tv 1919 Black Sox World Series Fix CSPAN April 30, 2021 6:44pm-7:54pm EDT
the village library of cooperstown. i'm the director here. we are very fortunate tonight to have esteemed historian and award-winning writer, who is not only and historian, but 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 socks scandal, where members of the chicago white sox were throwing -- throwing the world series to the cincinnati red. it brought about made changes in baseball, including giving the commissioner, and getting eight players on the white sox banned from baseball for life.
so the story of that is not really as -- it's very complicated. so the title of tonight's talk is called, field of missed, 100 years after baseballs 1919 black sox scandal. finally separating the many myths from reality, so this should be a fascinating top. and i am excited to welcome, david pietrusza. our speaker tonight. >> thank you! [applause]. >> we are gathered here tonight on the eve of this year's world series, and the 100-year -- who knows if there is going to be another world series, once that scandal was exposed and whether trust and baseball was starting to evaporate very rapidly and as david said, that's eight men out, that's
the story that we know. that's the title of the book, it was a movie, there were the legends that spawned about that. and 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 -- think of all the gambling in america. the river boat gamblers and the card sharks out west and the people like that, it's always been there. and so in baseball, in troy, new york, when i was a majorly team, there were gambling scandals, or rumors of fixes, in louisville in 1877, four players were banned for life and an umpire was thrown out, a guy named dick high, i'm in 1882. he's 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 starts at the turn of the 20th century, and in the year before, the 1919 world series, in 1918, there is a perspective scandal brewing on the cincinnati reds, the white sox play the, reds and there was a scandalous goings on in cincinnati with a first baseman named how chase, and -- he thought he had to goods and chase, and chase was really notorious. but baseball didn't do anything about it. and that was the story up until 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 --
people say, well, why did they do that? why did they do that? well, it was a high payoff, and it seemed to be a low risk. because you are employers were not about to bounce you and really do anything about it, because it was really bad publicity for the business, the business of baseball. who are the eight players who are banned? let's go around the diamond. the first one is a guy named chick gandil, he's a fairly good fielding first baseman, but he is 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 gandil, because here's a guy who looks like a complete criminal. i mean, this is one bad looking dude. and fittingly enough, maybe you can't tell a book by its cover,
but he was the basic ringleader of the whole thing. and then you had a utility in fielder who seem to be a friend of his, a guy named fred mcmullin. in terms of play in the world series, he only gets two at bats, and 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 who didn't want to cross. he is a decent field or, not that much of a hitter, and at third base is one of the more problematic members of this octane, in terms of guilt and culpability, his name is buck weaver. and he is one of actually the top third baseman in the american league. probably number two two home run baker, who had been part of the million dollar infield with conte max athletics.
we will talk about weaver later on. in center field, a good fielder, a guy named happy felsch, he has some power. he ties for the team lead in home runs in 1919 with i think eight or nine. it's the tail end of the dead ball era. the live ball air of babe ruth is going to really start up the next year, but it's not quite there in 1919, and then, you have pitchers, you need pitchers involved -- the gamblers and people like chick gandil half as part of the conspiracy the two best pitchers on the chicago white sox. eddie cicotte, who is a real trick ball pitcher, a knuckleball pitcher, a shine ball pitcher, he might rub something on his pants and then rub the ball on that to make the things scoot this way or that. he's a 29 game winner that year,
and then the other pitcher is, a 23 game winner, he's a much younger pitcher, his name is lefty williams. his -- he comes from quite a town, in south southern missouri. even though it's only got about three or 3000 people, even to this day, the barker, the mob parker game, the bank robbers from the 1930s, they came from this small town. and also a guy who shot up a synagogue in oakland park in kansas city, the same town. so i don't know with 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
i. world war i really disrupts baseball because the issue, of what is called a worker fight order. and that means that if you are not involved in the war effort, either -- they will draft you. they don't do selective service or pull your name 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 games. we call that up until 1961, with expansion in the american league, it's 156 games. so there's fewer games, there's fewer attendants, there is 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 plan. in a defense related industry. and what's one of the biggest industries? shipyards. we've got to get those guys over to france, so we need boats and we need to -- there's a big shipyard in delaware and shoeless joe jackson and lefty williams and the reserve catcher for the white sox, bird lynn, they go over and work there and happy felsch works for a defense plant in milwaukee. so the core, a good core of the black socks, of the white sox, are jumping, and this is the way the owner of the white sox, charles committee, interprets that. jumping the team to go get these jobs in the defensive land in the shipyards, they are
highly paid and a lot of these -- they see them as swaggers, as draft dodgers, as unpatriotic. because they are drawing a good salary to stay out of the war and play baseball for these shipyards on the weekends. comiskey doesn't even want to let these guys in. comiskey is also opposed to this nine game series idea, the world series. and comiskey it's portrayed as a great money grubber. a money grabber. and we will deal more with that later on. but he is opposed to the nine game series. why? is it just a traditionalist? a conservative? well, maybe. but remember what i said about eddie cicotte and lefty williams, the two pitchers, they've got 29 wins, and 23 wins respectively.
