tv 1919 Black Sox World Series Fix CSPAN April 23, 2021 8:00pm-9:11pm EDT
sunday on c-span 3 next historian david petruzza describes the 1919 world series fix by members of the chicago white sox which came to be known as the black sox scandal. he talks about how book and film portrayals of the fix shaped public perceptions at what happened david petrusa is the author of two books on the subject rothstein the lifetimes and murder of the criminal genius who fixed the 1919 world series and judge and jury about baseball's first commissioner. okay. i like to welcome you all to the village library of cooperstown on the director here david kent
and we're very fortunate tonight to have a steamed historian and or winning right writer. who is not only an historian but he's a he's very into baseball and so it's a good combination because right now it's the 100th anniversary of one of the most infamous scandals in baseball history the black sox scandal where members of the chicago white sox were accused of throwing the world series to the cincinnati reds and it brought about many changes in baseball including getting a commissioner and getting eight players on the white sox ban from baseball for life. so, but the story of that is not really a simple one. it's very complicated. so the title of tonight's talk is called field of miss when under years after baseball's 1919 black sox scandal.
finally separating the many myths from the reality. so this should be a fascinating talk and i am decided to welcome david pietrusza our speaker tonight. well, thank you. yeah, we're gathered here tonight. on the eve of this year's world series and 100 years ago. well who know if there were going to be another world series once that scandal was exposed and whether trust in baseball was starting to evaporate very rapidly. and as david said that's you know eight men out that's the story that we know that was the title of a book. that was a movie there were, you know, the legends have spawned about that and it wasn't it wasn't the start of trouble in river city. shall we say? a gambling had been rife in
baseball since the very beginning of the sport people, you know, think of all the gambling in in america the you know, the riverboat gamblers and the card sharks out west and people like that. it's it's always been there. and so in baseball in troy new york when that was a major league team there were gambling scandals or rumors of fixes in louisville in 1877. four players were four players then were banned for life and an umpire was thrown out a guy named -- higham in 1882. he's the only be umpire who's ever been thrown now, there were rumors of world series fixes almost as soon as there was the modern world series which really starts at the turn of the 20th century. and in the year before the 1919 world series in 1918.
there's a perspective scandal brewing on the cincinnati reds. now the white sox play the reds, but there was a scandalous goings on in cincinnati with the first baseman named hal chase and his manager christy matthews matthews and thought he had the goods on chase and chase was really notorious. but baseball didn't do anything about it, and that was the story up to about 1919 and 1920 where the rumors would occur but baseball would turn a blind eye to everything so that when the black sox conspire to throw that 1919, you know, people say well, why did they do that? why did they do that? well, was a high payoff and it seemed to be a low risk because your employers were not about to bounce you and really do anything about it because it was very bad publicity for the
business the business of baseball. now who are the eight players who are banned? let's go around the diamond. the first one is a guy named chick. gandal. he's a he's a fairly. good fielding first baseman, but he's sort of in the middle of the pack of american league or major league first baseman. i never come with a slide presentation to these talks, but i really wish i had a slide to show you of chick candle because here's a guy who looks like a complete criminal. i mean this this is one bad looking dude and a fittingly enough, you know, maybe you can't tell a book by its cover but he was the basic ring leader of the of the whole fix and then you had a a utility infielder who seem to be a friend of his guy named fred mcmullen in terms of play in the world series. he only gets to at bats and actually gets a hit but he wants in and he's going to be let in
at shortstop a guy named swede risberg described by shoeless joe jackson as a hard guy a tough guy a guy you didn't want to cross on the team. he's a decent feel there. not that much of a hither and at third base is one of the more problematic members of this octet in terms of guilt and culpability. his name is buck weaver, and he's one of actually one of the top third baseman in the american league. probably number two the home run baker who had been part of the million dollar in field with with connie max a's and we'll talk more about weaver later on in center field a really good fielder a guy named oscar happy felsh and he has some power he ties for the team lead and home runs in 1919 with i think oh eight or nine.
it's the tale and the dead ball era the lively ball era of babe ruth is gonna really start up the next year, but it's not quite there in 1919 and then you have pictures you need pictures involved in throwing a world series and the gamblers and people like gandal. have as part of the conspiracy the two best pitchers on the chicago white sox eddie secott, who is a real trickball pitcher and knuckleball pitcher shine ball pitchery might rub something on his on his pants and then rub the ball on that to make the things scoot this way or that way. he's a 29 game winner that year and then the other picture is i think a 23 game winner. he's a much younger pitcher. his name is claude lefty williams his he comes from quite the town and in south southern missouri which even though it's
only got about 2 or 3,000 people and it even to this day include the barker the mob barker gang from the bank robbers from the 1930s came from the same small town and also a guy who shot up a synagogue in overland park in kansas city the same same town, so i don't know what this chamber of commerce says about that. but it's going to be a best of nine game world series, so it's different in a lot of ways. and why is that baseball had previously had best of seven series? but 1919 follows 1918 follows world war one world war. i really disrupts baseball because they issue what is called a work or fight order. and that means that if you're not involved in the war effort either in uniform or some other way, they're going to draft you.
