About the 1919 World Series Scandal

1919 the Chicago White SoxOn September 24, 1919 the Chicago White Sox clinched the American League pennant, sending them to the World Series. Their opponent would be the Cincinnati Reds. Just before the start of the Series, the odds were 5 – 1 in favor of the Chicago White Sox. But as rumors spread of a World Series fix, the odds shifted to 8 – 5 in favor of the Cincinnati Reds. The following is a brief game-by-game account of the 1919 World Series. It began on Wednesday, October 1, 1919.

Game 1 – A crowd of 30,511 had gathered to watch the 9 – 1 win by the Reds over the White Sox. The significant play in game one happened at the bottom of the first inning when pitcher Ed Cicotte of the Sox hit leadoff batter Morrie Rath signaling to gamblers that the fix was on.

Game 2 – With 29, 698 in attendance, the Reds once again defeated the White Sox to take a 2 – 0 lead in the Series. Pitcher Lefty Williams walked six batters in nine innings prompting catcher Ray Schalk to confront the pitcher in the locker room after the game. Schalk complained that the starting pitchers were crossing him up.

Game 3 – The first home game of the Series saw 29,126 in attendance. Down by two games, the White Sox were able to take game three by a 3 – 0 score.

Game 4 – Ed Cicotte started game four in front of a crowd of 34,363 in Chicago. After two major fielding errors by the starting pitcher, the Sox lost to the Red 2 – 0 and Cicotte experienced his second loss of the Series.

Game 5 – After a rain postponement, game five drew the largest attendance of the Series with 34,379. Scoreless after five innings, the Reds put four runs on the board in the sixth inning and took the game by a 5 – 0 score. Cincinnati was now up 4 games to 1 over Chicago.

Game 6 – With the Reds up by a commanding lead and the Series returning to Cincinnati, 32, 006 fans came out to cheer on the home team. This could be the game where the Reds would take the Series. After four innings, Cincinnati was up 4 – 0 but Chicago quickly answered and had tied the game after nine innings. In the 10th inning, Buck Weaver crossed the plate to make in 5 – 4 for the Sox. The Reds were now up 4 – 2 in the Series.

Game 7 – Again in Cincinnati, the White Sox defeated the Reds 4 – 1 in front of only 13,924 fans. As the Series headed back to Chicago for game eight, the Reds were still up in the Series but the White Sox had cut the lead to only one game.

Game 8 – October 9, 1919 was the final game of the Series as the Reds defeated the White Sox 10 – 5. In front of a crowd of 32,930 Cincinnati won their first World Series Championship. For winning in 1919, each Reds player received $5,207 while $3,254 was awarded to each White Sox player.

On September 27, 1920 the 1919 World Series scandal was exposed. The following day, White Sox pitcher Ed Cicotte admitted his involvement to attorneys representing Charles Comiskey. One hour later, Joe Jackson stepped forward, followed by Lefty Williams. At the end of the day on September 28, 1920, Charles Risberg, Fred McMullin, Joe Jackson, Oscar Felsch, George Weaver, C.P. Williams and E.V. Cicotte were notified of their suspension from Charles Comiskey.

Within six weeks, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was named baseball’s first commissioner. On March 12, 1921 Judge Landis placed the eight players accused, on the ‘ineligible list’ and he commented that there was no guarantee that the players would be reinstated even if they were acquitted. The trial ended on August 2, 1921 with an acquittal for all involved. The following day, Judge Landis released the following statement:

“Regardless of the verdicts of juries, no player who entertains proposals or promises to throw a game, no player who sits in conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are discussed and does not promptly tell the club about it will ever play professional baseball.”

It is important to note, the rule forcing players to disclose gambling information was Landis’ and did not exist in 1919. Regardless, no ‘Black Sox’ player ever played professional baseball again.