but really, in a 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, 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 stuck behind eddie cicotte and williams, and after that it was a guy named dickie car, a rookie who won 13 games, and then red favor, a hall-of-famer, but he was sick. he had the flu, he had health problems, physical problems, he only went 11 games, and he's so sick that he's not even going to pit one game in the world series. so the white sox basically have a 2.5 man rotation going into the world series. they've got a problem.
lefty williams and eddie cicotte one 59% of all white sox games that years, and if you take out favor, they won 71%. so if you get these guys, if the gamblers get to these guys, things look really good for a fix. and the pitching is really the achilles heel, it's so big, it's the achilles foot of the white sox that year. now, the white sox are going to lose, they are playing to lose, in eight games. two of the worst players, the most suspicious players, 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 cra in that series, the american the average that year was 3.32. and swede risberg, a good
feeling shortstop, makes for errors. so he comes under suspicion. the third man of that staff in the series is a rookie, he is really a small guy, he's like five foot seven or so, but even with the white sox playing, or the black sox plane to those 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 eddie is going to lose a couple of games, and bang, they are out. what are the myths? the myths, you've seen in the movie eight men out, which was made by director john sayles, it had an all star cast, it was made in the late eighties, but at the same time, in a more romanticized haphazard way, in
the more popular movie, field of dreams, with kevin costner, where shoeless joe jackson and the black sox welcome back and be rehabilitated and get to play again, they 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 arthur named elliott as an of. the gist of this is why the white sox do it. and this is but we are dealing with. the myth that is this. it's charles comiskey fault. it's that these guys were exploited working men, they were not being paid very well, they were among the lowest paid
teams in the american league, even though they were dependent winner that year. comiskey was cheating them on bonuses, specifically on eddie cicotte to. 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 clean their uniforms. he was an all around the bad guy, and the black sox just were writing a wrong. they were sticking it to the man. and getting justice, we're true budget to justice by direct action. and the problem with this theory is that it's all wrong. i did two books, which dealt with the scandal. one was my biography of kenesaw mountain landis, the
commissioner who came in and fix this mess, and the other was a gambler -- one of the gambler are rothstein, who bankrolled it. but since that rothstein book has come out, but we have had is a massive data dump by major league baseball, and also just the fact that technology is changing. 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 micro film, you can look stuff up easily, you don't have to rely on some relative scrapbook, and you can find stuff. but the real key thing to dispelling the myths of charles comiskey as the scrooge of baseball, a 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 --
the teams would have to send to the league offices what they were paying each guy. if they got someone 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? but did he sound -- did you pay him a bonus? and all of this was in the league office file, and major league baseball dumped it across the street here in cooperstown, to 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 hard by card by card, and they figured out about the black sox were making, and you've got to have context. so they were making something. well, the numbers of what any of them was paid in 1919 are pretty pathetic compared to
what they're being paid now, because the dollar is pretty pathetic now. but what were the black socks being paid then? consider this. the white sox finished sixth in 1918. okay? it was the war, they had lost some guys, and other teams had lost guys as well. probably all evened out. but they went from world champions in 1917 to six in 1918. and yet, and yet, at the beginning of that season they, will have the third highest payroll in the american league. and at the end of that season, they're going to be the most highly paid team in the american league. okay, they are not underpaid at all. now, another aspect of this you may read or may have heard of is they were much better than the cincinnati reds.