they're gonna do selective service. pull your name out of a out of a fish bowl or something and saying you over the france. so baseball doesn't know if it's going to continue in 1919 until the armistice comes around in november 1918 in 1918. the season is cut down to 142 games series season recall that up until 1961 with expansion in the american league. it's 156 game series. so there's fewer games. there's fewer attendance. there's there's much less revenue that year and with that work or fight order. there's a way you can get around that and that involves going to work in a defense plant in the defense related industry. and what's one of the biggest industries is shipyards, you know, we've got to get all those guys over the france. so we need boats we need we've got to put them on and so
there's a big shipyard in delaware and schulich joe jackson and lefty williams and a reserve catcher for the white sox a palla. there's named bird lynn go over work there and oscar happy felch goes and works for a shipyard or defense plant in milwaukee. so the core a good core of them of the black sox of the white sox are jumping and this is the way the owner of the white sox charles commitski interprets that jumping the team to go. get these jobs into the fence plants or in the shipyards. they're highly paid and a lot of people see these guys as slackers. as draft dodgers as unpatriotic because they're they're drawing a good salary to stay out of the war and and play baseball for these for for these shipyards on
the weekends. comiskey doesn't even want to let these guys back in comiskey is also opposed to this nine-game series idea world series and comiskey is is portrayed as a great money-grubber money grabber and we will deal more with that later on but he's opposed to the nine-game series. why is he just a traditionalist a conservative? well, maybe but remember what i said about seacott at ecot and lefty williams the two pictures. they've got 29 wins and 23 games a win's respect to respectively but really, you know in the short series you can get away with a smaller rotation, but this is a longer series they are planning no off days because cincinnati and chicago are so close. well, really, they're not that close, but they were going to
have no off days. so you needed a deeper pitching staff and really the sox that year. hit were really stuck behind seacott and williams and after that it was a guy named dickie carr. who was a rookie who won 13 games and then red faber who's a hall of famer by who sick? he's had the flu. he's had health problems physical problems. he only wins 11 games and he's so sick. he's not even going to pitch one game in the world series. so the white sox basically have a two and a half man rotation going into the into the world series. they got a problem the sea cotton williams won 59% of all white sox games that year and if you take out faber they won 71% so if you get to these guys if the gamblers get to these guys things look really good for a
fix and and that the pitching is really the achilles heel or really? it's so big. it's the achilles foot of the of the white sox that year. now the white sox are going to lose. that series they're playing the lose in eight games. um two of the worst players the most suspicious players is lift lefty williams. he's going to lose three games, which is not going to happen again for decades and decades in a world series. he has a 6.61 era in that series when the american league average that year's 3.32. and risberg at shortstop a really good fielding shortstop makes four errors. so he comes under suspicion dickie carr there the third man of that staff in the series is a rookie. he's really small guys like five foot seven or so, but even with
the white sox playing or the black sox playing to lose behind him. he's going to win the third game and the sixth game of that world series so really impressive performance on his part, but they are going to lose in those games and he seacott is going to lose a couple of games and bang they're out now. what are the myths? the myths you've seen in the movie eight men out which was made by director john sales and that really sort of all star cast was made in the late 80s and about at the same time in a more romanticized kind of haphazard way in the more popular movie field of dreams with kevin costner where shoeless joe jackson and the black sox are going to come back and kind of be real bit rehabilitated and get to play again get to play baseball again. despite the lifetime ban against them in this corn field and in, iowa.
and the genesis of the story of the film eight men out and then again in field of dreams is a 1963 book by an author named elliot azanoff. and the gist of this is why the white sox do it and this is this is the great myth that we're dealing with here. and the myth that they the is this it's charles comiskey's fault. it's that these guys were exploited working men. they were not, you know being paid. very well. they were among the lowest paid teams in the american league, even though they were you know, the pennant winner that year. comiskey was cheating them on bonuses specifically on eddie secott. he was really so bad that he wasn't even cleaning their uniforms.
they weren't even called the black sox originally because they were crooked they were called that because comiskey wouldn't even clean their uniforms. so he was all around bad guy and the black sox just were writing a wrong. they were sticking it to the man. and you know getting justice retribute retributive justice by direct action. and the problem with this theory is that it's all wrong. i did two books, which dealt with the this scandal one was my biography of kennesaw mountain land is the commissioner who came in and fix this mess and the other was a biography of the gambler arnold rothstein who basically created this mess by by bankrolling the the world series fix. but since that rothstein book has come out. what we have had is a massive data dump really by major league
baseball and also just the fact that technology has changed. i was talking to some of the folks beforehand and talking about how research has changed since i started in this game and now you can get to the microfilm you can look stuff up easily. you don't have to rely on some relative scrapbook and and you can find stuff. but what the real key thing to dispelling the myths of charles comiskey as as the scrooge of baseball the fellow who should bear as much blame as any of the of the black sox. is this around 2002 major league baseball, i guess cleaning out its attic. and they had what the teams would have to send to the league offices what they were paying each guy. when if they got someone up from the miners? okay, how much you paying him? how much are you paying some guy if he came over in a trade from the saint louis browns? what did he signed for it to beginning of the year. did you pay him a bonus and all
of this was was in the league office files and major league baseball dumped it. across the street here in cooperstown at the hall of fame and the national baseball library. now they didn't have the staff to go through all this stuff. they just sort of keep it and treasure it and preserve it for the baseball researchers primarily for members of the society for american baseball research. and these guys really went to work and they went card by card by card and they figured out what the black sox were making and and you got to have context. okay, so they were making something. well the numbers of what anyone was paid in 1919. where are pretty pathetic compared to what they're being paid now because the dollar is pretty pathetic now. but what were the black sox playing being paid then well? consider this the white sox finished sixth in 1918. okay.
