Seven Men Out: The Stories of the Non-Joe Jackson Black Sox

Eddie Cicotte is one of the other Eight Men Out. (via Library of Congress)

Eddie Cicotte is one of the other seven men out. (via Library of Congress)

The fable of Shoeless Joe Jackson is as classic to Americana as Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. He is a known commodity in the baseball world and a familiar name to semi-casual fans and non-baseball-fans alike. On multiple occasions, Hollywood has chronicled Shoeless Joe’s storied past and tragic fate. Jackson’s legacy lives on in large part due to two films dedicated to the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

Jackson served as one of the main characters in the 1988 film entitled Eight Men Out, based on Eliot Asinof’s 1964 book, and again two years later when W.P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe became a blockbuster starring Kevin Costner, one of the foremost actors of the day. In both films, Jackson represents purity in a game in which exogenous forces (gamblers) successfully corrupt it to the detriment of a seemingly innocent fan base. Eight Men Out brought the phrase “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” back into the American lexicon, and Costner’s character in Field of Dreams serves as an apologist for Jackson, even going so far as to point out notable achievements of the star outfielder in the 1919 World Series.

This article, however, is intentionally not about Joe Jackson; it is specifically about the other seven members of the banned “Black Sox.” These men’s banishment is discussed throughout baseball in the most generic terms, and few fans know their names, let alone their baseball histories.

Due to their mostly mediocre and forgettable careers, the “seven men out” barely had their stories told despite most of them coming together to win a World Series in 1917 and combining to win the pennant in 1919. The nefarious bond holding all eight of the players together is one of the most infamous scandals in the history of modern organized sports, yet seven of the eight have fallen into oblivion.

The 1920 court acquittal of all the players charged with “conspiracy to defraud” did little to mitigate the damage done to each player’s legacy. Despite their being cleared of all legal charges, Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, in a sweeping gesture of reform, banned all eight men from participating in professional baseball forever, a profoundly harsh – though seemingly necessary – step to bring legitimacy back to the game. Below is a chronicle of the misfits who made up “the other” Black Sox, a look at the “seven men out” we barely know.

Eddie Cicotte (pronounced SEE-cot)

Born in Southern Michigan to French-Canadian parents in 1884, the 5-foot-9 Cicotte did not “wow” anyone with his size but rather with his pitches. His knuckleball danced enough to earn him the distinction of being perhaps the first big leaguer to master the pitch, and he leaned heavily on it throughout his career. Supplementing it with a slider, screwball, spitter, energy ball, shine ball, and rising fastball, Cicotte owned an impressive mix of pitches. Always the control pitcher (he boasted a 5.6 percent walk rate), one specific throw on a fabled autumn day defines his legacy: Cicotte hit leadoff Reds’ hitter Morrie Rath directly in the back to lead off the 1919 Fall Classic – supposedly the pitch that signaled to the gamblers he was in on the fix and a Reds victory was a fait accompli.

Cicotte earned his first major league tryout at age 21 when the Detroit Tigers sent him to the South Atlantic League to refine his impressive, but raw, stuff. In September, the Tigers called him up to the big leagues, where he pitched in 18 innings before a multi-year detour through the American Association and Western League.

Impressed by the number of pitches Cicotte could control, the Red Sox purchased his contract after the 1907 season and put him directly into their rotation. He was a mostly average pitcher for Boston, posting a 102 league-adjusted earned run average and often serving as the scapegoat for the Red Sox’s failed seasons. In July of 1912, Charlie Comiskey purchased his contract from Boston, and it was in Chicago that Cicotte turned into a perennial star pitcher.

During his early years in Chicago, Cicotte’s control improved to fewer than two walks per nine innings. From 1912 until his banishment, he finished in the top 10 in fewest walks per nine innings, including leading the league in both 1917 and 1918. Additionally, he was top 10 in strikeouts per nine innings during the same period. Despite a soft fastball that did not overpower hitters, Cicotte mastered the loose rules of the time, perfecting a “shine ball” that he rubbed against the talcum powder on the side of his leg.

Cicotte became “Comiskey’s guy,” having a career year in 1917 en route to Chicago’s second pennant in three years. With a $5,000 contract and a $2,000 signing bonus, Cicotte became one of the highest-compensated players in the game. Despite his financial success compared to his peers, the allure of earning multiple times his salary in a week was too much to pass up. Not willing to risk his reputation and his livelihood for a minimal reward, he made it clear he would throw the World Series for no less than $10,000. Three days before the Series started, a cool ten grand found its way under his hotel pillow.