and the reds repaid more than they were. no, no! the rest for the six highest paid team in the nationally, and its highest paid team in the major leagues. of the 15 highest paid players in the american league, five of them were on the white sox. two of them, who were honest players on the team, eddie collins, the second baseman, who is getting 15,000 dollars, which was the second highest salary in baseball. ty kabul is getting 20,000 dollars. and racial, the catcher, who was the highest paid catcher in the american league. he was getting 7000 -- 7083 dollars. three members of the black sox, eddie cicotte, joe jackson, and buck weaver were among the top 15 players, and the next year, of the 17 highest -- members of the black sox.
so comiskey it was not under paying his players. what was he getting paid? it's easy for you to say, mr. comiskey. because of the war in 1918, the previous two years, he had been drawing 10,000 dollars a year, and he owned the team! and he took a cut to 5000 dollars a year. also, the revenues really went down that year. so white sox of tendons went down by 70% in 1918, and the team lost 46,000 dollars. so consider all those things and things -- the myths of why the white sox did it. the bonuses. one of the stories that i didn't mentioned earlier, is that the players were promised a bonus, and all they got -- you've seen this in the movie
eight men out, and all they get is a case of champagne. and they opened it up, and it's like -- it's flat. it's stale. and they are incensed about this! well, it -- they were not -- they could not have been promised a bonus as a team. okay? we know they were promised champagne, they got champagne. how bad it was, who knows. but they put forward a rule that you cannot promise a bonus to team members if they won the world series. -- some losing teams ended up getting a higher bonus than the winning teams in the world series. so this was -- one of the owners who did this, he had caused the losing team to have more than the winning team. this would have been in 1906.
it was against the cheapskate charles comiskey he, paid out about as to the losing members of the team, 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 cicotte, there is a big scene in the movie where eddie cicotte goes in and says, i was promised a bonus of 10,000 dollars, mr. comiskey, if i won 30 games. and i was held back. you wouldn't let the nfl -- to win the 30th game. and communicate goes to his secretary, the general manager, and he says, could you look at the records how many games mr. cicotte one -- 29 is not 30. but that's not true, again.
bonuses were not promised that way. they would not be promised a 10,000 dollar bonus when his base salary was 5000 dollars. it would be and -- in increments. they would also be, maybe you get so much more if you've got 120 games, you won 25 games, in fact, this is what happened with lefty williams that year, he got to 15 games, and 20 games, and you got extra bonuses for that. but really, why it's not true is because eddie did get that chance to win 30 games and lost. 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 bonus to someone who would win 30 games that year. 30 games was pretty rare, even back then. i think walter johnson had done it in 1913, but it was really rare, even then. and also, eddie cicotte led the american league in losses the year before. so none of this makes any sense. but cicotte does get a bonus. the truth of the matter is, he, 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 had a 1917, when he won 28 games that he would get a 3000 dollar bonus. well, he stunk up a lot in 1918. but comiskey, because he's good the next year in 1919, gives him the bonus he was promised. 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, mid, mid, mid, mid, mid. if cicotte did this, if he was in on the fix, and he was one of the ringleaders, because he was stiff on the bonus, which would have occurred 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 buck weaver's conversations with a detective hired by charles comiskey that cicotte was talking about the fix in june? okay? so fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. how great were the white sox? we hear over and over again
that they were one of the greatest teams in baseball history. well, they were pretty good! they won the world championship in 1917, they won the pennant in 1919. but they won it by 3.5 games. even in a 140 game season, that's not all that impressive. that's kind of middling. they were supposed to roll over the cincinnati webs. while the reds won their ended by nine games. nine games. and they have the highest court one loss percentage in baseball, it's not exceeded until the 1927 yankees. it bad at all. their second have season is amazing. they have a one loss percentage of 0.712. they are on fire going into the
world series. 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 of that 1919 world series. there is another myth, which is maybe not as important, but in terms of how difficult it was to garner information to construct histories of the two black sox, and elliott astronaut writes that basically, there was a wall of silence. it involved not only the key black sox, but the clean sox, the honest players, those who played against them, there was this cone of silence that fell down above 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 easily,
