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Black Sox Scandal

BLACK SOX SCANDAL

BLACK SOX SCANDAL. The Black Sox scandal began with the World Series of October 1919, when eight members of the Chicago White Sox baseball team allegedly conspired to lose to the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds won five games to three at a time when the series could go to nine games. The scandal did not become public until almost a year later, however. In August 1921, a jury found the accused conspirators innocent. Nonetheless, the day after their acquittal the newly appointed commissioner of major league baseball, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, banned them from professional baseball for the rest of their lives.

Gambling had been a presence in baseball long before the Black Sox scandal, and the major league team owners had done little to limit its influence. Rumors of a fix circulated before, during, and after the 1919 series, but the White Sox owner, Charles Comiskey, chose not to investigate them. Prompted by concerns of several journalists and baseball executives, a grand jury investigated allegations over a fixed 1920 season game, which eventually led to investigation of the 1919 series and the indictment of the eight players. None of the gamblers, such as the notorious Arnold Rothstein, who organized the fix, were charged with a crime, however, partly because documents were stolen and bribes paid.

Five of the players—infielders Arnold "Chick" Gandil and Charles "Swede" Risberg, outfielder Oscar "Happy" Felsch, and pitchers Ed Cicotte and Claude "Lefty" Williams—were guilty of throwing the five games. Fred McMullin only batted twice in the series, and infielder Buck Weaver's only crime was remaining silent about the fix. The part played by the great hitter "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, who was illiterate, has been debated ever since.

Baseball survived the Black Sox scandal mostly because gambling's influence declined and Babe Ruth, beginning his Yankee career in 1920, transformed the game.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Asinof, Eliot. Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1963.

Seymour, Harold. Baseball: The Golden Age. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971.

White, G. Edward. Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903–1953. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996.

JohnSyrett

See alsoBaseball ; Gambling ; andpicture (facing page).


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Black Sox scandal

Black Sox scandal, episode in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox, the American League champions, were banned from baseball in 1921 for having conspired with gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The best-known of the "Black Sox" was Shoeless Joe Jackson. Because of the scandal, baseball club owners appointed Judge Kenesaw M. Landis as commissioner of baseball to clean up the sport. The immense, rising popularity of Babe Ruth is thought to have counteracted the damage done to professional baseball by the Black Sox.

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