it was the war they had lost some guys other teams had lost guys too. so probably all even though but they they went from world champions in 1917 to sixth place in 1918 and yet and yet at the beginning of that season. they're going to have the third highest payroll that in the in the american league and at the end of that season, they're going to be the most highest paid team in the american league. okay, they are not underpaid at all. now another aspect of this that you may read or have heard is well, they weren't as they were much better than this cincinnati reds. and the reds were paid more than they were no. no, the reds were the sixth highest paid team in the national league and the eighth highest paid team in in the major leagues. of the 15th highest paid players in the american league five of them were on the white sox two
of them who were honest players on that team eddie collins the second baseman who was getting 15,000 which was the second second highest salary in baseball. thai carb was getting 20,000. and ray shalk a catcher. who was the highest paid catcher in the american league? he was getting 7,800 a 7,083. three members of the black sox seecott jackson and weaver were all so among the top 15 players and the next year of the 17 highest paid american legers seven were members of black sox, so comiskey was not underpaying his players. what was comiskey getting paid? well, that's easy for you the same mr. comiskey. these guys are paid well because of the war in 1918. the previous two years comiskey had been drawing 10,000 a year
year and he owned the team. and he took a cut to $5,000 a year. also, the revenues really went down that year. so white sox attendance went down by 70% in 1918 and the team lost 46,000. so consider all those things and and things start to fall away of these myths of why the white sox did it the bonuses? one of the stories which i didn't mention earlier is that they were plump the players were promised the bonus and all they got you seen this in the movie eight men out and all they get is a case of champagne. and they open it up and it's like it's flat. it's stale and there there incensed about this. well it they were they were not
if they they could not have been promised a bonus as a team. okay. oh, we know that we're promised champagne and they got champagne how bad it was. who knows? but it was they put forward a rule that you could not promise a bonus if to team members if they won the world series and the reason for this is because some losing teams ended up getting a higher bonus than the winning teams in the world series. and this was dahad and one of the owners who did this and caused. the losing team to have more than the winning team. this would have been in 1906 was again the cheapskate charles comiskey. he had paid out a bonus to the losing members of the team and that was and that was what caused that so you couldn't promise a bonus overall to the team and then there's a bonus to eddie seacott.
the there's a big scene in the movie where seacott goes in and says i was promised the bonus of 10,000 mr. comiskey comiskey if i won 30 games. and i i didn't you know, i was held back you did wouldn't the manager pitch me. for to win that 30th game. and and comiskey goes to his secretary the general manager and says, could you look up in the records? how many games mr. secant won? 29 29 is not 30 eddie. just so cynical and all that except that's not absolutely not true again. um bonuses were not promised that way. um, they would not be promised a 10,000 bone dollar bonus when his base salary was 5,000 dollars. it would be an increments it would also be in maybe you would get so much more if you got 120
games or if you won 25 games. in fact, this is what happened with lefty williams that year he got to 15 games and 20 games and he got extra bonuses for that. but really why it's not true is because eddie secott did get that chance to win 30 games. and he lost the game. he was not held out. he went home voluntarily to his farm in michigan at the end of in the middle of august and was called back by the white sox. given the chance to win and he didn't win so every aspect of this. is absolutely false. and also, why would you promise a bonus to someone who would win 30 games that year 30 games were pretty rare even back then? i think walter johnson had done in 1913, but it was really really rare even then and also eddie seacott had led the
american league in losses the year before. so again, none of this makes any sense and see but seacock does get a bonus. okay, the truth of the matter is seacott even without this performance bonus of 30 games does give the bonus because he was promised in 1918 if he had the same sort of year he had in 1917 when he won 28 games. that he would get the three thousand dollar bonus. well, he stunk up the lot in 1918, but comiskey because he's good the next year in 1919 gives him the bonus. he was promised for 1918. so he ends up as the second highest paid pitcher in the american league in the major leagues actually next to the great walter johnson. again, myth myth myth myth also so if seacot did this if he was in on the fix and he was
actually one of the ringleaders. um because he was stiffed on the bonus, which would have occurred late late late in the season. why do we know by his own confession that he was working on the fix in early september? and why do we know from from buck weavers? conversation with a detective hired by charles comiskey that secot was talking about the fix in june. okay. so fact fact fact now how great were the what the white sox? we hear over and over again that they were one of the greatest teams in in baseball history. well, they were pretty good. they had won the world championship in 1917. they won the pennant in 19. but they win it by three and a half games even in a 140 game season.