that 20 different reds and white sox players gave at least 85 different interviews afterwards. now some of these aren't 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 we're not willing to talk with a fellow whose history of the black sox is the standard history. i had the pleasure of meeting elliott late in his life, we were watching a series on espn, which was premiering, and he seemed like a nice fellow and it was suffering from lyme disease than, but i first read it men out when i would have been in high school. it was terrific. and it was a brilliant narrative. it is such a wonderfully written book and you just have
to have the feeling that he's got it, all this is every detail in here, and it would be very hard for me to improve on it. 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 how things were supposed to happen it just could -- this doesn't make sense other people have pointed out, and i should've picked up on this, i first read the book when i was in high school so it's like well i'm not exactly mr. experienced author at that point. but there are --
there are interior thoughts expressed. so and so was thinking that. or this. good historians don't put that down. novelist put that down. eliot asinof wasn't all this and a screenwriter. he's creating this narrative going forward, forward, forward. and providing all these details, which you should pick up on, it was, like how could he have known this, or details, how could he have known this level of detail. -- quote, he, chick gandil, smiled as you saw the bills that sullivan withdrew from his coat pocket. how would he have disinformation? how would he have this? so this is why this book has been described as a historical
novel. i historical novel. and there are further imaginary characters there. 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 in the eighth game of the series. how do we know he's imaginary? because they asinof told us this, and i'm -- i did this on the advice of my publisher to protect my copyright. in case someone is going to page arise me. you can't copyright and individual. you can't copyright a fact. okay? this doesn't make any sense. so he has this character and other people -- their minor characters in here that are completely fictitious as well. and in fact, there was at least one other fictitious character in this. now, he consulted a couple of
other authors, quite famous people, to get an idea of what went down with the white sox. two guys who had grown up in chicago, and whose heroes had been too black sox -- if you've ever seen the movie the man with the golden arm there, or walk on the wild side, the book, his hero was swede risberg. and james farrell, who wrote studs line again, his hero was buck weaver. and they were both very left-wing authors. so they had this working man against management ideology. two and asinof himself had the same ideology, he was blacklisted. he was blacklisted in the 19 fifties, he fronted for blacklisted authors, and two so, he comes at the topic with this
kind of eyes, which is not bad, if you get the facts right. and as i think you understand by now, the facts were not right. the facts were not right because in some ways, because he didn't have the material, but then he embellished the material, and fit everything into 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 -- there's an increasing body of thought that was started with the players. that it started with chick gandil and eddie cicotte. we know the eight players who are involved on the black sox, in one form or another. that's finite. we are pretty sure of that. but the gamblers are all over the place. there is about four or five
different groups of them in various places. there's a guy name sports sullivan in boston, big gambler. big guy. he was involved in betting in the 1914 world series. as the handling of the best for george and cohen. he won a bundle on that, on the underdog boston braves, the miracle braves, a real 1969 mets kind of team, who swept conte max philadelphia a's. there's some concern about whether that series was fixed, and maybe that's why connie mack broke up the team. arthur austin, the person i wrote about, the big big role, the big brain, the go-to guy, the lone shark, the labor racketeer, the gambler, the casino owner, the rum runner, the bootleg, or the drug smuggler, the guy who's involved in everything in new york, with tammy hall politics
and wall street bucket shops and even loan them money to finance broadway shows, he's the big bankroll. that was the name of a book about him. 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. maybe you can make that work, there's 80,000 dollars, 10,000 dollars a man being -- in front of the white sox. but then what do you do? you've got to lay down pets to make money on the world series. there's no use doing this as some intellectual exercise that we are going to just fix the series and go with that. the point is to put down pets and make a bundle of money. so you've got to have two pot