Predictably, Cicotte pitched awfully in the first game of the 1919 Fall Classic, giving up seven hits and six runs in just 3.2 innings. In his second start in Game Four of the Series, the Reds mustered just five hits, but two unearned runs came off two Cicotte throwing errors that seemed atypical of a player of his stature. He threw a complete game in Game Seven, giving up only one earned run and allowing only 10  base runners, but it did not matter, as the Sox lost the Series in the next game, just as they intended.

Cicotte pitched well in 1920 amid a flurry of court appearances. His confession ended his baseball career, and he became a pariah of the game as quickly as he had become a hero. For the next quarter century, Cicotte worked as a strawberry farmer on a small parcel of land in Michigan, a world away from a baseball diamond, his reputation forever tarnished by the scandal.

George “Buck” Weaver

Buck Weaver was born in Pottstown, Pa., 40 miles outside Philadelphia. He started his professional baseball career in the Atlantic League in 1908 and joined the Connecticut State League in 1910. Renowned for his passionate style of play, he caught the eye of Philadelphia Phillies’ manager Red Dooin, who purchased his contract for the Phillies, though the White Sox snagged him from Philly before he played an inning in the majors. Weaver made his major league debut in 1912 and played his entire career with the White Sox until his banishment in 1921. Though few ever believed he threw the 1919 World Series games, there was enough evidence to make it obvious he knew “the fix was in” despite claiming he never participated in any of it.

A defense-first shortstop, Weaver eventually moved over to third base in the middle of his career. He  got off to quite the rocky start, however, and in his rookie season he led the league in errors and walked only nine times in 553 plate appearances. Despite his struggles, the White Sox pegged Weaver as their starting shortstop, which paid off in 1913 when he hit .272 and posted 3.6 fWAR. He stayed at shortstop until 1916, when he started splitting time at both short and third, and became a full-time third baseman in 1917. Never much of a hitter, Weaver finished his career with a 91 wRC+ and tallied only 21 total home runs in over 1,200 games.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

A typical light-hitting shortstop and third basemen, Weaver led the league in sacrifices in 1915 and 1916. Though he did manage 173 career stolen bases, catchers threw him out 90 times. Weaver did manage to post 20.3 fWAR over the course of his career, largely due to his impeccable fielding. As a  testament to his superb glove, Weaver is reportedly the only third basemen against whom Ty Cobb would never bunt.

Weaver’s post-baseball legacy is defined by his attempts to distance himself from the other “Black Sox.” He requested his own separate trial and applied for reinstatement on numerous occasions. Landis took a hard-line stance against Weaver, saying that any player who met with gamblers who wanted to fix games would be banned from the game regardless of his on-field performance. Weaver’s crime was essentially his silence in not alerting the authorities of the corrupt scheme, though his fate was identical to the other “fixers.”

In Weaver’s post-baseball life, he served as a painter for the city of Chicago and got into the drug store business. Charles Walgreen offered Weaver a partnership in what would become a drugstore empire; regretfully, Weaver declined.

In 1927, he again petitioned Landis for reinstatement, to no avail. His last attempt to be in baseball’s good graces came when he was an elderly man. Weaver petitioned Commissioner Ford Frick one last time in 1953, only to be denied yet again. He died in Chicago in 1956 at the age of 65.

Oscar “Happy” Felsch

Happy Felsch grew up in Milwaukee and followed a path similar past to many ballplayers in the early 20th century as a first-generation American. The son of German immigrants, he left school at the age of 13 to roam the outfield in various sandlots and refine his skill around town. Felsch was on the front line of the scandal, and his account of the World Series “fix” served as the primary source for Asinof’s book, though his name is little-known.

Felsch is somewhat a mysterious character, as his birth certificate has never been found, and his height and weight are merely approximations. Bouncing between laborer jobs such as a factory worker and roof shingler, his resolve remained, and he found his way into semi-pro ball throughout the state, eventually working his way into the American Association, his contract purchased by the Brewers.  Several teams scouted him in his last full season with the Brewers, and the White Sox purchased his contract in 1914.

In his rookie season of 1915, Felsch served as a semi-regular player who played in 121 games for Chicago, hitting .248/.334/.363, good enough for a 1.4 fWAR. He moved into a full-time role in his sophomore season, when he hit seven of the White Sox’ 17 team home runs and became one of the Deadball Era’s best outfielders. Felsh led the team to a 1917 World Series victory where he hit .273 and blasted a home run.