that's not all that impressive. that's you know kind of middling and you know, they were supposed to roll over the cincinnati reds. well the reds win the reds win their pennant by nine games. nine games and they have the highest. one loss percentage in baseball or it is not exceeded until the 1927 yankees who ain't bad. okay, ain't bad at all and their second half season is amazing. they have a one-lost percentage of seven 12 in that second half they are on fire going into the into the world series and they and they are deep. where the white sox were shallow in a pitching staff, the reds are so strong. they can start five different guys in the first five games that way and that of that 19 19 world series.
there's another myth which is maybe not as important, but in terms of like how difficult was it to to garner information to construct histories of the black sox and elliot asinoff writes that that basically there was a wall of silence. involving not only the black sox, but the clean socks the the honest players the players who played against them and everyone for some reason there was this cone of silence that fell down about the about around the around the world series fix and that's not true because we know now again because you can search all that microfilm and and find things out more equally that 20 different reds and white sox players gave at least 85 different interviews afterwards. now some of these are not very true. they're contradictory people will contradict themselves, but people were willing to talk they will not they were not many of
them. however were not willing to talk to the fellow whose history of the of the black sox is the standard history elliot as an off. i had i had the pleasure of meeting elliot late in his life. we were watching we were watching a series on espn which was premiering. and he seemed like a very nice fellow he was suffering from lyme disease then. but i when i first read eight men out. when i would have been in high school. i it was terrific and it is a brilliant narrative. is such a wonderfully written book. and it you just have the feeling that okay. he's got it all this is every detail in here and it would be very hard for me to improve on it when i was writing my rothstein book. that was the idea i had. at the beginning and then i tried to figure out the
narrative and it just didn't make any sense whatsoever. if you took a look at the chronology of things and and how things were supposed to happen. it just sort of fell apart and i wrote that in rothstein respectfully, but you know, it was like, you know, this this doesn't make sense. and here's how the narrative really went down with with arnold rothstein. but other people have pointed out. and and and i should have picked up on this but i first read the book when i was in high school. so it's like i'm not exactly mr. you know experienced author at that point. okay, but like there are like there there interior thoughts expressed. so and so was thinking that or this good historians don't put that down. novelist, put that down. elliott asinoff was a novelist and a screenwriter. okay, so he's creating this this narrative going forward forward
forward and and providing all these details which you should pick up on that. it's like how could he have known this or or details? how could he have known this level of detail from what happened? i just picked out this at random as i was, you know preparing this in a day or so quote. he gandal. smiled as he saw the 40 fresh $1,000 bills that sullivan. withdrew from his coat pocket how would he have this information? how would he have this so, this is why this book has been described as a historical novel historical novel and there are further imaginary characters in it. there are made up people in the book one of which is a guy named harry f a gambler who is supposed to have threatened lefty williams on the eve of the eighth game of the series. as in how we know he's imaginary
because as an off told us this and he said i'm doing this or i did this on the advice my publisher to protect my copyright. in case someone is going to plagiarize me. you can't copyright an individual. you can't copyright a fact. okay, this doesn't make any sense. so he has this character and other people think that a couple of other minor characters in here are completely fictitious as well and in fact as an off admitted that there was at least one other fictitious character in this now he he consulted a couple of. other authors quite famous people to get a an idea of what went down with the white sox two guys who had grown up in chicago and whose heroes had been black sox players nelson allgren if you've ever seen the movie the man with the golden arm or he
wrote the book walk on the wild side his hero was sweet sweet risberg and james farrell who wrote studs lanigan his hero was buck weaver, and they were both very left-wing authors. so they had this sort of working man, you know against management ideology and as an off himself basically had the same ideology and was blacklisted. he was blacklisted in the 1950s. he had fronted for blacklisted authors. and so he comes at the topic with this sort of bias, which is not bad if you get the facts, right? and as i think you've got by you know understood by now the facts were not right. and the facts were not right because you know in some ways because he did not have the material but then he embellished
the material and and fit everything into in this one narrative. one of the most perplexing things which i don't think anyone has ever going to know is how did the fix start? and it there's an increasing body of thought that started with the players. that it started with risma with gandal and it started with seacock. and we know the eight players who are involved on the black sox in one form or another. that's that's finite. we're pretty sure of that, but the gamblers are all over the place and there's about four or five different groups of them in in various places. there's a guy named sports sullivan in boston. big gambler big guy. he had been involved in bedding in the 1914 world series. as the handling the bats for
george m. cohan cohan went won a bundle on that on the underdog boston braves the miracle braves real, you know, 1969 mets kind of got team. okay who swept connie max philadelphia's there's some more concern about whether that series was fixed and maybe that is why connie mack broke up that team afterwards. um arnold rothstein the fellow i wrote the biography of the big bankroll the big brain the go-to guy the lone shark the labor rocketeer the gambler the casino owner the rum runner to bootlegger the drug smuggler the guy who's involved in everything in new york with tammany hall politics and wall street bucket shops and you know even loaning money to finance broadway shows and theaters everything. he's the big bankroll. that was the the name of a book about biography of him in 1959. it's very true and so sports
sullivan might be up to doing and fixing the world series, but he doesn't have the money to make it all work now. maybe you could make that work. there's 80,000 dollars eight ten thousand dollars a man being dangled in front of the of the white sox. but then what do you do? you've got to lay down bets to make money on the world series. there's no use doing this as some as some intellectual exercise that we're going to just fix the series and then go with that the point is to get put down bets and make a bundle of money. so you've got to have two pots of money that way bribe the players lay down the bets rothstein can supply that then there are a whole bunch of gamblers from the midwest. there was a fellow named henry kid becker who had been working on fixing the 1918 world series. he never quite pulled it off and
was thinking about doing the 1919 world series, but unfortunately, he was shot dead in april 19 19 by the husband of one of his girlfriends. but he left behind other gamblers in saint louis a guy named carl zork harry redman ben franklin. and other gamblers in des moines, this is interesting that you know, the supposedly honest stayed upright midwest. you see the all these gambling centers in there and in des moines, there's a guy named david selser and ben and lou levy big gamblers. they're going to be involved in this. and then a fourth group. well, i don't know if you can call two people group. and they are sleepy bill burns and a guy named billy maharg. sleepy bill burns had been a major league pitcher of no great repute at all and no great energy, which is why he was called sleepy bill. he would literally fall asleep on the bench.