of money that way. bribed the players, lay down the beds. rothstein can supply that. then there are a whole bunch of gamblers from the midwest, there was a fellow named henry kidd becker, who had been working on fixing the 1918 world series. he didn't quite pull it off, and was thinking about doing the 1919 world series, but unfortunately, he was shot dead in april 1919. this by the husband of one of his girlfriends. but he left behind other gamblers in st. louis, a guy named carl short, harry ramen, ben franklin. other gamblers in des moines, this is interesting. they supposedly honest stay, it upright midwest, you see all these gambling centers in their. and in des moines, there's a guy named david stelter, and ben and liu levy. big gamblers, they are going to be involved in this. then a fourth group, well, i don't know if you got called to
people a group, and they are sleepy bill burns and a guy named billy moe hard. sleepy bill burns and a majorly pitcher of no great reputed at all. no great energy, which is why he was called sleepy bill. he would literally fall asleep on the bench. but he had left baseball and became -- he was speculating in oil in texas. he was a texan. but he would come up and hang around with all the ballplayers and tried to sell them or tried to get him to invest in oil. so he's traveling this circuit, this majorly city, he's on trains with the players, in 1919. and he hears this rumor, and in fact, the players approach him. they are so crooked, even though they've got 80,000 dollars on the table now, promised, from the gamblers sullivan and rothstein, they go to these guys and say, we will throw it to you, 400,000.
such a bargain! and burns doesn't have any kind of money like this. my heart doesn't either. he's working in a locomotive plant in philadelphia. and he goes to philadelphia to raise the money and in philadelphia, you know who's got the money? the guy in new york, arnold rothstein's got the money, go see him, and they do and they try to see him at the racetrack, they try to see him in his office and rothstein is not -- invites them to meet with him to discuss the fix, and he knows they are coming to discuss the fix. in the middle of the restaurant at the biggest hotel in times square, the hotel asked, or 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 new york city judge. he's got witnesses to what will happen, which is rothstein blowing up and saying, i want no part of your fix. i want nothing to do with it. of course, he has another fix going on. that's why. and he is creating an alibi. a very big alibi he had nothing to do with any sort of fix. which is of course, false. and he soon comes to think that, well, maybe i can make these burns and others work for me. yes, i will tell them out give him the money, and then i will tell the players there will be another hundred thousand in the pot for them, and with all this money dangled, these guys -- i don't even have to advance
anymore. and if something goes wrong, maybe these guys will take the wrap. so the rothstein -- another former boxer, he was the featherweight champion of the world in fact. very famous guy, and rachel brown, who is really named net evans, and seltzer, he's involved, but he's going by an alias. lots of people are going by aliases and rothstein is a slow pay. . he knows the value of keeping money around so you can invest another thing, such as loan sharking. if you don't pay the white sox players, but you promised them right away, say you are holding on to another 40 or 50,000 dollars, you can use that for betting on them, because you know the outcome. or you can just lonesome money
to some guy in times square. so why put the money he used that way and hang on to it? being a slope able eventually get him killed after he's -- 300,000 dollars in a very high stakes poker game in 1928, but his guys are not paying the white sox right away. and they feel sniffed. so they're going to eventually start playing to win, everybody is double crossing everyone else, and that is why for example, eddie cicotte when that one game that he wins in the 1919 world series. and why? even though harry f was made up by eliot asinof, there were threats coming in, there is a count of one threat that was williams, and chick gandil later on in an interview, and i don't vouch for chick gandil's voracity, he said there were calls coming from gamblers all the time, threatening these
guys to shape up. when you get eight players involved and then i've named 11 gamblers not counting harry f, you've got a minimum of 19 guys here, and they can't keep their mouths shut. there are some reasons why you can't, good reason, say you are crooked player and your relative, your friend, not that money on your team. you go -- no! don't bet -- bet on the other guy! they can't keep their mouths shut. rumors of the fix start in august, in saratoga, racine tells a gambler that the series is going to be fixed. he tells the former owner of the chicago cubs, a guy named charlie wedeman, about.
