally aided with the evacuation of the Frankfort Penitentiary during the Ohio River flood of 1937.


Happy Chandler endorsed the proposed Child Labor Amendment to the US Constitution and secured passage of a state anti-child-labor law that had been defeated twice in the state legislature by overwhelming margins.


In 1936, Happy Chandler was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Kentucky.


Beckham aging, Happy Chandler moved to fill the leadership void in the faction.


Happy Chandler soon came to believe he was destined to become President of the United States.


Eager to augment his power and angered by the refusal of Roosevelt and Barkley to accept his suggestion of appointing Logan to the Supreme Court, Happy Chandler did not attend a long-planned dinner in Barkley's honor on January 22,1938.


Happy Chandler heeded Byrd's advice by making an official announcement of his candidacy on February 23,1938, in Newport, Kentucky.


Happy Chandler identified with the more conservative southern Democrats, who were wary of Roosevelt and sought to gain control of the party ahead of the 1940 presidential election.


Furthermore, Happy Chandler initiated a rural road-building project in the state, employing loyal supporters to construct and maintain the new roads.


State workers who supported Happy Chandler were employed to deliver pension checks to the state's elderly citizens, and Talbott did not deny charges that the workers threatened to withhold the checks if the recipients did not pledge their support to Happy Chandler.


Late in the campaign, Happy Chandler fell ill with chills, stomach pains, and a high fever.


Happy Chandler's doctor announced that Chandler, Dan Talbott, and a state police officer had all been sickened after drinking "poisoned water" that had been provided to Chandler for a radio address.


Happy Chandler maintained that someone from the Barkley campaign had tried to poison him, but the charge never gained much credence with the press or the electorate.


Happy Chandler pointed out to audiences that it was the young Chandler and not Barkley who had broken down first under the strain of the grueling campaign.


On October 9,1939, following the death of Senator Logan, Happy Chandler resigned as governor, elevating Lieutenant Governor Keen Johnson to the governorship.


Chandler's mentor, Harry F Byrd, led a group of Southern conservatives in the Senate, and through Byrd's influence, Chandler was appointed to the Committee on Military Affairs.


Happy Chandler vociferously disagreed with Roosevelt's decision to prioritize the European Theatre in World War II over the pacific Theatre.


Later, Happy Chandler joined with Southern senators in opposing the repeal of poll taxes, which had been long used as a mechanism to prevent blacks from voting.


At the expiration of his partial term in 1942, Chandler faced a challenge from former ally John Y Brown Sr.


Happy Chandler invited the Truman Committee to investigate the installation of the pool and no violations of the federal rationing provisions were found.


Happy Chandler believed that he had enough support at the 1944 Democratic National Convention to be nominated as Roosevelt's running mate for that year's presidential election.


Truman became president upon Roosevelt's death in 1945, and Happy Chandler never forgave Clements for costing him the chance to be US president.


Baseball owners who had been afraid that their players would be made eligible for the draft during the war had decided that their new commissioner needed to have the skills and influence to represent baseball's interests in Washington, D C As a senator, Chandler had advocated on behalf of baseball during the war, which endeared him to the owners.


Happy Chandler's name appeared in the top three on each of the sixteen ballots.


Happy Chandler remained in the Senate for several months after his election as commissioner because he wanted to cast his vote on the Bretton Woods Monetary Agreement and the Charter of the United Nations.


Happy Chandler received only his Senate salary until his resignation on November 1,1945, despite claims to the contrary by the press.


Many owners believed Happy Chandler had been attending a political meeting, but he had actually been at a Detroit Athletic Club luncheon, where he was representing Major League Baseball.


Happy Chandler's election was met with disdain from much of the press in the Eastern United States, where most of baseball's teams resided at that time.


Happy Chandler further alienated the press by moving the commissioner's office to Cincinnati from Chicago in 1946.


Happy Chandler deterred players from considering Mexican League offers by imposing a five-year ban from Major League Baseball to anyone who played in the Mexican League and did not return by April 1,1946.


Happy Chandler worked with Pirates officials to avoid a threatened strike by the players.


Part of Happy Chandler's intervention included organizing a team of replacement players as a contingency plan; the team would have included Honus Wagner, then 72.


Happy Chandler, who was allegedly at the meeting, made no public mention of it until a 1972 interview.


Happy Chandler recounted that later in 1947, Rickey came to his home in Kentucky to discuss the matter further.


That Happy Chandler supported Robinson and the racial integration of baseball is evidenced by his actions during the 1947 season.


Further, after extreme, race-based jeering at Robinson by the Philadelphia Phillies and their manager, Ben Chapman, Happy Chandler threatened both the team and Chapman personally with disciplinary action for any future incidents of race-based taunting.


The move angered Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, who encouraged Happy Chandler to begin an investigation into the gambling habits of Durocher and his associate, actor George Raft.


Happy Chandler suspended Dressen for 30 days and levied $2,000 fines against MacPhail and the Yankees.