but he left baseball and became he was speculating in oil leases in texas. he was in, texas. but he would come up and hang around with all the ball players and try to sell them or try to get them to invest in oil leases. so he's traveling this circuit of major league cities and teams and he's on trains with the players and 1919 and he hears this rumor and in fact the players approach him. will throw they're so crooked even though they've got 80,000 on the table now promised from the gamblers of sullivan and rothstein they go to these guys and say we'll throw it for to you for 100,000 such a bargain. and burns doesn't have any kind of money like this mahar doesn't at all. he's working in a in a locomotive plant in philadelphia. and mahar goes back to
philadelphia to raise the money and they tell them philadelphia. you know, who's got the money? the guy in new york arnold rothstein's got the money go see him. they do they try to see them at the racetrack. they try to see them by this office and rothstein was a very he's not a d's demon dose guys. he's very restrained. invites them to meet with him to discuss the fix and he knows they're coming to discuss the fix. in the middle of the ball of the restaurant at the biggest hotel in times square the hotel asked her in the middle of everything. he's invited these guys not to his office but there to discuss the fix and they do rothstein has this has at his table a former new york city police detective and reputedly a new york city judge, so he's got witnesses to what will then happen, which is rothstein blowing up and saying i want no
part of your fix. i want nothing to do with it. well, of course he has another fix going on. that's why and also he's creating an alibi a very big alibi that he had nothing to do with any sort of fix which is of course false, but he soon comes to think that well maybe maybe i can make these burns and the hard guys. work for me. yeah. i'll tell them i'll give them the money. and i'll tell the players they'll be another 100,000 and the in the pot forum and with all this money dangled. these players will throw this series? okay, and i don't even have to advance anymore and if something goes wrong. maybe these guys will take take the rap. now the rothstein uses a couple of agents of his a guy named a patel another former boxer. he was the featherweight champion the world.
in fact, very famous guy. and rachel brown who was really named that evans and zelser zelser is involved, but he's going by an alias. a lot of people were going by aliases here. rothstein is a slow pay. he knows the value of keeping money around so you can invest it in other such as loan sharking. so if you don't pay the white sox players what you've promised them right away say you're holding on to another 40 or 50,000 dollars. you can use that 40 or 50,000 to bet on them, which is in much of a bet because you know the outcome or to just loan some money to some guy in times square. so why put the money to use that way hang on to it? it's being a slow pay will eventually get him killed after he's a slow pay of 300,000 in the very high stakes poker game in 1928. but his guys are not paying the white sox right away.
and they feel stiffed so they're going to eventually start to play the win. everybody is double crossing everyone else. and that is why say for example, eddie seca wins that one game that he wins. in the in the 1919 world series and why even though harry f was made up by elliott asinoff. there were threats coming in there's a count of one threat which was coming into williams and then chick gandal later on in an interview and i don't vouch for chick candles veracity. he says they were calls coming in from gamblers all the time threatening. threatening these guys to to shape up. when you get eight players involved and then i've named 11 gamblers not counting harry. so you've got a minimum of 19 guys here.
and they can't keep their mouth shut. and what there's some reasons why you can't why they which are good reasons. say you're a crooked player and you're relative. your friend wants to bet money on your team and you go. oh don't bet bet on the other. god okay. so they can't keep their mouth shut. rumors of the fix start in august in saratoga rothstein tells a gambler from chicago named montana's the series is going to be fixed. he tells the former owner of the chicago cubs a guy named charlie wigman about it eventually comiskey at the start of the season is going to know about these rumors. he's going to get very agitated about it the manager of the white sox is going to get very agitated about it. and after the series is over. there's a series of articles. coming out about the rumored fixed from a guy named hugh
fullerton, and it's interesting that when they come out the sporting news. the bible of baseball comes out and and will land base fullerton really there's a famous account or passage by them, which is incredibly anti-semitic about a bunch of hook nose thick-lipped gamblers who are behind this and and you know, just because they do things don't believe that anyone in our great game are great american game played by americans, whatever stoop to this. well, they certainly stoop to it comiskey investigated and hired gamblers in the offseason how much he covered this up? how much he knew how much how much did he really know? there's knowing and there's proving he offered a $10,000 reward right after the series to anyone who could prove that series was fixed.