it eventually comiskey at the start of the season, he will know about the rumors. he will 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 fulton. and it's interesting, when they come out, the sporting news, the bible of baseball, comes out and lambasted fullerton and really, there's a famous account by them, which is incredibly antisemitic about a bunch of hook nosed, thick limped gamblers. and just because they do things, don't believe that anyone in our great game, our great american game, played by americans, whatever stoop to this. well, they certainly stooped to
it. comiskey investigated and hired gamblers in the off-season. how much he covered this up, how much he knew, how much he really knew, there's knowing, and there's proving. he offered a 10,000 dollar reward right after the series to anyone who could prove that the series was fixed. and one of the st. louis gamblers comes forward and says, i want to 10,000 dollars! and here's what happened. and actually, it's through him 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? comiskey hires detectives at the cost 20,000 dollars to interview on the slide, to get close to, and gain the confidence of, weaver and chick gandil and mick mullen out in california. and each detective comes back and says, well, we think something happened, but the guy
who interviews weaver says, i don't think lever was involved. and the one who talks to chick gandil, i don't think he was involved. the same thing happens with fred mcmullin and another one goes to happy felsch, i don't think he was involved. what's basic basis this committee have to bring action? really? none. really, none. what's going on now with the black socks is that there's a national commission in baseball ruling baseball, and it's made up of three members. nationally president, american league president, and the american league president is van johnson. he is running the game. but he is taking people off. so the white sox, the boston red sox, and the new york yankees are against him. they want to dump him. and he is investigating the white sox at the same time and
at the same time he finds out -- . they tracked down bill burns in mexico and a grand jury convenes in chicago. they investigate a baseball scandal. so what's the scandal, the scandal is that maybe they philadelphia fillies cup game is going to be fixed. what does this have to do the white sox? nothing. the story appears to have been planted so that the grand jury jury can investigate crookedness in baseball. the grand jury is being run by a judge, charles mcdonald. who is an ally of ban johnson war. 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 kenesaw.
landis. he chased down the i-w. w. in the socialist party during the war. and it helped save baseball. and there's a third league being formed in 1914, 1915. johnson doesn't want gladys because he's too strong a guy. he will never be able to control him. and he wants macdonald. hoping that this grand jury will elevate mcdonald to be the star of the show. but he's not the star of the show. he is never going to overshadow kenesaw mountain landis. but what they do is immediately get into investigating the black socks. three of the players confessed to the grand jury. williams, weaver and jackson. and a whole bunch of people are indicted. players and the gamblers.
they are eventually acquitted. they are all acquitted. the acquittal is, well, there is a scene in the movie of eight men out, where it's revealed that the grand jury confessions have been stolen and suddenly the prosecution has no basis for prosecution. again a really a misstatement. but they were immediately reconstructed from stenographer notes. it didn't impact the trial much at all. what did impact the trial, was the judge hugo -- said you can't use these confessions by these three guys joe jackson and buck weaver and eddie cicotte from the other players. and you must also prove the intent. the intent that they were going to try to defraud people.
so how do you prove intent? how do you know what's going on in somebody's mind but? that really helps kill the chances for a conviction. in two hours and 47 minutes, the jury comes back. and they say acquitted. all of the black sox players are acquitted. and i think they're home scot-free. they're not homes got free, because what kenesaw mountain landis does is to issue a statement saying that regardless of the verdict of the juries, no player has thrown the game or conspired to throw a game, or has sat in on a meeting of cricket players and gamblers. and has not so informed his ball club, will ever play organized baseball again. and that takes care of a whole bunch of people. and a whole bunch of things. it's eloquent and very lawyer lee all the same time.
