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tv   1919 Black Sox World Series Fix  CSPAN  April 26, 2021 4:02pm-5:13pm EDT

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the chicago white sox, which came to be known as the black sox skabdle. he talks about how portrayals of the book shaped public perceptions of what happened. the liech times 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 y'all to cooperstown. i am the director here. david kent. and we are very fortunate, tonight, to have esteemed historian and award-winning write -- writer. who is not only an historian. but he is 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.
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where members of the chicago white sox were accused of throwing the world series to the cincinnati reds. and it -- it brought about many changes in baseball, including getting a commissioner and getting eight players on the white sox banned 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 myths." 100 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 excited to welcome david, our speaker, tonight. >> well, thank you. [ applause ] >> yeah. we're -- we're gathered here, tonight, on the eve of -- of this year's world series.
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and a hundred years ago, well, who knew 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? gambling had been rife in baseball since the very beginnings of the sport. people -- you know, think of all the -- the gambling 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
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league team, there were gambling scandals or rumors of fixes. in louisville, in 1877, four players, then, were banned for life. and annum pier. an umpire was thrown out in 1882. he is the only umpire who's ever been thrown out. 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 -- of the 20th century. and in the year before the 1919 world series, in 1918, there's a prospective scandal brewing on the cincinnati reds. now, the white sox play the reds but there was a scandalous goings on in cincinnati with a first baseman named hal chase. and chase was really notorious. but baseball didn't do anything about it.
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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 conspired 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 were banned? let's go around the diamond. the first one is a guy named chick gandel. he's -- he's a fairly good-fielding first baseman. but he is sort of in the middle of the pack of american league or major league first basemen. i never come with -- with a slide presentation to these
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talks. but i really wish i had a slide to show you of chick gandle. because here is a guy who looks like a complete criminal. i mean, this -- this -- this is one bad-looking dude. and 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 seemed to be a friend of his. a guy named fred mcmullen. in terms of play in the world series, he only gets two at bats and actually gets a hit. but he wants in and he is going to be let in. at short stop, a guy described by jackson as a hard guy, a tough guy, a guy you didn't want to cross on the team. he's -- he's a decent fielder. not that much of a hitter. and at third base, is one of the more problematic members of this
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octet in terms of guilt and culpability. his name is buck weaver. and he is actually one of the top-third basemen in the american league. probably, number two, home run baker who had been part of the million-dollar infield with connie mack's a's. in center field, a really good fielder, a guy named oscar happy felsh. and he has some power. he ties for the -- the team lead in home runs in 1919 with, i think, oh, eight or nine. it's the tail end of 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 pitchers. you need pitchers involved in throwing a world series. and the gamblers and people, like gandle, have, as part of
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the conspiracy, the two best pitchers on the chicago white sox. eddie seacott who is a real trick-ball picture, a knuckle-ball pitcher, shine-ball pitcher. he might rub something on his pants and then rub the ball on that to make the thing scoot this way or that way. he's -- he's a 29-game winner, that year. and then, the other pitcher is, i think, a 23-game winner. he is a much younger pitcher. his name is claude lefty williams. his claim -- he comes from quite a town in -- in south -- southern missouri. which even though it's only got about 2 or 3,000 people in it, even to this day, include -- the -- the barker, the mob barker gang from the bank robbers from the 1930s came from this same, small town. and also, a guy who shot up a synagogue over kansas city. the same -- same town. so i don't know what this chamber of commerce says about that town. but it's going to be a best of
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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 i. 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 going to do selective service and pull your name out of a -- out of a fishbowl or something and send you over to 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-game series a season.
