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The Black Sox Scandal of 1919

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The Most Notorious Scandal in the History of American Sports. The Black Sox Scandal of 1919. The Year Was 1919. The First World War has just ended. Woodrow Wilson is President of the United States. The prohibition amendment to the constitution has been ratified. The Year Was 1919.

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the year was 1919
The Year Was 1919
  • The First World War has just ended.
  • Woodrow Wilson is President of the United States.
  • The prohibition amendment to the constitution has been ratified.
the year was 19191
The Year Was 1919
  • The Ford Model T was the best selling car in America.
  • A loaf of bread was a nickel.
  • The average income for an American worker was $750 per year.
the year was 19192
The Year Was 1919
  • Baseball was the American pastime – the most popular sport in America.
  • The Major Leagues were formed.
  • New stadiums were built and attendance at games set records.
  • The best players were paid $10,000 per year.
  • The average pay was $3,000.
the year was 19193
The Year Was 1919

For a half dollar you could purchase two bleacher seats or one reserved seat at a Major League Baseball game.

the fix was in
The “fix” Was In!

Several members (as many as 8) of the 1919 Chicago White Sox agreed to lose the World Series in exchange for money.

why did it happen
Why Did It Happen?
  • The White Sox were considered to be the best team in baseball, but they considered themselves underpaid.
  • Their salaries were only equal to those of the worst players in baseball.
  • The owner of their team, Charles Comiskey, was generally disliked by his players.
why did it happen1
Why did it happen?
  • Comiskey had promised a bonus of $10,000 to star pitcher Eddie Cicotte if he won 30 games.
  • After winning his 29th game he was “rested” for the remainder of the regular season which denied him the bonus.

Eddie Cicotte

why did it happen2
Why did it happen?
  • The team was divided by their social behavior, character and attitudes.
  • There were two factions on the team; one group that partied together and a group of more straight-laced players.
  • The two factions rarely spoke to each other on or off the field.

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson

how did it happen
How did it happen?
  • Comiskey was such a penny-pincher, he required that his players wash their own uniforms.
  • When they failed to do so, Comiskey had it done for them and deducted the cost from their pay.
how did it happen1
How did it happen?
  • Arnold Rothstein was a New York gambler who supplied the money used to bribe the players and place the bets.
  • He worked through his lieutenant Abe Attell, a former featherweight boxing champion.

Arnold Rothstein

who were the players
Who were the players?

The White Sox Team of 1919 – The Best Team in Baseball

charles chick gandil
Charles "Chick" Gandil
  • The idea originated with Gandil and he was the ringleader in fixing the World Series.
  • He was a big player for that time at 6'2" and 195 pounds.
  • He was known for his toughness, and violent behavior.
  • He served a five-game suspension for punching out the home plate umpire over a disputed strike call.

First Baseman

charles swede risberg
Charles "Swede" Risberg
  • Risberg served as Gandil’s assistant and helped communicate with the other players and the gamblers.
  • He received $15,000 for his role in the fix, which was over four times his regular season salary.


eddie cicotte
Eddie Cicotte
  • An excellent pitcher for the White Sox with 29 wins during the 1919 season.
  • His participation was essential to the successful fixing of the 1919 World Series.
  • He received $10,000 for his cooperation, he was the only player to receive payment in full before the series started.
  • He signed a confession and his guilt is undisputed.


oscar happy felsch
Oscar "Happy" Felsch
  • He led the American League in outfield putouts and assists in 1919.
  • He reluctantly agreed to go along with the fix.
  • He received $5,000 for his participation.
  • There is little doubt of Felsch's guilt, he not only hit poorly, but also misplayed fly balls in key situations.