and a hairy redman one of those saint louis gamblers comes forward and says i want the 10,000 dollars and here's what happened. and actually it's through redmond that we first know that weaver was involved in the meetings to fix the the series but it's like well, this is hearsay. what do you do comiskey hires detectives at the cost of 20,000? to to interview on the slide to get close to and gain the confidence of weaver and gandal and mcmullen and mcmullen who out in, california. and each detective comes back and says, yeah, i we think something happened but the inner you know, the guy who interviews weaver says, i don't think weaver was involved and the one who and you know talks to gandal. i don't think gandal was involved and the same thing happens with mcmullen and another one goes to felsch. i don't think felsh was involved. so what basic basis this comiskey have to bring action
really none really none what's going on now with the black sox? as all this is going on is there's a national commission. in baseball ruling baseball and it's made up of three. members nationally president american league president the american league president is ban johnson. he's running the game and by these tick people off. so the white sox the boston red sox and the new york yankees are against them and they want to dump him. um, and he's investigating the white sox at the same time. he finds out about my heart. they tracked down bill burns in mexico and a grand jury convenes. in chicago in september 19 to investigate a baseball scandal. what's the scandal? the scandal is that maybe a
philadelphia phillies chicago cubs game is going to be fixed. what's this got to do with the white sox nothing? the story appears to have been planted so that the grand jury can investigate crookedness in baseball. the grand jury is being run by a judge charles mcdonald who is and ally of van johnson. johnson is plumping mcdonald to be the new commissioner of baseball. they're going to have a commissioner. and the real favorite for this job is judge, kenesaw mountain landis. everybody wants it landis. he had been the guy who fined standard oil 26 million dollars in 1907 and chased down the iww and the socialist party and the anti-war people during the war. and it helps save baseball when there was a third league organized baseball when there was a third league being formed in 1914 1915.
johnson doesn't want landis because he's too strong a guy you'll never be able to control landis and nobody did. he wants mcdonald's and hoping that this grand jury. will elevate mcdonald's to be the star of the show. he's not the star of the show. he's not he's never going to overshadow landis. but what they do is immediately get into investigating the black sox. three of the players confessed to the grand jury williams weaver and jackson felsh confesses to a newspaper reporter in philadelphia and a whole bunch of people are indicted the players and the gamblers they are. eventually acquitted they're all acquitted. the acquittal is well. there's a scene in the movie of eight men out where? um it's revealed that the grand
jury confessions have been stolen and all of a sudden the prosecution has no basis for prosecution again, really a misstatement. they were missing but they were immediately reconstructed from stenographers notes, so they did not impact the trial much at all. what did impact a trial was judge hugo friend the presiding judge of the trial said you can own you can't use these confessions by these three guys jackson weaver and seacott against the other players and you must also prove the intent. the intent that they were going to try to defraud people, how do you prove intent? how do you again how do you know what's going on in someone's mind? so that really helps kill the chances for a conviction in two hours and 47 minutes. the jury comes back. and they say acquitted.
all the black sox players are acquitted and they think their home scott free. they are not home scott free because what kennesaw mountain landis does within hours? is to issue a statement saying that regardless of the verdict of juries no player who has conspired has thrown the game or conspired to throw a game or who has sat in on a meeting of crooked players and gamblers and it's not so informed his ball club will ever play baseball for organized baseball again. and that takes care of a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of things. it's very eloquent. it's very lawyerly all at the same time regardless of the verdict of juries no player who has fixed the game. well everyone know you're new you are not supposed to fix a game. although it was not illegal. they were not indicted for fixing a game. okay, there was no law against it that that that came later on but you knew not to do that.