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recall that, up until 1961, with expansion of the american league, it's 156-game series. so, there is fewer games. there's fewer attendants. there's much less revenue, that year. and with that work-or-fight order, there is 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 have got to get all those guys over to france so we need boats we got to put 'em on. and so, there is a big shipyard in delaware. and joe jackson and lefty williams and a reserve catcher for the white sox, a pal of theirs, named bird lynn. go over and work there. and oscar happy felsh goes and works for a shipyard or defense plant in milwaukee. so, the core, a good core of
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the -- of the black sox, of the white sox, are jumping. and this is the way the owner of the white sox, interprets that. jumping the team to go get these jobs in the defense plants or in the shipyards. they are 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 -- and play baseball for these -- for these shipyards on the weekends. he doesn't even want to let these guys back in. kaminsky is also opposed to this nine-game series idea, world series. and he's portrayed as a great-money grubber -- money grabber. and we will deal more with that, later on. but he is opposed to the
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nine-game series. why? is he just a traditionalist? a conservative? well, maybe. but remember, what i said about seacot and lefty williams, the two pitchers. they have got 29 wins and 23 game -- wins, respectively. but really, you know, in the short series, you can get away with a -- 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 white sox, that year, were really stuck behind seacot and williams. and after that, it was a guy named dickey carr who is a rookie who won 13 games. and then red fabre, who is a hall of famer but who is sick. he's had the flu.
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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 seacot and williams won 59% of all white sox games that year. and if you take out fabre, 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 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 are playing to lose in -- in eight games. two of the worst players, the most suspicious players, is lefty williams. he's going to lose three games,
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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 is 3.32. and risburg at short stop makes four errors so he comes under suspicion. dickey carr, the third man of that staff in the series, is a -- is a rookie. he's really small guy. he's like 5'7" or so. but even with the white sox playing or the black sox playing to lose behind him. he is 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. eddie seacot is going to lose a couple of games, and bang, they're out. now, what are the myths? the myths.
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you've seen in the movie "eight men out" which was made by director john sails and really a sort of all-star cast. made in the late '80s. and about at the same time. and in a more romanticized, kind of, haphazard way in the more popular movie "field of dreams" with kevin costner. where they're going to come back, and kind of be rehabilitated and get to play again. get to play baseball, again, despite the lifetime ban against them in this cornfield 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 asanoff. 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 --
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the -- is this. it's charles kaminsky'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. he was cheating them on bonuses, specifically on eddie seacot. 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 kaminsky wouldn't even clean their uniforms. so he was an all-around bad guy. and the black sox just were righting a wrong. they were sticking it to the man. and, you know, getting justice. retributive justice, by direct
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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 the commissioner who came in and fixed this mess. and the other was a biography of the gambler, around rothstein, who basically created this mess by -- by bankrolling the series. but since that has come out, what we have had a massive-data dump, really, by major-league baseball. and also, just the fact that technology has changed. was talking to some of the focus beforehand. and talking about how research has changed. since i -- i started in this game. and now, you can get to the micro film. you can look stuff up easily. you don't have to rely on some relative scrapbook. and you can find stuff.
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but the real, key thing to dispelling the myths of charles kaminsky, as -- as -- as the scrooge of baseball. the fellow who should bear as much blame as any of the black sox is this. around 2002, major-league baseball, i guess, was cleaning out its attic. and they had -- what -- the teams would have to send to the league offices what they were paying each guy. if they got someone up from the minors, okay, how much are you paying him? how much are you paying some guy if he came over in a trade from the st. louis browns? what did he sign for at the beginning of the year? did you pay him a bonus? all of this 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.