Felsch’s happy-go-lucky reputation and excellent skill set belied his lack of intellectual sophistication.  As the pride of Milwaukee, Happy served as folk hero to baseball fans throughout the Midwest. Fans from Wisconsin would drive to Chicago just to see Felsch play – particularly in that season’s Fall Classic – and having him on the team served as not only a great on-field asset but as a publicity magnet as well.

The 1917 season served as a banner year for Felsch. He finished the season with a .308 batting average and 128 wRC+, and he drove in as many runs as Cobb, the pinnacle of hitters at the time. Being the toast of Chicago was short-lived; as the intensity and brutality of World War I worsened soon thereafter, major league baseball felt the upheaval.

Felsch went to visit his brother, who had been wounded at an army camp. Distraught and depressed, Happy left the Sox in the middle of the season. The smoke from the 1917 celebratory cigars barely wafted into the air before Felsch left the majors to work for the Milwaukee Gas Company as part of the war effort. During his brief stint away from professional ball, Felsch held unskilled jobs in his hometown and played in various semi-pro events and games before being called by the White Sox to rejoin the squad in 1919.

The fabled 1919 season rekindled some glory of the past for Felsch, as he led the American League in outfield assists and double plays (his 15 outfield double plays are still a major league record). His production was not limited to defense: Felsch hit .275 and overall at the plate finished his career 13 percent above league average. His 24 home runs between 1915 and 1919 were the most of any White Sox player in the decade.

Despite being under investigation related to the Series, Felsch’s best season came in 1920. He hit 14 home runs (good for fourth in the league) and posted a 139 wRC+, good for 5.4 fWAR. With the outlawing of trick pitches (such as the aforementioned shine ball) and the requirement that an unmarred ball be used, Felsch finally came into his own as a hitter. His career ended that September despite the Indians only being a half game ahead of the White Sox in the standings. With the 1919 World Series scandal on the front pages of the news, Felsch was suspended and never played another game.

Felsch’s lack of education and street smarts ultimately served as his demise. When he joined the White Sox, he immediately fell into the card-playing, gambler-affiliated group of players. He admitted to accepting the money but never confessed that he did anything to throw the Series. Additionally detrimental, Felsch was connected with other gambling scandals from 1917 and during the 1919 regular season. Though Judge Landis exonerated him from those scandals, it was largely viewed as a formality, since his legacy was already defined by the corrupt World Series. If not for that infamy, Happy likely would be viewed as one of the best outfielders of a bygone era.

Felsch spent his middle-aged years bouncing between small-town clubs in the United States and Canada. Though he could get work as a ballplayer, he would never transcend his tarnished name and reputation, and his professional career effectively was finished. As an older man, Happy and his wife opened a tavern in Milwaukee. To supplement the couple’s income, he eventually took a job as a crane operator before retiring to a life of leisure before passing away at age 73.

Arnold “Chick” Gandil

A journeyman who played for three teams (including the White Sox twice), Chick Gandil was one of the best first basemen in the American League in the 1910s. Born in 1888 in St. Paul, Minn. to Swiss immigrants, Gandil grew up on the West Coast and gained a reputation as a malcontent at an early age. After only playing two years of high school ball in Oakland, he dropped out of school and left home to make his way in the world on his own. As a young man, Chick played semi-pro ball in Texas while supplementing his income as a boilermaker in various copper mines. He eventually made his way south of the border to play in a Mexican baseball league, during which time he also earned some money in unsanctioned heavyweight boxing matches.

After the 1908 season in Mexico, the St. Louis Browns drafted Gandil, though he failed to make the club. He ended up on a team in Fresno, where he was arrested for stealing $225 from the club. He made his major league debut in 1910 but was not a strong enough hitter to stick in the bigs that season. Gandil improved and eventually became a staple in the Washington Senators infield, and he received MVP votes in two consecutive years (1912 and 1913).

He had great success during his tenure in Washington, never posting a wRC+ below 104, and in three years hit 20 percent above league average. Despite his breakout in D.C., the Senators sold his contract to Cleveland before the 1916 season, in some part due to his hard living. Gandil chain-smoked and was notorious for sneaking a cigarette in the dugout between innings, much to the irritation of Washington management. Gandil lasted only one year in Cleveland before the White Sox purchased his contract.

Gandil manned first base for the World Series champion 1917 White Sox, hitting .273 and stealing 16 bases. Although he did not amass a ton of stolen bases throughout his career, he was opportunistic on the basepaths, successfully stealing 153 of 185 bases he attempted.

