By: Noah Wright
The White Sox, currently in a rebuild and have one of the youngest and most experienced teams. Players like Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez, and Yoan Moncada in their system bring excitement to fans of the team and of the sport. But let’s look at roughly a century ago and the scandal that surrounded one of the most electric teams of the season.
The year was 1919 and the World Series was fast approaching and it was the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago White Sox about to duke it for the championship.
Nicknamed the ‘Big Fix’, it all started a couple weeks before the World Series itself when then White Sox first baseman C. Arnold “Chick” Gandil met Joseph “Sport” Sullivan , a gambler, in order to discuss the possibility of fixing the World Series. Although skeptical, Grandil accepted the deal which he now believed could happen and would result in him and his co-conspirators receiving a generous $100,000 dollars. Gandil enlisted the help of Pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Claude “Lefty” Williams, shortstop Charles “Swede” Risberg and outfielder Oscar “Happy” Felsch, Third baseman Buck Weaver was in on the early stages of the plot before pulling out, utility infielder Fred McMullin, and power hitter “Shoeless” Joe Jackson was also approached. Although never proven, New York mob leader Arnold Rothstein was said to have played a major and crucial role in the fixing.
It was October 1st and Game One of the best of 9 of the 1919 World Series had arrived. On the mound for the White Sox was Eddie Cicotte. And after hitting the batter with one of his first first pitches, the fixing had begun. A shaky but fixed performance by the White Sox led to a 9-1 drubbing at the hands of the Reds. Game 2 was no different. After Lefty Williams gifted the Reds a 4-2 victory, Cincinnati now led the series 2 games to 0. Fixing continued and the series was now 4-1 to the Reds.
October 6, 1919. The crooked Sox players had grown impatient when they didn't receive their payment at the rate which had been agreed upon, $20,000 after each loss. Their anger made them call of the fix once and for all and begin winning. Over the next two games, Games 6 and 7, they sprung into winning ways, winning 5-4 and 4-1. Whether it be because of intimidation and threat from the angry mob leaders and gangsters, or just the Reds putting up a fighting spirit but ultimately for reasons unknown, the Chicago White Sox lost game 8 of the World Series 10-5, giving the Cincinnati Reds their first ever World Series title
. Over the course of the next year. Investigations conducted by newspapers, businesses, and the MLB uncovered the truth. Bill Maharg , co-conspirator of Sullivan, was one of the first to go on public record and speak of his involvement in the fix. Accusations continued, rumors grew, curiosity rose, and allegations mounted. Later Eddie Cicotte, confessed in front of a grand jury. Joe Jackson, Lefty Williams, and Oscar Felsch later confessed their involvement.
In the October of 2020, Jackson, Williams, Cicotte, Felsch, Gandil, Risberg, McCullin, and Weaver were dubbed the Black Sox and were indicted on nine accounts of conspiracy. After a strange occurrence, the prosecution’s case suddenly vanished along with all player confessions. On August 2, 1921 the Black Sox were found not guilty on all accounts. Although they escaped imprisonments and fines, all 8 men were permanently banned from organized baseball. Appeals were denied, and their careers were essentially over.
The true involvement of Joe Jackson, and Buck Weaver, and mob leader Arnold Rothstein is still questioned. Buck Weaver reportedly pulled out before the fix started and was still banned. Arnold Rothstein is allegedly the person responsible for financing most of the fix and was never charged with a crime. And Jackson’s season best batting average of .375 puts the extent of his involvement into question.