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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 any of them was paid in 1919 were -- 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, it probably all evened out. 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 are going to have the third-highest payroll in the -- in the american league. and at the end of that season,
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they are 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 -- that you may read or have heard is, well, they weren't as -- they were much better than the 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 the major leagues. of the 15 highest-paid players in the american league, five of them were on the -- 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-highest salary in baseball. ty cobb was getting $20,000. and a catcher, who was the highest paid catcher in the american league, he was getting
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$7,8 -- $7,083. three members of the black sox, seacot, jackson, and weaver, were also among the top-15 players. and the next year, of the 17 highest-paid american leaguers, seven were members of the black sox. so, kaminsky was not underpaying his players. what was kaminsky getting paid? well, that's easy for you to say, mr. kaminsky. because of the war, the previous-two years, kaminsky had been drawing $10,000 a 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
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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 -- the players were promised the bonus. and all they got -- you have seen this in the movie "eight men out." and all they get a case of champagne. and they open it up, and it's like -- it's flat. it's stale. and they're -- they're -- they're incensed about this. well, it -- they were -- they were not -- if they -- they could not have been promised a bonus, as a team. okay? we know they were promised champagne, and they got champagne. how bad it was? who knows. but it was -- they -- 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
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because some losing teams ended up getting a higher bonus than the winning teams in the world series. and this was -- 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 kaminsky. 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 is a bonus to eddie seacot. the -- there is a big scene in the movie where seacot goes in and says, i was promised a bonus of $10,000, mr. kaminsky, if i won 30 games. and i -- i didn't -- you know, i -- i was held back. you -- you wouldn't let the manager pitch me for -- to win that 30th game. and -- and kaminsky goes to his
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secretary, the general manager, and says can you look up in the records how many games mr. seacot won? 29. 29 is not 30, eddie. just so cynical in all that. except, that's not -- absolutely, not true, again. bonuses were not promised that way. they would not be promised a $10,000 bonus, when his base salary was $5,000. it would be in increments. it would, also, be in maybe you would get so much more, if you got -- won 20 games, or if you won 25 games. in fact, this is what happened with lefty williams that year. he got his 15 games, and 20 games. and he got extra bonuses for that. but really, why it's not true is because eddie seacot did get that chance to win 30 games, and he lost the game.
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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 a chance to win, and he didn't win. so, every aspect of this is absolutely false. and also, why would you promise a -- 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 it in 1913. but it was really, really rare, even then. and also, eddie seacot had led the american league in losses, the year before. so, again, none of this makes any sense. and -- but seacot does get a bonus. okay? the truth of the matter is seacot, even without this performance bonus of 30 games, does get a bonus. because he was promised, in 1918, if he had the same sort of year he had in 1917 when he won
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28 games, that he would get a $3,000 bonus. well, he stunk up the lot in 1918. but kaminsky, 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, myth. also, so, if seacot did this. if he was in on the fix and he was actually one of the ringleaders. 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 weaver's conversation with
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a detective hired by charles kaminsky, that seacot was talking about the fix in june? okay. so, fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. now, how great were the -- the white sox? we hear, over and over again, that they were one of the greatest teams in -- in -- in baseball history. well, they were pretty good. they had won the world championship in 1917. they won the pennant in 1919. 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 midling. and they were supposed to roll over the cincinnati reds. well, 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
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1927 yankees, who ain't bad. okay? ain't bad, at all. and they -- their second-half season is amazing. they have a one-loss percentage of 712 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 in that -- in that -- of that 1919-world series. there is another myth, which is maybe not as important. but in -- in terms of, like, how difficult was it to -- to -- to garner information to construct histories of the back sox? and elliot asanoff writes that basically, there was a wall of silence. involving not only the black sox but the clean sox, you know, the honest players, the players who
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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 micro film 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 black sox is the standard history. elliot asanoff. i had the pleasure of meeting elliot, late in his life. we were watching -- we were watching a -- a series on espn, which was premiering. and he seemed like a very nice fellow. he was suffering from lyme
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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. it is such a wonderfully-written book. and it -- it -- you just had 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. and 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 -- it just, sort of, fell apart. and i -- 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.
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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, um, there are, like -- there are -- there are -- there are interior thoughts expressed. so and so was thinking that. or this. good historians don't put that down. novelists put that down. elliot asanoff was a novelist and a screenwriter. okay? so he is creating this narrative, going forward, forward, forward, forward. and providing all these details which you should pick up on. that is it's like how could he have known this? or details. how could he have known this level of detail from what happened? i just picked this out at randoms as i was preparing this in a day or so.