so you knew seacott and risberg and guys like that and gandal should not be in the game anymore. but also guys who sat in on a meeting which would have been people like weaver or who did not inform their club. there's going to be a couple of scandals in the 20s later on and what happens is they're broken up very quickly very quickly because the players the honest players who know about these schemes who have been offered bribes. will immediately wrap on their fellow teammates. nobody wants to be the next buckwheaver. once that that barrier of silence is broken. then then baseball becomes a clean game. that's one of the things you see in the news stories at this time about the black sox or about baseball in general. really? it's a clean game. it's a clean game. it's a clean game. it's not like boxing. it's not right horse racing. this is something we can believe in and if landis had not done
that and if the game had not been cleaned up, it would have gone down the same route as boxing. you wouldn't know which fight was on the level which fighter was on the level which round the thing was going to end in etc. etc, etc. um all of this is tied up in so many amazing stories where for example notice that rothstein where is he at the trial? where is a tell at the trial people like that? we're sports sullivan, they disappear. sullivan just disappears for a while. rothstein goes before the grand jury and complains about he's being assaulted by the by the reporters and that's the story there. well, they put out this story that he was a assaulted. who was controlling the grand jury. well it was. judge mcdonald and who was controlling judge mcdonald who was ben johnson? why would band johnson want
rothstein to be freed well or cleared? because of that power struggle for baseball rothstein was partners with a partners in the casino in havana and maybe even partners in the giants with a guy named by guy named charles stoneham. stoneham would have been one of the votes. it was promised would be one of the votes to help prop up johnson and his fight to as leader of baseball. and that never happens because again another double cross double cross double cross. so what we have with the black sox? and what we have in in baseball here, is this remarkable story of of human frailty of people thinking they can get away with something and finding out that they can't and finding out the things will not be tolerated anymore. and that's why baseball and a fellow name because of that and because of a guy named babe ruth, why baseball survive that series and why we're looking
forward to it starting tomorrow night. thank you. now i'll take some some questions. and and if i guess i'll repeat them. so c-span audience can hear them. but any questions yes. yeah, did the white sox other white sox players? that they know about they didn't the only one well weaver never took any money. the question is who got what amount of money? and seacott got most that we know of he got 10,000. he got what he was promised from the original 80. the others all got five. weaver got nothing because he wouldn't agree to it, but he sat in on two meetings.
gandal in that ill article in the light in the 1950s. says that weaver wanted the money up front. okay, and at one point he was saying well we could take the money and we could double cross the players and we can get the winning share of the city series, you know, which was about 5,000 as compared to 32,000 for a loser. but again, i trust gandal about anything. um, but so the other players don't know but they really suspect. and ray shulk. the catcher gets really. visibly upset even on the field and in the clubhouse. during the during the series. so they they know they know but they don't they can't prove. and it's a very faction. what is true about the cinematic accounts of this and as an office? it's a factional ball club, you know, you've got guys who really
can't stand the other guys. and a candle in that or not. yeah gandal in that interview says when he was talking about letting somebody into the fix. he says yeah, we we didn't love them, but we we didn't hate him as much the other guys. so, it's quite the crew. yes anything else? yes, the most famous of the white sox players was obviously shoes. yeah. what in your view was his culpability in this? whole drama well again, i mean this this story is just so -- complex. what complicates it? well, two things. complicate jackson one is he hits 375 in the series. he has 12 hits which i think was the record for a long time. he hits the only home run of the series. well either team.
he has no errors. he catches a man home at the plate. okay? um but he takes the money. he takes $5,000 he gets it handed to him by lefty williams. so and he's not at the meetings. he's the one guy who doesn't attend either a meeting. there's two meetings. one of all the players together to discuss the fix and then later with the gamblers and he's at neither one. now i think one might say well, okay. here's some things. he said to the press right after he gave his confession. he did confess. he said to the press afterwards. i said i got want 5,000 and they promised me 20,000. all i got was the 5,000 that lefty williams handed me in a
dirty envelope. i never got the other 15,000. well, boohoo. i told that the judge mcdonald he said he didn't care what i got. i don't think the judge likes me. i never got the $15,000 that was coming to me. hell of a statement. and then he said at another point and i'm going to give you a tip a lot of these sporting writers that have been roasting me have been talking about the third game of the world series being square. let me tell you something. the eighth of us did our best to kick it and little dicky car one that game be by his pitching because he wanted those gamblers double crossed us because we double cross them. now what he may have done. consciously is this he may have decided to split hair and say i won't do anything. to throw the series or be
suspicious about my activities and he hits that home run for example when the socks are down ten to five in the last game when things are out of reach. and the when he gets the guy out at the throw is offline. shock makes this incredible play to catch it and dive back backward and get the runner at home. it's shulk's play really not is. but that he lends his name to the fix. okay, the gamblers might not want to put all this money and be be sure to this going through without the premier name player attached to it. so he says yeah. yeah. i used my name. i think that that may be his is culpability there. he's illiterate. i mean that's very famous. so he but i don't there's a difference between uneducated and dumb.
and he runs several businesses afterwards and doesn't run them into the ground. so he has some he has some native smarts, but the the thing about putting him, diane. you know, there was a petition just recently from the people in south carolina where he's really a hero, greenville, south carolina. there's a museum to him. i think they're they're they're moving his house down the road and putting a bigger museum and there was it was just announced there's a movie about him which is in development but development and being made are two different things so he continues to be a folk hero of sorts, but it reminds me of the circumstances with. pete rose you know the when when there was more active whether pete rose would go in and people would ask me when i was doing more baseball stuff. you know. how do you feel about pete rose going to the hall of fame?