Center Fielder

fred mcmullin
Fred McMullin
  • McMullin would not have been included in the fix had he not overheard the other players' conversations.
  • He threatened to tell all if not included.
  • He had almost no playing time during the World Series and had no impact on the outcome.


claude lefty williams
Claude "Lefty" Williams
  • His guilt in the scandal is undisputed.
  • He went 0–3 with a 6.63 ERA for the series.
  • His is one of only two pitchers in the entire history of baseball to ever lose three games in one World Series. (The other is reliever George Frazier of the 1981 New York Yankees.)


george buck weaver
George "Buck" Weaver
  • Weaver attended a meeting with the other players where fixing the series was discussed.
  • Weaver refused to participate in fixing the series.
  • Everyone would later agree that he played to win during the world series.
  • He was banned from baseball with the others because he knew and didn’t tell.

Third Baseman

shoeless joe jackson
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson
  • Jackson was a star outfielder and one of the best hitters in the baseball.
  • He confessed in sworn grand jury testimony to having accepted $5,000 cash from the gamblers.
  • He later recanted his confession and protested his innocence to no effect until his death.



"Shoeless" Joe Jackson

  • Jackson is the most famous and controversial of the Black Sox.
  • Joe was illiterate. He could not read or write.
  • His wife read all of his baseball contracts and wrote his letters for him.
  • His wife eventually taught him how to sign his name.

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson

  • It is very likely that he did not realize the ramifications of testifying that he helped throw the Series.
  • Joe claimed his innocence and had a batting average of .375 in the series and made no errors in the field.
the movie field of dreams
The Movie: Field of Dreams

In the movie Field of Dreams, the character played by Kevin Costner builds a baseball field so that the Black Sox (now long dead) could again play baseball.

“Build it and he will come.”

the movie field of dreams1
The Movie: Field of Dreams

The Black Sox walk out of the cornfield to baseball field.

the movie eight men out
The Movie: Eight Men Out

A dramatization of the Black Sox scandal when the underpaid Chicago White Sox accepted bribes to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series.

the movie eight men out1
The Movie: Eight Men Out

Cast of the movie: Eight Men Out

the movie eight men out2
The Movie: Eight Men Out

Charlie Sheen played Oscar “Happy” Felsch.

the movie eight men out3
The Movie: Eight Men Out

John Cusack played George "Buck" Weaver.

the movie eight men out4
The Movie: Eight Men Out

David Strathairnplayed Eddie Cicotte.

the movie eight men out5
The Movie: Eight Men Out
  • Don Harvey on the left, played Charles “Swede” Risberg.
  • Actor Michael Rooker, on the right, played Arnold “Chick” Gandil.
the movie eight men out6
The Movie: Eight Men Out

On the left is Christopher Lloyd who played “Sleepy” Bill Burns and on the right is Richard Edson who played Billy Maharg. These two approached Arnold Rothstein for financing to fix the World Series but were double crossed by Rothstein.

after watching the movie
After Watching the Movie

Do you feel that the players were treated unfairly by the owner of the team? Explain your answer.

Was baseball Commissioner Landis correct to ban ALL the players from baseball for life? Explain your answer.

What has happened since 1919 to prevent this type of scandal from happening again?

Do you believe something like the 1919 Black Sox Scandal could happen again?

after watching the movie1
After Watching the Movie
  • In 1919 the average salary paid to a baseball player was $3,000. This was about 4 times the average earnings of an American worker ($750).
  • Today, the average MLB baseball player is paid $3.5 million annually. This is about 100 times more than the average American earns in a year ($35,000).
  • How does this change in pay impact the likelihood that players will try to fix a game?
after watching the movie2
After Watching the Movie
  • In 1989 Pete Rose was banned from baseball for gambling on baseball games while he was a player and a manger for the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Rose is the all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053).
after watching the movie3
After Watching the Movie
  • Tim Donaghy is a former NBA referee who conspired with gamblers to bet on games that he officiated.
  • He received about $30,000.
  • He plead guilty in 2009 to conspiracy and wire fraud.
  • He served 15 months in federal prison.
after watching the movie4
After Watching the Movie

Part 1;storyMediaBox

Part 2

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End of Unit 5

The Black Sox of 1919

End of Unit