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he 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 -- so, this is why this book has been described as a historical novel. a 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, a gambler, who is supposed to have threatened lefty williams on the eve of the eighth game of the series. how do we know? because asanoff told us this. he said i did this on the advice of 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
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of other minor characters in here are completely fictitious, as well. and in fact, asanoff admitted there was at least one other fictitious character in this. now, he -- he consulted a couple of other authors. quite-famous people. to -- to get a -- 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 player. nelson algren. if you have ever seen the movie "the man with the golden arm." or he wrote the book "walk on the wild side." his hero was swede risburg. and james ferrell, 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.
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and asanoff, himself, basically had the same ideology and was blacklisted. he was blacklisted in the 1950s. he affronted 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 -- 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 -- into this one narrative. one of the most perplexing things, which i don't think anyone is ever gonna know, is how did the fix start? and it -- there's an increasing body of thought that has started with the players. that it started with ris -- it started with gandel and it
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started with seacot. and we know, the eight players who are involved on the black sox in one form or another. and that's -- that's finite. we're pretty sure of that. but the gamblers are all over the place. and there is about four or five different groups of them in -- in various places. there is a guy named sport sullivan in boston. big, big gambler. big guy. he had been involved in betting in the 1914 world series. as the handling the bets for george m. cohan. he won a bundle on that on the underdog, boston braves, the miracle braves. real, you know, 1969 mets kind of team, okay? who swept connie mack's philadelphia a's. there was concern about whether that series is fixed and maybe that's why connie mack broke up that team, afterwards.
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arnold rothstein, the fellow i wrote the biography of. the big bankroll. the go-to guy. the loan shark. the gambler. the casino owner, the rum runner, the bootleger, the drug smuggler, the guy who is involved in everything in new york with politics and wall street bucket shops. and, you know, even loaning money to finance broadway shows and theaters. everything. he is the big bankroll. that was the -- the name of a book, a biography of him in 1959. it's very true. and so, sport 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 can make that work. there's $80,000, eight -- $10,000 a man being dangled in front -- in front of the white sox. but then, what do you do?
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you have 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, 1919, by the husband of one of his girlfriends. but he left, behind, other gamblers in st. louis. a guy named carl, harry redmond, ben franklin. and other gamblers in des
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moines. this is interesting, you know, the supposedly honest, staid, upright midwest, you see all these gambling centers and in des moines, there is a guy named david selzer. big gamblers. they are going to be involved in this. and then, a fourth group. well, i don't know if you can call two people a 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 -- on the bench. but he had left baseball and be -- became -- he was speculating in oil leases in texas. he was a texan. but he would come up and hang around with all the -- the ball players. and try to sell them or try to get them to invest in oil leases. so, he is traveling this circuit of major-league cities and teams. he is on trains with the players. in 1919.
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and he hears this rumor and, in fact, the players approach him. we'll -- 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 to you for $100,000. such a bargain. and burns doesn't have any kind of money like this. maharg doesn't at all. he is working in a -- in a locomotive plant in philadelphia. and maharg goes back to philadelphia to raise the money. and they tell him in 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 him at the race track. they try to see him at his office. and he's a very -- he's very restrained. invites them to meet with him to
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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 astor, 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, at his table, a former new york city police detective and reputedly a -- 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 is 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, well, maybe, maybe, i can make these burns and maharg guys work for me.
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yeah. i'll tell 'em i'll give 'em the money. and they'll tell the players there will be another $100,000 in the -- in the pot for them. and with all this money dangled, these players will throw the series. okay? and i don't even have to advance any more. and if something goes wrong, maybe these guys will take -- take the rap. now, the rothstein uses a couple of agents of his. another former boxer. he was the featherweight champion of the world, in fact. very famous guy. and rachel brown, who -- who was really named nat evans. and zelser is involved but he is 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 things, such as loan sharking. so, if you don't pay the white
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sox players what you have promised them right away. say, you are holding on to another 40 or $50,000. you can use that $40 $50,000 to bet on them, which isn't much of a bet because you know the outcome. or just loan some money to some guy in times square. so why put the money to use that way? hang on to it. a slow pay will eventually get him killed after he was a slow pay in a very high stakes poker game in 1928. but his guys are not paying the white sox right away. and they feel stiffed. so, they are going to eventually start to play to win. everybody is double crossing everyone else. and that is why, say, for example, eddie seacot wins that one game that he wins in the -- in the 1919 world series. and why, even though harry was made up by elliot asanoff, there
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were threats coming in. there -- there's an account of one threat which was coming in to williams. and then, chick gandle, later on in an interview, and i don't vouch for chick gandle's voracity, he said there were calls coming from gamblers all the time. threatening. threatening these guys to shape up. this -- when you get eight players involved. and then, i have named 11 gamblers, not counting harry f. so you have 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 -- which are good reasons. say, you're a crooked player and your relative, your friend wants to bet money on your team. and you go, no! don't bet. bet on the other guys. okay? so, they can't keep their mouth shut.
