Eyewitness Reports in History Black Sox Scandal Part 2

An eyewitness account of the Black Sox Scandal in baseball and American history with a fixed World Series.

Black Sox Scandal

Gandil, meanwhile, assembled his cast in a series of "team" meetings. He was sure of the two pitchers, shortstop Charles A. "Swede" Risberg, irrelevant utility infielder Fred McMullin, center fielder Oscar Emil "Happy" Felsch, and left fielder Joseph Jefferson "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, considered one of the greatest hitters who ever lived. Jackson, an illiterate cotton mill hand from South Carolina, had a lifetime batting average of .356. The eighth member of the original conspiracy-begrudging and eventually noncomplying-was third baseman George Davis "Buck" Weaver.

The World Series opened in Cincinnati on Oct. 1. Cicotte got $10,000 up front and signaled Rothstein the deal was assured by plunking the first batter he faced with a pitched ball. The Reds took the opener 9-1 as Cicotte fell apart in the 4th inning, Cincy scoring five runs.

"Lefty" Williams displayed uncharacteristic wildness the next day as the Reds picked up three runs in the 4th inning and won 4-2. By now rumors of the fix were rampant; the Reds were clear favorites to win the Series.

Chicago pitcher Dickie Kerr prevailed 3-0 in Game 3, but two errors by Cicotte handed the Reds two runs and a 2-0 verdict the next day. Gandil had blown several chances to drive in Chicago runs.

Williams was the loser in Game 5, with Felsch and Risberg making costly fielding mistakes. The Reds won 5-0 and led the Series 4-1.

Then the White Sox rebounded. They took Game 6 in 10 innings behind Kerr. In Game 7 Cicotte, resentful of Kerr's success, ignored the deal and beat the Reds 4-1. Back in New York, Rothstein was nervous and ordered Gandil, via his agents, to end the thing in Game 8. Quickly. To make certain, Williams was warned that his wife would be hurt if he didn't fold in the 1st inning. He did-the Reds scoring four quick runs-and the fix was complete.

Gandil received $80,000 combined from Sullivan and Burns and kept $35,000 for himself. Everybody but Weaver was paid off; "Buck" had 11 hits in the Series. Jackson, recipient of $5,000, had batted .375 against the Reds.

The winner's official shares in the 1919 Series were $5,000 per player.

Despite attempts by Comiskey to keep a lid on nagging reports of the fix, a grand jury probed the case in September, 1920, when the Sox were fighting for another pennant with nearly the same roster. (Only Gandil was gone; he "retired" in California.) The Chicago owner was forced to suspend the suspected players. Indictments followed, but by the time the case went to trial in the summer of 1921, the confessions of Jackson, Cicotte, and Williams had mysteriously disappeared.

The baseball Establishment provided legal assistance to the players, and a jury voted acquittal. But "the Game," via newly hired strongman Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, barred the eight players for life. The nonathlete fixers, Sullivan, Burns, Attell, and Rothstein, escaped judicial punishment.

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