Black Sox Trial Indictment

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Black Sox Trial Indictment

Indictment & Bill of Particulars in People of Illinois v Cicotte

Legal decision

By: Robert E. Crowe

Date: July 5, 1921

Source: "Indictment & Bill of Particulars in People of Illinois v Cicotte." 〈〉 (accessed March 12, 2006).

About the Author: Robert E. Crowe was the State's Attorney for Cook County, Illinois in 1921.


In December 1856, the New York Mercury first referred to baseball as America's "national pastime." By 1869, the first professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, began to play. Two years later, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players emerged and baseball's infancy as an amateur sport ended. By 1876, the conflict between labor and capital took the form of players versus the owners as the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs began to regulate the game. Ty Cobb's stellar career propelled the game through the next decade. However, by 1919, the legacy of the game became mired in a scandal known as the 1919 World Series.

During the 1919 season, the Chicago White Sox performed extremely well and earned a position in the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. However, many of the players on the White Sox were unhappy with the team's owner, Charles Comisky. One of the players, right-handed pitcher Eddie Cicotte, bore a special grudge against Comisky after the owner promised a bonus of $10,000 for winning thirty games. Comisky then benched Cicotte after his 29th win. In addition, Comisky was known for not paying for the team's uniforms to be laundered. The ill-will felt between the ownership and the players of the 1919 White Sox proved fertile ground for a plot to fix the World Series.

Chicago White Sox First Baseman Chick Gandil served as the ringleader for the conspiracy. Gandil assembled seven other players before the Series began and solicited their participation in a plot financed by Arnold Rothstein, a notorious New York gambler. Those seven players included pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, third baseman Buck Weaver, shortstop Swede Risberg, utility infielder Fred McMullin, and outfielders Oscar "Happy" Felsch and Shoeless Joe Jackson. Gandil promised the group $20,000 for each game lost.

The White Sox had been three-to-one favorites to win the series before the odds changed in favor of the Cincinnati Reds at eight to one. The first game, pitched by Eddie Cicotte, was lost to Cincinnati 9-1. However, the players did not receive payment for their loss. They continued with the agreement and lost the second game, pitched by Lefty Williams, 4-2. Dickie Kerr, who did not participate in the fix, pitched the third game, which was won by Chicago 3-0. The Sox then lost the fourth game by 2-0 and the fifth game by 5-0. However, the money agreed to from the gamblers did not materialize. As a result, the players abandoned their plot in an effort to win the series and be awarded a bonus by Comisky. However, the series ended in the eighth game with a loss for Chicago.

By 1920, allegations of the fix led to a grand jury investigation of the events. According to reports, Eddie Cicotte and Joe Jackson were the first to admit involvement in the tampering. However, the initial testimonies that led to indictments disappeared before the trial and the men were acquitted due to a lack of evidence. Prior to the indictments, Comisky suspended the eight players indefinitely. The men would never play professional baseball again.









Bill of Particulars as to Count 1, Count 2, and Count 3, of Indictment No. 23912, filed in conformity to rule entered July 5th, 1921, by his Honor Judge Hugo Friend, one of the Judges of the Criminal Court of Cook County.

The defendants in the above entitled cause, and each of them, are hereby notified that the State will offer evidence tending to show that the defendants, Edward Vs Cicotte, Claude Williams, Joe Jackson,, Fred McMullin, Arnold Gandil, George Weaver, Oscar Felsch and Charles Risberg in September and October of 1919 were engaged as base ball players and were members of a base ball club known as the American League Base Ball Club of Chicago, a corporation;

That said American League Base Ball Club of Chicago was engaged to play in competition with a certain other base ball club known as the National League Base Ball Club of Cincinnati, Ohio, a certain series of games of base ball; some of the games of said series to be played In Chicago and other games of said series to be played in Cincinnati, Ohio;

That the defendants, William Burns and Hal Chase were at various times connected with base ball as professional base ball players but were not participants in any of the games of the above mentioned series;

That the defendants, Joseph J. Sullivan, Rachael Brown Abe Attel, Carl Zork, Ben Franklin, Ben Levi, Louis Levi, and David Zelzer were not connected with base ball as players, but were reputed to be gamblers or prize fighters and interested in the promotion of gambling enterprises and sporting events of questionable character;

That considerable public interest was manifested in the outcome of said series of games and each game of said series;

That each of said games was publicly regarded as an important sporting event and that the spectators of said games and each of them was required to pay an admission fee to the field where said games were played;

That the defendants participating in said games as players conspired confederated and agreed together with the defendants not participating therein to so conduct themselves throughout the said games and each of said games and so manipulate their playing in each of said games as to make certain in advance of the playing of said games the outcome thereof and the winner thereof, and so as to make certain in advance of the playing of all of the games of said series the outcome of the majority of the games of said series and the winner of the majority of said series of games;

And the defendants not participating in said games as base ball players, conspired, confederated and agreed together and with the defendants participating in said games to operate among the spectators of said games and others and the general public to procure divers large sums of money by means of and by use of the confidence game.

That one Charles C. Nims a resident Of Chicago, Illinois, was unlawfully, fraudulently and feloniously swindled out of the sum of $250.00 by the defendant, Joseph J. Sullivan, who was then and there engaged in carrying out the conspiracy aforesaid and who did then and there obtain from the said Charles C. Rime the sum of $250.00 by means and by use of the confidence game contrary to the Statute In such cases made and provided, And for further particulars, the defendants are respectfully referred to the first, second, and third counts of said indictment.


F. Scott Fitzgerald described Arnold Rothstein as the man who "tampered with the faith of fifty million people." In an effort to redeem baseball's tarnished image, the owners acted to mitigate the impact the scandal had on the disillusioned public. The owners replaced the three-man National Commission with an independent commissioner. The owners picked federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to serve as the first commissioner. Prior to this appointment, Landis had been best known for handing down a $29 million fine to Standard Oil in a 1907 anti-trust case. Landis stated, "Baseball is something more than a game to an American boy. It is his training field for life work. Destroy his faith in its squareness and honesty and you have destroyed something more; you have planted suspicion of all things in his heart." Immediately following the 1921 acquittal of the eight players, Landis placed the men on baseball's ineligible list—barring them from baseball for life.

Although the most notorious sports-related crime, the 1919 World Series is not the only scene of notoriety within sports. In recent years, the use of drugs for recreation or for enhanced development has been on the rise in society as well as the sports community. In 1985, Keith Hernandez and Dave Parker testified to widespread cocaine usage within baseball. Before a congressional committee in 2005, Rafael Palmeiro denied the use of steroids. However, he was suspended months later after a failing a drug test. Whether drug usage or game fixing, issues such as these put a blight on the sporting community. Dave Kindred of the Sporting News asserts that these activities are "a breach of the contract with fans who pony up good money to see games contested on a level playing field."



Kindred, Dave. "A Shot in the Arm Baseball Didn't Need." Sporting News (November 24, 2003).

Skretta, David. "Baseball Has a Long History of Notoriety." USA Today (August 2, 2005).

Ward, Geoffrey C., and Ken Burns. "Game Time." US News and World Report (August 29, 1994).

Web sites

Chicago Historical Society. "History Files: Chicago Black Sox." 〈〉 (accessed March 12, 2006).