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rumors of the fix start in august. in saratoga, rothstein tells a gambler the series is going to be fixed. he tells the former owner of the chicago cubs, a guy named charlie wheatman, about it. eventually, kaminsky, at the start of the season, is going to know about these rumors. he is 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 is a series of articles coming out about the rumored fix 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 really, there's a famous account or passage by them, which is incredibly anti-semitic. about a bunch of hook-nosed,
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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, our great-american game, played by americans, would ever stoop to this. well, they certainly stooped to it. kaminsky 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 the series was fixed. a harry redmond, one of the st. louis gamblers, comes forward and says i want the $10,000. and actually, through redmond, that we first know that weaver was involved in the meetings to fix the series. but, it's like, well, this is hearsay. what do you do? kaminsky hires detectives, at a cost of $20,000, to -- to
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interview -- not -- interview on the sly, get close to and gain the confidence of weaver and gandle and mcmullen, who out in -- out in california. and each detective comes back and says, ah. i -- we think something happened. but -- and they're -- you know, the guy who interviews weaver says i don't think weaver was involved. and the one who talks to gandle. i don't think gandle was involved. and the same thing happens with mcmullen and another one goes to felsh. i don't think felsh was involved. so, what basic basis does kaminsky 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 is a national commission in baseball. ruling baseball. and it's made up of three members. national league president, american league president, american league president is van
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johnson. he is running the game and -- but he's ticked people off. so, the white sox, the boston red sox, and the new york yankees are against him and they want to dump him. and he's investigating the white sox, at the same time. he finds out about maharg. they track 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 philly-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 an ally of ban johnson.
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johnson is plumping mcdonald to be the new commissioner of baseball. they are going to have a commissioner. and the real favorite for this job is judge kennesaw. he had been the guy who fined standard oil $26 million in 1907 and chased down the iww and the socialist party and the antiwar people doing the war. and helped 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 is too strong a guy. he'll never be able to control landis and nobody did. he wants mcdonald. and hoping that this grand jury will elevate mcdonald 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,
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immediately, get into investigating the black sox. three of the players confess to the grand jury. williams, weaver, and jackson. felsh con -- confesses to a newspaper reporter in a newspaper reporter in philadelphia. the acquittal is, well, there's a scene in the movie where 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 misstatement. they were missing but were immediately reconstructed from stenographer notes. so they did not impact the trial much at all. the judge of the trial said you
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can't use these confessions by these three guys, jackson, weaver, and seacot against the other players, and you must also prove the intent that they were going to defraud people. how do you prove intent? how do you know what's going on if someone's mind. in two hours and 47 minutes, the jury comes back and they say acquitted. all the black sox players are acquitted and think they're home scot-free. they are not, because what the judge does within hours is to issue a statement saying that regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who has thrown the game or conspired to throw a game or who has sat in on a
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meeting of crooked players and gamblers will ever play baseball, organized baseball again. and that takes care of a whole bunch of people. and a whole bunch of things. it's very eloquent and lawyerly at the same time. regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who has fixed a game. everyone knew you were 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 came later on. 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. what happens is, they are broken up very quickly, because the
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players, the honest players who know about these schemes and offered bribes will immediately rat on their fellow teammates. nobody wants to be next buck weaver. once that barrier of silence is broken, baseball becomes a clean game. that's one of the things you see in the news story at this time about the black sox or baseball in general. it's clean game. it's a clean game. it's not like boxing or horse racing. if the game had not been cleaned up, it would have been the same as boxing. which fighter was on the level, et cetera, et cetera. all of this is tied up in so