Gandil served as one of the key cogs in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. After World War I, the owners shortened the major league season to cut costs. Although his monthly salary remained the same, reducing the length of the season cut Gandil’s salary from $4,000 to $3,500. Feeling betrayed and frustrated by the de facto reduction in salary, he led the charge in fixing the World Series and pocketing life-altering cash. Gandil reportedly was the main money runner during the fix, though he pocketed most of the money given to the players by the gamblers – Gandil reportedly took home over $35,000 to the other players’ $10,000.

After receiving his ill-gotten windfall, he and his wife absconded to California, far from the Windy City that was dealing with the aftermath of the scandal. He tried to play baseball in other semipro leagues but ultimately found it difficult to get back onto the field consistently. He continually denied his involvement in the scandal, though his coffers and reputation preceded him, and it is generally acknowledged he served as a key party in the entire affair. Gandil died in 1970 in California at the age of 82.

Claude “Lefty” Williams

Born in Aurora, Mo. to a farming family, Lefty Williams dropped out of high school to help support his family. After working as a grocery boy during his younger years, he signed a contract to play in the independent Kansas-Missouri League in 1911. His unconventional pitching mechanics led to wildness  in the independent league, though his raw skills remained in high demand. The Southern Association’s Nashville Vols purchased his contract hoping he could harness better control, but the team ultimately gave up on him and farmed him out to the Appalachian League. Eventually, Nashville sold Williams’  contract to the Brooklyn Dodgers, though he never played one inning with the big league club.

After another stint in Nashville, Williams made his major league debut for the Detroit Tigers in 1913 when he threw 29 innings. After he struggled in his much-shortened season and made only one start the following year, Detroit sold his contract to the Pacific Coast League Sacramento Wolves. Williams  turned heads in an exhibition in which the Wolves played the White Sox. With the continued financial struggles of the Wolves,  the White Sox bought his contract.

His first season with the White Sox turned out to be one of the best of his career. Williams pitched  224.1 innings and had the third-highest strikeout rate in the majors, behind only Larry Cheney and Walter Johnson. His 2.89 ERA was right around league average, but his fielding independent pitching 2.35 was 16 percent better than league average.

Williams served as another key piece of the World Series champion team the following season, although he did not pitch as well as he did in 1916. His strikeout rate fell to nearly half of what it was in his rookie campaign, and his walk rate increased.

He avoided war-time service and spent most of the war pitching in the Delaware River Shipbuilding League, an industrial league that employed players who did not deploy to the front. He came back to the White Sox in 1919 to start a league-leading 40 games, including taking the hill 10 times in July alone. He threw 27 complete games over 297 innings. His ERA was 17 percent better than league average, and he posted five wins above replacement. Additionally, Williams nailed down his control and ranked fourth in the American League in walks per nine innings. He was having a career-defining season until Gandil came to him with a proposition about how to make some seemingly easy cash.

Believing the gamblers already had who they needed to throw the series against the Reds, Williams agreed to go along with the plan for $10,000. Despite the huge step forward in control, he “lost” his command in the middle of his first World Series start and walked six batters in eight innings en route to a 4-2 loss. The control issues were so surprising, White Sox catcher Ray Schalk suspected something and confronted him after the game.

Williams’ performance in Game Five was not nearly as dubious as his first start, but the White Sox lost 5-0 anyway. Game Eight sealed the fate of Williams and the 1919 White Sox. Facing only five batters and getting only one out, he gave up four hits, four walks, and four runs. The White Sox went on to lose the clincher, 10-5.

He rejoined the White Sox in 1920, but with the shadow of the offseason circus, he had merely an average season. His last career start came Sept. 25, 1920; he admitted his role in the fixed series two days later. His major league baseball career effectively over, Williams had to figure out a way to make ends meet without an education and without a marketable skill.

Williams continued playing in various small-town leagues at a fraction of his salary with Chicago. After working as a carpenter and gardener, he moved to California and started his own nursery business. Lefty Williams died at age 66 after a battle with Hodgkin’s disease.

Charles “Swede” Risberg

Swede Risberg had the shortest career of any of the banned Black Sox and is among the lesser knowns of the “Eight Men Out.” The son of Swedish immigrants, Risberg grew up in northern California. Contrary to the myth he dropped out of school in the third grade, he actually dropped out in the eighth grade to go into semi-pro and professional baseball as a young adult. Always the West Coast kid, Swede put on an attitude of toughness, fighting with teammates and umpires alike. His rowdiness and rambunctiousness served as a defense mechanism to combat his homesickness, which management was aware of throughout his career.

