Little Bits of History

Black Sox

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 28, 2011

Black Sox Scandal

September 28, 1920: Eight members of the Chicago White Sox are indicted for throwing the 1919 World Series in what became known as the Black Sox Scandal. Local gamblers, with the backing of Arnold Rothstein from New York City, promised a payout of $100,000 (well over $1 million in today’s dollars) to Arnold “Chick” Gandil and seven of his teammates. Gandil, the Sox first baseman, and Joseph “Sport” Sullivan, a local gambler, thought up the scheme.

The 1919 World Series was between Chicago and the Cincinnati Reds. Even prior to the first game, played October 1, there were rumors that the games were fixed. The White Stockings were formed in 1900 by Charles Cominsky. Their name changed in 1902 to the White Sox, and by 1903 they were winning league championships. Cominsky built a strong team. They were, however, a very unhappy team.

Cominsky grossly underpaid his players. He made promises that he did not fulfill. The players were so disgruntled that once they wore the same unwashed uniforms for several games until Cominsky broke into their lockers, confiscated the uniforms, and fined the players. The players were also divided amongst themselves. There were two factions with one side led by second baseman Eddie Collins. These men were more educated, sophisticated, and had an average annual salary of $15,000. Gandil’s clique were more diamonds in the rough and averaged only $6,000. The salary difference was a major stumbling block.

As early as October 15, 1919, Cominsky offered a reward for information about any fix. Two months later, The New York World published an article claiming wrongdoing. Rumors flew throughout the 1920 season. Suspicion of corruption spread to other men on other teams as well. By early September 1920,Cook County convened a Grand Jury investigation into the allegations. On September 24, Rube Beaton testified about the scheme and within days that testimony was made public. Their trial began in July 1921 and all eight players were found not guilty. However, in November of 1920 Kenesaw Mountain Landis became head of a newly formed baseball commission. Regardless of the acquittal, Landis banned all eight players from professional baseball forever more.

“Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked gamblers and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball.” -Kenesaw Mountain Landis

“I’ve loved baseball ever since Arnold Rothstein fixed the World Series in 1919.” – Hyman Roth in The Godfather Part II

“Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.” – Oscar Wilde

“We never search for scandal, but we use it if it cries out to excess.” – Peter Utley

Also on this day:
Victory – In 1781, George Washington began his assault on Yorktown, the last battle of the Revolutionary War.
Hostage Taking – In 1975, the Spaghetti House siege began.

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