In 1919, the Chicago White Sox played the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. The White Sox were heavily favored according to many newspapers but ended up losing the series in eight games. Many people questioned how the White Sox could lose after being favored so heavily and rumors started spreading that the White Sox had thrown the World Series. But even before the rumors spread, there were some people who knew the fix was in, including professional journalist, Hugh S. Fullerton.
During the next season, 1920, a grand jury was convened to investigate the claims. At the end of the season, eight of the White Sox players including the most famous, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson were implicated on conspiracy to defraud. All players were banned from the MLB (Major League Baseball) and Jackson was never inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame after his legendary career. The eight players banned became known as the Black Sox in history.
The news spread across the country and one article stood out to many.
Hugh S. Fullerton was the beat writer for the Chicago White Sox during the 1919 season and knew the White Sox were going to fix the World Series. In an article written by Fullerton, he describes in vivid detail about how almost everyone that was involved in baseball knew that the 1919 World Series was going to be fixed.
Fullerton had covered the team for years before this and knew that many players were upset with owner, Charles Comiskey. Players were upset about their salaries, which Comiskey decided on. Many players were disgruntled with their salaries and one, first baseman, Arnold “Chick” Gandil met with Joseph “Sport” Sullivan, a gambler to tell him that the World Series could be bought.
Other players were approached by Gandil and were asked if they were willing to throw the World Series for a sum of money. Seven players were brought in to the loop by Gandil to throw the World Series, and supposedly one of them was Jackson. Jackson, who has the stats to be in the MLB Hall of Fame, is said to be there, but there are still rumors to whether he was officially part of the fix.
Other gamblers were approached by players, including mafia member, Arnold Rothstein. Rothstein supplied the sum of money for the players before fixing the World Series, after Sullivan convinced him to.
The White Sox would go on to lose the series in eight games. After the first game (a loss by the White Sox), Comiskey and other management with the White Sox question whether the series is being fixed and Comiskey offered a reward for any information.
In a court of law, all players were found not guilty but they were suspended by Comiskey and eventually banned from baseball.
Before my research, I had no clue anyone knew that the World Series was going to be fixed. I thought that it was just fixed and then the players were banned. Fullerton, who in my opinion is a great journalist, had done his research and knew that the fix was in.
During the series, Fullerton would take detailed notes on every play. He noted that many White Sox players were making silly mistakes, such as throwing it home after a player scored. In his article he noted that the ball thrown to home plate didn’t have any power behind it. Fullerton also interviewed pitcher Eddie Cicotte. Cicotte was asked by Fullerton about the rumors floating around. Cicotte just laughed and said that the team would be fine and win.
Fullerton investigated many leads. He talked to White Sox players, Reds players, coaches and important people within baseball. An interesting detail that Fullerton wrote about was the manager of the White Sox, William “Kid” Gleason. Gleason who was not part of the fix, was angry with his players for playing so terrible during the series. In game eight, he threatened to bench every single starter. He didn’t go through with his threat and Gleason was never able to win the World Series.
Today the World Series is a seven game series. Back in 1919, it was a nine game series and it was amazing how it even lasted eight games, considering that many starters including pitchers, were throwing the series. It shows how much more talented the White Sox were than the Reds and how much money could have been made by betting on the Reds.
In 1956, Gandil wrote an article for Sports Illustrated and shared his guilt about what happened. This was the first time he had have spoken about what had happened. His guilt was very obvious, and he didn’t implicate anyone by name but did say that others were part of it.
Today, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson is still banned from the MLB and its Hall of Fame, even though he finished his career with a .356 batting average placing him third in career batting average. The rest of the banned players are now deceased and the Black Sox scandal is visited every year or so on ESPN. To this day many people don’t know that the fixed 1919 World Series was known by many before the series was played.
Some footage from the 1919 World Series
Links for more information:
“1919 World Series Footage White Sox vs Reds.” YouTube. YouTube, 16 July
2010. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJNbO1Mbl2w>.
“Black Sox Scandal.” Baseball-Reference . N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2014.
Fullerton, Hugh S. . “Hugh S. Fullerton Vividly Describes the Full Details Of Great
Baseball Scandal.” Black Sox Fan. The Atlanta Constitution , 2 Oct. 1920. Web.
2 Mar. 2014.
Gandil, Arnold Chick. “This Is My Story Of The Black Sox Series.” The ringleader
of the infamous plot, the first baseman of. Sports Illustrated , 17 Sept. 1956. Web.
4 Mar. 2014.
Philadelphia Ledger. “Baseball Probers Watch White Sox.” Chronicling America.
N.p., 24 Sept. 1920. Web. 2 Mar. 2014.
“SportsCenter Flashback: The Chicago Black Sox banned from baseball.” ESPN.
N.p., 19 Nov. 2003. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.
“The Black Sox Trial: A Chronology.” The Black Sox Trial: A Chronology. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2014. <http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/blacksox/chronology.html>.