Risberg tried out for the Pacific Coast League Vernon Tigers, and he quickly became a full-time utility player. White Sox owner Charlie Comiskey first saw Risberg play during an exhibition game against Chicago and purchased his contract from Vernon the following year.

A defense-first infielder, Swede hit nearly 20 percent below league average in his 1917 rookie campaign. His offense was so anemic, White Sox skipper Pants Rowland eventually benched him in favor of Weaver, who took over as the shortstop late in the season, leaving Swede to man first base for 22 games.

in 1918, he left the team thinking he would either enlist in the military or work for the war effort. He returned to California to enlist but ended up taking a job at a shipyard that enabled him to play a decent amount of ball in an industrial league.

The following season, Chicago signed Swede to a two-year, $3,250 contract, making him one of the worst-paid White Sox starters on the team. He continued to battle Weaver for time at short and played the position only 97 times all season.

His battles as he tried to wrestle more playing time for himself did not occur only on the field, but off it  as well, as the White Sox splintered into the more-educated and less-educated cliques. Risberg easily fell in with the less-educated group led by Gandil and, unsurprisingly, was on the ground floor of the Black Sox scandal. He took home somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 for his role in the Series fix and even went out of his way to contact Joe Gedeon (a friend who played for the St. Louis Browns) to tell him to bet on the Reds. (Gedeon subsequently also was banned due to his prior knowledge of the conspiracy and decision to not tell anyone about it.)

Risberg manned shortstop in all eight games of the 1919 World Series but played miserably. He went an awful 2-for-25 and made four errors in the field, including botching key double plays and making a throwing error that led to multiple Cincy runs. Like his corrupt brethren, Risberg was banned from the game in 1920.

Swede had plenty of career ahead of him after his departure from the majors, as he was only 25 years old when Landis banned him. He traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada earning pay in semi-pro and what came to be known as “outlaw” leagues. Due to his itinerant and wayfaring lifestyle, his personal life went into shambles, and his wife divorced him in 1922. That summer, he reconnected with Cicotte, Williams, Weaver and Felsch to join a traveling team. The nefarious quintet fell apart amid a lack of competent management, ending with Risberg punching Cicotte in the mouth after an argument about money.

Swede eventually moved to Minnesota to play with the independent Rochester Aces, where he also operated a small egg-producing farm. Felsch joined Swede on a Montana-based mining company team in the 1930s, but eventually Risberg moved back home to California. His health deteriorated as he grew older, and he passed away in 1975.

Fred McMullin

Fred McMullin served as an unheralded utility player for the 1919 White Sox but got caught up in the Black Sox scandal nevertheless. He amassed the least career value of any of the other banned players and played in only 304 total career games. He is most known for joining the starting lineup for both the 1917 and 1919 White Sox at the time of their late-season surge, though statistically speaking, his personal impact was minimal.

The first of nine children, McMullin was born in Kansas and grew up in southern California. His baseball career took a bit longer to develop than the other Black Sox, as he first played semi-professional ball in 1910 with the Long Beach Sand Crabs. He bounced around the Southern State League, Northwestern League and various winter leagues on the West Coast before making it to the bigs.

The Detroit Tigers had an agreement with the Tacoma Tigers of the Northwestern League and continually monitored McMullin’s development. Detroit did not have much room for him in the infield, so he rode the pine for several weeks before getting the call to his first major league at-bat and his only plate appearance of the season. He ended up back in Tacoma the following season and spent the winter of 1914 playing for an Imperial Valley winter league team in California. The Yankees and White Sox ended up in a battle for McMullin, with the Tigers well positioned to get rid of him due to their staffed infield. The White Sox purchased his contract, and McMullin played 68 games in his rookie season in Chicago.

His first two seasons, McMullin hit well below league average and never posted an fWAR above 0.8. He entered the 1918 season positioned as the starting third baseman for Chicago. He started the year off strongly, but Ray Chapman spiked him in a May 30 game, which put him on the shelf for three weeks. The Sox rushed him back due to additional injuries on the team and more players lost to World War I later in the season. Even McMullin himself enlisted in the Navy after the government’s edict that all able-bodied men needed to support the war effort.

After the war, in 1919, the White Sox continued to roll, and again plugged him into the starting rotation at the time of their surge into first place. The team officially clinched the pennant on Sept. 24, though it was clear by the latter part of summer that Chicago would win the American League.