regardless of the verdict of the jury. no player with six again. so everybody knew you weren't supposed to fix again, although it was not illegal. they were not indicted for fixing again. okay. there was no law against it. that came later on. but you knew not to do that. so you knew that cicotte and chick gandil should not be in the game anymore. but also the guys who sat in on the meeting. which would've been people like buck weaver, ordered who did not inform their club. there's got to be a couple of scandals in the 20s later on, and what happens is they are broken up really quickly. very quickly because the players or the honest players who know about these scandals and offer bribes, they will immediately wrap on their fellow teammates. nobody wants to be the next buck weaver. once that barrier of silence is broken and baseball becomes a
clean game. that's one of the things you see in the new stories at this time about the black socks. or about baseball in general. it's a clean game. it's a clean game. it is not like boxing, it's not like horse racing. this is something we can believe in. and if kenesaw mountain landis had not done that at the game had not been cleaned up, it would've gone down the same route as boxing. you would know which fight is on the level, and which round the thing was going to end in a citrus at or. and all of this is tied up in so many amazing stories. where for example, notice that rothstein where is he at the trial? people like that, these people disappear. sullivan just disappears for a while. rothstein goes before the grand jury and complaints that he is
being assaulted by the reporters and that is the story there. they put a story that he was assaulted. so who is controlling the grand jury? well it was judge mcdonald, and who was controlling judge mcdonald well that was ban johnson. so why would ban johnson want roth seem to be cleared. because of that power struggle for baseball. can rothstein was partners in a casino in havana, and maybe even a partner in the giants with a guy named charles stone. stone would've been one of the votes to help prop up johnson in baseball. and that never happens because, again another double crossed double crossed double cross. what we have with the black socks, and 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, and finding out that things will not be tolerated and that is why baseball, and because of that and also a guy named babe ruth, why baseball survived that period. and while we're looking forward to starting tomorrow night. thank you. now i will take some questions. and i guess i will repeat them, so the c-span audience can hear them. so are there any questions? >> yes. >> yes. >> did the other white socks players do they know about it? >> they didn't. well buck weaver never took any money. the question was who got the most amount of money, and
cicotte got the most that we know. he got 10,000. he got what he was promised. the others all got five. and we've got nothing, because he won't agree to it. and chick gandil in the article in the 19 fifties, he says that buck weaver wanted the money upfront. at one point he says we could take the money and we could double cross the players and get a winning share of the seats. which was about 5000 dollars, compared to 32,000 dollars for the loser. and again i wouldn't trust chick gandil about anything. so the other players don't know, but they really suspect that the catcher, he gets visibly upset on the field and in the clubhouse, during the seas or
the see the season. that's the catcher. and they know but they cannot prove. and it's it's hard what is true about the cinematic accounts of this, is that it is a factional ball club. you have guys who really can't stand the other guys. and chick gandil in the interview he says, when he's talking about letting somebody in, he said yeah we didn't love them, but we didn't hate him as much as the other guys. it is quite the crew. >> yes anything else? >> yes. >> the most famous of the white sox players, what's in your view was his culpability, in his drama. >> again this story is just so darn complex. what complicates it, there are
two things that complicate jackson. one is that he gets three 75 in the series. he has 12 hits which i think was a record for a long time. he gets the only home run of the series. for either team. he has no errors. he catches a man home at the plate. but, he takes the money. he takes 5000 dollars he gets it handed to him by leslie williams. so and he is not at the meetings. he is the one guy who does not attend either meeting. there are two meetings, one of all the players together and leader with the gamblers. and he is at neither one. i think one might say, okay
here is something that he has said to the press after he gave his confession. he didn't confess he said to the press afterwards, i said i got 5000 dollars and they promised me 20,000. all i got was the 5000 that lefty williams handed me in a dirty envelope. i never got the other 15,000. i told that to judge macdonald. 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. it's a hell of a statement. then he said and i'm going to give you a tip. a lot of these boarding rioters have been roasting me, and 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 little vicky car won that game because he wanted, 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 to be suspicious about my activities. and 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 when he gets the guy at home, the throw is off line. -- makes incredible play to catch it and come back and gets his you know gets his runner at home. but that he lends his name to things. the gamblers might not want to put all this money and be sure that it's going through without the premier name player attached to it.
so he says, yeah he was my name. i think that maybe his culpability there. he is illiterate, that is very famous. so but i think there's a difference between an educated and dumb. and he runs several businesses afterwards and he does not run them into the ground, so he has some native smarts. but the thing about you know and there was a petition just recently from the people in south carolina, where he really is a hero. there is a museum to him, and i think that they are moving his house down the road. and it was just announced that there was a movie about him which is in development. you know and developments it's being made that sort of things but still he continues to be a folk hero of sorts.