and i said, you know. i don't care that much for pete rose. i don't care much for what he did. but if you really wanted to stick it to beat pete rose. here's what you do. few years back there would be a debate about whether ralph kinder belonged in the hall of fame. or the school they're fill resu, though or richie ashburn or somebody. and they will have a lot of talk about them. and then they would get in and no one ever mentioned them again. so if you want to bury a guy publicly you put him in the hall of fame you make him the 180th best member of the hall of fame instead of the best guy or most famous guy not in the hall of fame. and and this that would kind of do the same thing for shoeless joe if he were in but if he's in and a family is you know coming
in and the father or mother parent is has got the little kid there and looking at this plaque and it's like so what did this guy do and what took him so long to get here and the is this is this the best baseball has to offer you know that you know, he took the money and complained about not getting more. you know. no, one of the one of the things about well about honor and and such. the reason one of the reasons why landis may apply that standard to buck weaver is landis had a nephew who was in the us military academy and that honor code there of i will not lie cheat steal. nor will i tolerate anyone who does? okay is what is essentially applied to weaver? yes. yes, sir. how did the socks? begin, rebuilding the team money money they buy a lot of players
and they don't turn out all that well. you know they started this is the arrow when you could buy players not just from the other major league teams. you could buy them from the majors particularly from the pacific coast league. you know, so in the 30s, you know, joe dimaggio ted williams bobby door. those guys are purchased from the pcl and comiskey is doing this in the 1920s and the guys he he gets her. i even remember their names. and he paid big big bucks for them, although in the 19. mid 1920s. i think shock becomes the manager of the of the white sox and actually posts a winning record comiskey. if comiskey is is so involved in the cover-up if he's you know, the protect his investment in the team and that's why he doesn't you know ban all these
guys in 1919 what he does do in in 1920s this the grand jury has in has heard the confessions of the three players and and fellshe's talked. he spilled the beans as well. comiskey acts like boom the hammer goes down and he suspends. the black sox now i was going to say the eight but it's seven because gandal was not playing with the team. he had left to retire and go to california. ah before that but with with the with the season with about three left to go. and the socks still in the pennant race comiskey guts his team at that point and gets rid of these guys and sinks their chance for for a second consecutive pennant and interesting thing happens at that point where the owner of the yankees jake rupert. was just acquired this hot shot
left fielder named babe ruth says this is terrible with camiscus happened the comiskey. i'll loan you babe ruth for the rest of the season. and the commissioner with the league president says no, we don't do that. but again that a lot things which happen. a very interesting the wake of that. yes. going once going twice. oh. i'll tell you one story then. why didn't able tell appear at the trial? you didn't know a patelled in a perich trial very few in the eastern gamblers were not at the trial. arnold rothstein had this attorney named bill fallon who was an incredibly inventive attorney and a great jury fixer as well so he may have fixed a juror along the way here.
but what he does is he would invent these incredible defenses? where you know the best defense is a good offense. so one point in the late 20s where he's accused of fixing a jury by the hurst press. he puts william randolph hearst on trial by saying, you know, the reason they printed these lies about me fixing juries is because i know the truth and i have the birth certificates of the twin daughters that william randolph hearsts. fathered by mary and davies this is a complete lie, there were no twins. you just completely made up. so he would come out with stuff like this. he makes up the story about rothstein going, you know being assaulted by reporters in chicago. so so people so rothstein becomes the victim. oh poor arnold rothstein. but what the what the remarkably does is rothstein and fallon had sent a patel out of the country
to montreal gohide hide. stay there forever. shut up. but then they think it over and fallon brings. a towel back a tell is walking through times square one day. and a couple detectives of pickpocket squad go up to them and arrest him and a reign him for his part on in the black sox fix. and then they bring in. a witness from chicago named sammy pass who tell had bet with on the series and passed would have said a tell bet with me the series was fixed and i was defrauded. pass shows up in court and they say this is this is a battelle a patel remember had been featherweight champion of the world. he was a famous guy. and passes no. it was a different a battelle that i bet with.
this is complete perjury is a total lie money was passed to pass at grand central terminal or penn station when he when he got into town and so a tell walks that way these this is how chicago justice and new york. justice was handled in those ways and so that you know in the when the trial can concludes with the black sox one of the most suspicious things that happen and this is this looks like it would have been invented by the people in the within the hollywood for freight men out but it's not that the celebrating players and their attorneys go to an italian restaurant in chicago. and now those those guys at saber have figured out that where the restaurant was and it was it was owned by an associate of al capone and the gamblers and the players and their attorneys are in one room of this restaurant and there's a
movable partition between another room and the jurors the jurors are in that next room and that wall comes down and they have a wonderful party together. and also some of the grand jurors used to visit new york after that and they would be treated to wonderful things by arnold rothstein. so that's that's the story of justice 1919 and hopefully 2019 series who end up a lot better. thank you. thank you all for coming and i hope right there fascinating and lightning thank you. yes. american history tv on c-span 3 exploring the people at events that tell the american story every weekend. thousands of people visit
washington for the annual blooming of the cherry blossoms sunday at 6pm eastern on american artifacts. we'll look at the history of the cherry trees and the washington dc title basin an area that once served as a swimming hole a protest ground and the scene of a political scandal and sunday at 8pm eastern on the presidency behind the scenes tour of the harry s truman presidential library and museum in independence, missouri here about several new exhibits telling the life story of the 33rd president exploring the american story watch american history tv sunday on c-span 3 each week american artifacts takes viewers into archives museums and historic sites around the country next. we visit the baseball americana exhibit at the library of congress in washington dc to learn about baseball's origins and early days. welcome to the library of congress. i'm susan reyburn curator