Most sources agree McMullin’s involvement in the scandal was more happenstance than anything else, though there is some debate. In one version, McMullin overheard other players discussing their plan to throw the series and threatened to alert Major League Baseball unless he got a share of the money. Contrary to that story, Cicotte characterized McMullin an accomplice to Gandil, one of the main organizers of the scheme. Earning one of the lowest salaries on the team, there certainly existed motivation, as McMullin garnered a significant sum for a week’s worth of “work” despite barely playing in any World Series games. In the eight games against the Reds, McMullin came to the plate only twice, making an out in Game One and hitting a single in Game Two.

He played in winter ball after the 1919 Series, but 1920 was easily his worst year in the majors, and he appeared in only 46 games. With the trial and scandal hanging over his head, McMullin found it difficult to play in any semi-professional leagues, and he moved back to California. Broke, he did not have the money to travel to Chicago for the trial. California refused to extradite him, and no one in the courts cared enough to pay his way back to Chicago.

McMullin never publicly denied his wrongdoings, nor did he apply for reinstatement. He lived a quiet and overlooked life, eventually suffering a massive stroke that killed him at the age of 61.

References and Resources


Steven Martano is an editor and featured writer at SB Nation's Beyond The Box Score and a contributing prospect writer for Purple Row. Follow him on Twitter @SMartano.
11 Comments
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Mike
6 years ago

interesting doesn’t do this piece justice

well done and thank you

Vince
6 years ago

Great read. Minor, and I mean minor – “Facing only five batters and getting only one out, he gave up four hits, four walks, and four runs.” Had to be more than five batters, no?

Marty
6 years ago
Reply to  Vince

Correct. In that Game 8 of the WS, Williams didn’t walk anyone. He faced five batters but only got one of them out. 1/3 of an inning pitched, 4 hits, 4 earned runs. Yikes.

cktai
6 years ago
Reply to  Vince

According to the game log on baseball-reference, Lefty Williams gave up no walks, only four hits and four runs in game 8. Remarkably, he gave up exactly four hits and four runs in each of the three games he pitched during those world series.

Lefty G
6 years ago

Fantastic read, Mr. Martano. Thank you.

David Horwich
6 years ago

“The 1920 court acquittal of all the players charged with “conspiracy to defraud” did little to mitigate the damage done to each player’s legacy.”

The players were indicted in 1920, but their trial and acquittal came in 1921.

Pounder
6 years ago

Joe Gedeon, number 9 on the hit list.

Rainy Day Women 12x35e
6 years ago

Excellent article. Some context would have been illuminating. For example, Cicotte had been promised a healthy bonus for winning 30 games in 1917. He’d won 29 with ample opportunity for the 30th, which is when owner Comiskey ordered him benched. Comiskey, a notorious cheapskate, forced the players to pay for their uniforms to be cleaned! The players refused at one point, playing in their duty uniforms to make a point, which is why they were known (before the 1919 series) as the Black Sox, for their dirty uniforms. Comiskey’s tight-fistedness does not justify throwing the series, but would it have happened with a fairer owner? We’ll never know. But the contest is important. The 7, treated fairly, may have refused the crooked overtures of Rothstein.

Geoff Young
6 years ago

More recent research indicates that Comiskey did not order Cicotte benched: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/black-sox-scandal-cold-case-not-closed-case

See also “Scandal on the South Side” by Pomrenke et al., particularly pages 246, 252, 275, and 276.

Marc Schneider
6 years ago
Reply to  Geoff Young

I had read something to the effect that “Eight Men Out” was not completely accurate and that, therefore, the movie also wasn’t accurate. What’s interesting is that Bob Costas interviewed John Sayles, the director of the movie, which was essentially taken directly from the book. Even at the time, I think there was some question about the verisimilitude of the book but Costas didn’t bring it up, presumably not wanting to ask uncomfortable questions to his guest. The book had a number of incidents that became legend, such as the notion that gamblers threatened Lefty Williams’ family before the last game-this apparently did not happen. So, it’s really hard to know what happened and Asimov seems to have done a pretty poor job of research, suggesting that he already knew how he wanted to present it before he started writing the book.

However, I don’t think that the fact that the White Sox were well-paid relative to the rest of the league necessarily dispels the notion that ballplayers in general were underpaid because of their lack of bargaining power and that resentment to the owners might have played a key part in their willingness to throw the Series.

Jackie Treehorn
6 years ago

The aforementioned Comiskey context is important to understanding the story, the possible motivations of the players. And as this scandal occurred many decades before free agency, the players didn’t have any real options to counter what they considered unfair treatment from their owner.