Throwing the World Series of Baseball 1919

Felipe Gonzales December 29, 2012 0

In September of 1920, a Chicago grand jury convened to investigate charges about the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds. Meanwhile, an article appeared on September 27, 1920, in the Philadelphia North American in which local gambler Bill Maharg described how White Sox pitcher Ed Cicotte volunteered to fix the Series; how Maharg and his partner, former major leaguer Billy Burns, promised to pay $100,000 to eight White Sox players; how the gamblers doublecrossed the players by paying them only $10,000 at first; how the players double-crossed the gamblers by winning a game they were supposed to lose; and how Burns and Maharg got double-crossed by a rival fixer, New York gambler Abe Attell, who also was bribing the players. The following day, Cicotte agreed to testify to the grand jury and named the players who, from that pointon, became known as the Black Sox. The eight players named were Cicotte, fellow-pitcher Claude “Lefty” Williams, outfielders “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Oscar “Happy” Felsch, infielders Buck Weaver (who had “guilty knowledge” of the fix, but refused to take part in it), Swede Risberg, Chick Gandil, and utility player Fred McMullin.

In grand jury testimony, Gandil emerged as the ringleader, pocketing $35,000. Cicotte received $10,000, and Jackson was paid $5,000 (he was earning about $6,000 a year from tightfisted White Sox owner Charles Comiskey). Arnold Rothstein, the notorious gangster, reputedly masterminded the fix, although his role was never legally proven and he was never charged with a crime. However, following the mysterious disappearance of their confessions, and other legal machinations, the eight Black Sox won acquittal during their June, 1921 conspiracy trial. But the newly appointed baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, in an extraordinarily bold move aimed at restoring public confidence in the game, suspended all eight players for life.

To read more about this story and more history on Baseball read Hall of Fame or Hall of Shame available at the Gamblers Book Club.

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