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many amaing stories. notice that rothstein, where is he at the trial? he goes before the grand jury and complains he's being assaulted by the reporters. and that's the story there, they put out this story he was assaulted. who was controlling the grand jury? it was judge mcdonald and who was controlling him? ban johnson. why would ban johnson want rothstein to be cleared? because of that power struggle for baseball. rothstein was partners in a casino in havana and maybe even partners in the giants with a guy named charles stoneham. stoneham would have been one of the votes to help prop up
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johnson to survive as the leader of baseball. 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 baseball here is this remarkable story of human frailty, of people thinking they can get away with something. and finding out that they can't. finding out that things will not be tolerated anymore and that's why baseball and because of that and a guy named babe ruth, why baseball survived that series and why we're looking forward to it starting tomorrow night. thank you. [ applause ] i'll take some questions. i guess i'll repeat them so cspan audience can hear them. but any questions? yes.
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>> did the other white sox players who weren't in on it, did they know about it? >> they didn't, but weaver never took any money. the question is, who got what amount of money and seacot 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. gandle in the article in the 1950s says that weaver wanted the money up front. okay? at one point, he was saying we could take the money and get the winning share of the series. which was about $5,000 as compared to about 32,000 for the loser. but again, i wouldn't trust gandle about anything.
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the other players don't know, but they really suspect, and the catcher gets really visibly upset even on the field and in the clubhouse during the series. so they know -- they know but they can't prove. what is true about the cinematic accounts of this it's a factional ball club. you've got guys who really can't stand the other guys. gandle in that interview he says, when he was talking about letting somebody into the fix, he says, yeah, we didn't love them but we didn't hate them as much as the other guys, so it's quite the crew. yes, anything else? yes?
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>> the most famous was shumann. >> yeah. what, in your view, was his culpability in this whole drama? >> again, this story is just so damn 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 for either team. he has no errors. he catches a man home at the plate. okay. but he takes the money. he takes $5,000 and 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 meeting -- there's two meetings.
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there was one of all the players together to discuss the fix and then later with the gamblers and he's at neither one. now it, i think one might say, okay. here's some things he said to the press after he gave his confession. he did confess. he said to the press afterwards, i said i got $5,000 and they promised me 20,000. all i got was the 5,000 and lefty williams handed me in a dirty envelope. i never got the other 15,000. well, boohoo hoo. i told that to 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. 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
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been talking about the third game of the world series being square. let me tell you something. the eight of us did our best to kick it and dickey carr won that game by his pitching because those gamblers double crossed us because we double crossed them. now what he may have done consciously is this. he may have decided to split hairs 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 sox are down 10-5 in the last game, when things are out of reach and when he gets the guy out at home, the throw is off-line. shaw makes this incredible play to dive backward and get the ball home. it's shaw's play, really, and not his.
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but that he lends his name to the fix. the gamblers might not want to put all this money and be sure it's going through without the premier named player r attached to it. so he said i'll use my name. i think that may be his culpability there. he's illiterate, and there's a difference between uneducated and dumb. he runs several businesses afterwards and doesn't run them into the ground so he has some native smarts, but the thing -- well, there was a petition recently from the people in south carolina where he's really a hero, greenville, south carolina, there's a museum to him, and i think they're moving
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his house down the road and putting in a bigger museum, and it was just announced there's a movie about him in development, and development and being made are two different things. he continues to be a folk hero of sorts, but it reminds me of the circumstances with pete rose, when it was more active when pete rose would go in. people would ask me when i was doing more baseball stuff. how do you feel about pete rose going into the hall of fame? i said you know, i don't care that much for pete rose, for what he did, but if you wanted to stick it to him, here's what you do. a few years back, there would be a debate about whether ralph kiner belonged in the hall of fame.