but it reminds me of the circumstances with pete rose. when there was more active in pete rose would go in. and people would ask me when i was doing more baseball stuff, how do you feel about pete rose going to the whole thing? 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 pete rose. here's what you do. a few years back, there would be a debate about whether ralph connor belonged in the hall of fame, or fill resumed, oh and for somebody and they would have a lot to talk about it. then they would get in, and no one ever mentioned them again. so if you want to vary a guy publicly, you put him in the hall of fame.
you make him the 188 best member of the hall of fame. instead of the best guy or, most famous guy not in the hall of fame. and that would kind of be the same thing for shoeless joe if you are in. but if he's in, and the family is coming in and the father or mother and they've got a little kid there and they're looking at this plaque, as like so what did this guy do? what took him so long to get here? is this the best baseball has to offer? that he took the money and complained about not getting more. but one of the things about honor, and such, the reason or one of the reasons why kenesaw mountain landis they put that standard on buck weaver is because landis i had a nephew in the military academy. and that honor code of i will
not cheat or steal or a nor will i tolerate anyone who does. that's what is essentially applied to buck weaver come. >> and yes or you have questions. >> 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 this is the era when you could buy players, not just for from other major league teams, but you could buy them from the pacific coast lead. so in the thirties, joe demand geo, ted williams, those guys are purchased from the pc f. and they're doing this in the 19 twenties, and the guys he gets you know i can't even remember their names. and he they paid big bucks for them. but in the mid 19 twenties, i
think the manager of the white sox, he posts a winning record. and if comiskey it's so involved in the cover-up, you know protect his investment in the team, and that's why he doesn't ban all these guys in 1919. but what he does do in 1920 is this. the grand jury has heard the confessions of the three players. so comiskey ask acts like boom the hammer goes down. and he suspense the black socks. i was going to say the eight but seven because chick gandil is not playing with team, he had left to retire and go to california. but with the season, with about three games left to go, and the
socks still in the pennant race, at that point comiskey gets his team and gets rid of these guys and sinks the chance for a second pendant. the interesting thing at that point, the owner of the yankees, jake rupert, who has just acquired this hot shot babe ruth, he says that is terrible what has happened to comiskey. i will loan you babe ruth for the rest of the season. but the league commissioner says no we don't do that. but again a lot of things happen what was very interesting in the wake of that. yes no the question? going once twice? oh, i will tell you a little story than. why didn't abe tell not appear
at the trial? these two gamblers not at the trial? there was a person named bill fallon, who was an inventive attorney. and a great jury fixer as well. he may have fixed a juror along the way. but what he does, he would invent these incredible defenses where the best defense is a good offense. so at one point in the late twenties, where he's accused of fixing a jury. 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 hearst father. this was a complete lie, it's completely made up there are no twins. he would come out with stuff like this, he makes it the
story about rothstein being assaulted by reporters in chicago. so rothstein becomes the victim. oh poor him. but what he remarkably does, is that rothstein and fallon, had sent abe a tail out of the box out of the country to montreal. and then they thought over, and fallon brings him back this guy a tell. the child is walking through times square one day, and top couple of detectives go up to him and arrest him at a rain him for his part in the black socks fix. then they bring in a witness from chicago named sammy pass, who they had made a bet with and he would say the series was fixed and i was defrauded.
so he shows up in court and says and you can remember him abe tell he was a famous guy, and they said no it was a different abe attell that i bet with. and it was complete my. so abe attell walks not way. so this is how chicago justice, and new york justice was handled in those days. so in you know where the trial concludes, with the black socks, and one of the most suspicious things that happened and it looks like it would've been invented by the people in hollywood. but it's not. that the celebrating players and their attorneys go to an
italian restaurant in chicago, and now those guys have figured out where the restaurant was and it was owned by an associate of al capone, and the players and their attorneys are in one room in this restaurant, and there is a movable partition between another room and the jurors are in that next room. the wall comes down, and they have a wonderful party together. and also some of the grand jurors used to visit new york after that. they would be treated to wonderful things and that is the story of justice, 1919. hopefully the 2019 series will end up a lot better. thank you.