Also in 1947, Happy Chandler sold the rights to broadcast the World Series on the radio for $475,000 and used the money from the contract to establish a pension fund for baseball players.


In 1949, Happy Chandler negotiated a seven-year contract with Gillette and the Mutual Broadcasting System to broadcast the Series.


Upset that his contract was not extended, Happy Chandler resigned effective July 15,1951.


Happy Chandler voided the trade, making Wakefield's contract the Yankees' responsibility and angering their owner, Del Webb.


Happy Chandler engaged in farming and published a newspaper, The Woodford Sun.


Happy Chandler continued his involvement in sports, presiding over the International Baseball Conference from 1952 to 1955.


Happy Chandler remained involved in politics throughout his tenure as baseball commissioner.


Happy Chandler hosted Dixiecrat presidential candidate Strom Thurmond at his home when he visited the state but did not officially endorse Thurmond's campaign.


Happy Chandler spent the next four years rebuilding his political base in preparation for another run at the office.


Happy Chandler charged that Combs would raise taxes while promising that he would lower them as he had in his first term.


Happy Chandler claimed that Wetherby had used the state's money frivolously by installing air conditioning in the state capitol and installing a $20,000 rug in his office.


Happy Chandler denounced the construction of a turnpike connecting Elizabethtown and Louisville, the state fairgrounds, and Freedom Hall as unnecessary.


Happy Chandler won the Democratic primary by 18,000 votes over Combs.


Happy Chandler cut the popular Youth Authority, which had been initiated by Wetherby to unify the state's children's welfare programs, but the savings were not enough to balance the budget.


Happy Chandler convinced legislators to pass the budget, promising to propose a tax plan to pay for the expenditures in a subsequent special session.


Still other resistance to Chandler came from a group of more liberal lawmakers, like John B Breckinridge, who simply had philosophical differences with the governor.


Happy Chandler said that the establishment of the school was his proudest achievement as governor.


Just as when he had been baseball commissioner, Happy Chandler faced the issue of racial integration during his second term as governor.


Happy Chandler publicly acknowledged the US Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v Board of Education as the law of the land and promised to enforce it.


On September 4,1956, Happy Chandler called out the National Guard, including a force of over 900 guardsmen and several M47 Patton tanks, to disperse the crowd.


Shortly thereafter, Happy Chandler took similar actions in response to a protest in the town of Clay, which was resolved without violence.


Still convinced that he was destined to become president, Happy Chandler attended the 1956 Democratic National Convention in the hope of securing the party's presidential nomination.


Happy Chandler refused to use his office to support Stevenson, Clements or Wetherby, and Republicans Dwight Eisenhower, John Sherman Cooper, and Thruston Ballard Morton won the presidential and the senatorial races in the state.


In 1957, Happy Chandler was one of ten inaugural members of the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.


Happy Chandler served as a trustee of the Ty Cobb Foundation and Transylvania University.


Happy Chandler proposed for him to be the presidential nominee, with Kennedy as the nominee for vice-president, but the convention chose Kennedy for president instead.


On January 3,1962, Happy Chandler opened a campaign headquarters in Frankfort, announcing his bid for an unprecedented third term as governor with the slogan "ABC [Albert Benjamin Happy Chandler] in 1963".


Happy Chandler reverted to his familiar campaign themes, charging the Combs administration with wasting state funds in the construction of a floral clock at the state capitol and denouncing Combs for re-instituting the state sales tax.


Breathitt enraged Happy Chandler by charging that when Happy Chandler was a senator, he had voted in favor of declaring World War II, but soon afterward, he had resigned his commission as a reserve army captain.


Happy Chandler said that Stimson told him he would rather have a senator than a captain, and then Happy Chandler resigned his commission.


Happy Chandler's explanation did not stop Breathitt from repeating the charge often on the campaign trail.


Happy Chandler lost to Breathitt in the primary by more than 60,000 votes, but his running mate, Harry Lee Waterfield, won the nomination for lieutenant governor.


In 1965, Happy Chandler was named to the University of Kentucky Hall of Distinguished Alumni and became commissioner of the Continental Football League.


Happy Chandler resigned from his COFL position in 1966 after league trustees supported a proposal to allow players from the major professional American football leagues, which he had been told would not happen.


In 1968, Happy Chandler was given serious consideration as the vice-presidential running mate of Alabama's former governor, George Wallace, in the latter's American Independent Party bid for president.


Happy Chandler said that he and Wallace had been unable to come to an agreement on their positions on racial matters.


In 1971, Chandler again entered the gubernatorial race, now as an independent, but he garnered only 39,493 votes, compared to 470,720 for eventual Democratic victor Wendell H Ford, and 412,653 for Republican challenger Tom Emberton.


Wilkinson refused to remove Happy Chandler and urged the crowd to forgive him.


Happy Chandler published his autobiography, Heroes, Plain Folks, and Skunks, in 1989.


Happy Chandler died in Versailles on June 15,1991, and was buried in the church yard of Pisgah Presbyterian Church near Versailles.