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or the scooter, or richie ashburn or somebody. and then we have a lot of talk about them. 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 best guy or most famous guy not in the hall of fame. that would kind of do the same for joe if he were in but if he's in and family is coming in, father, mother, parent has got the kid there and looking at this plaque, so what did this guy do? what took him so long to get here? is this the best baseball has to offer, you know, that he took the money and complained about not getting more? you know? one of the things about honor and such, the reason -- one of
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the reasons why landis may apply that standard to buck weaver is he had a nephew in the u.s. military academy, and the honor code of i will not lie, cheat, steal nor will i tolerate anybody who does, okay, is what essentially applied to weaver. yes? yes, sir? >> how did the sox begin rebuilding the team? >> money. money. they buy a lot of players and don't turn out all that well. this is the era when you could buy players. not just from the other major league teams. you could buy them from the majors. specifically from the pacific coast league. in the '30s, those guys are purchased in the pcl and
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comiskey is doing this in the 1920s. he paid big bucks for them although in the 19 -- the mid 1920s, shaw becomes the manager of the white sox and posts a winning record. comiski is so involved in the cover up. 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 1920 is this, the grand jury has heard the confessions of the three players and the hammer goes down and he
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suspects the black sox, and i was going to say eight, but it's seven that were left with the team because gandle was not playing with the team. he left to retire and go to california bf that. but with the season, with about three games left to go and the sox still in the pennant race, comiski guts his team at that point and gets rid of these guys and sinks their chance for a second consecutive pennant. an interesting thing happens at that point where the owner of the yankees, jake rupert, who just acquired this hotshot, babe ruth. he says, this is terrible, i'll loan you babe ruth for the rest of the season. the commission says, no, we don't do that. but again a lot of things which happened in the wake of that. yes.
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going once. going twice. oh, i'll tell you one story. why didn't abe patel appear at the trial? these two weren't at the trial. arnold 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, and the best defense is a good offense. so late in the '20s, he puts hurst on trial. he printed these lies about fixing jurors because i know the
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truth and i have the birth certificates of the twin daughters that randolph hurst fathered by maran davies, and it's a complete lie. there's no twins! it's made up. so he would come out with stuff like this. he makes up the story about rothstein being assaulted by reporters. in chicago. poor rothstein. but what he remarkably does is rothstein and fallon had sent him out of the country to montreal, go hide, stay there and just shut up. but then they think it over and fallon brings him back. he is walking through times square one day and a couple detectives, a pickpocket squad, go up to him and arrest him and rain him for his part in the black sox fix.
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then they bring in a witness from chicago named sammy pass who atell had bet with on the series and pass would have said atell bet with me. he shows up in court. this is atell. he was remembered as the feather weight champion of the world. he was a famous guy. and pat says no, it was a atell that i bet with, this was complete perjury. this is a total lie. money was passed pass at grand central terminal or penn station. when he got into town. so atell walks that way. this is how chicago justice and new york justice was handled in those ways. and so that in the when the
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trial concludes with the black sox, one of the most suspicious things that happened, this looks like it would have been invented in hollywood for eight men out, but it's not, that the celebrating players and their attorneys go to an italian restaurant in chicago and now those guys at sabre have figured out where the restaurant was and then it was owned by an associate of al capone, 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 the story of justice
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1919. and hopefully 2019 series will end up a lot better. thank you. >> thank you. weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight an evening of african-american history. civil rights activist cleveland sellers talks about his work in the 1960s as a national leader of the student nonviolent coordinating committee, and recounts the 1968 massacre where troopers fired on students protesting segregation. three students were killed. joseph riley conducts the interview at the citadel.
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watch tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern, and watch american history tv every weekend on c-span 3. each week american artifacts takes you into historic sites around the country. next, we visit the baseball americana exhibit at the library of congress in washington, d.c. l


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