The story of the darkest stain on America's National pastime has been told and retold, covered up and uncovered time and again.
Though the facts of the 1919 Black Sox scandal have been disputed in courtrooms and player testimonies have been painstakingly parsed through, one of baseball's greatest mysteries remains relatively unsolved.
On Oct. 9, 1919, the Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago White Sox in the final game of the World Series, and fans were left scratching their heads.
It was a matchup of David and Goliath proportions — the White Sox were one of the greatest baseball teams ever assembled. And yet the lowly Reds had beaten them.
The aftermath of the upset exposed the widespread corruption that had infiltrated a sport that could previously do no wrong. Money was suddenly at the core of the game.
Eight players were accused of throwing the World Series. They were eventually tried in court and acquitted, but were slapped with a lifetime ban from baseball nevertheless.
Those are the things we know for sure. But there is so much about baseball's greatest humiliation that is often overlooked.
Here are some lesser-known facts about the 1919 Black Sox scandal's main players and the World Series that changed the sport.
At the heart of the players' original decisions to throw the series was their discontent with White Sox owner Charlie Comiskey.
He was a notoriously stingy man who never paid his players what they were due.
Shoeless Joe Jackson, a lifetime .356 hitter, was being paid $6,000 per season. Power hitter Chick Gandil and center fielder Happy Felsch were pulling in $4,000 and shortstop Swede Risberg was making less than $3,000.
By comparison, an outfielder for the Reds who was batting 50 points below Jackson was making $10,000.
But salary was not the only issue.
Comiskey often made promises he couldn't keep. It was rumored that he offered pitcher Eddie Cicotte a $10,000 bonus for a 30-win season, but when Cicotte reached 29 wins, the owner had him benched.
Players received $3 a day for meals, while Comiskey laid out lavish spreads for the newspaper men in a separate room at the ballpark.
Chick Gandil at the center
A hulking first baseman known for his quick hands, Gandil put the pawns in motion when he met with Joseph (Sport) Sullivan to discuss the possibility of throwing the championship.
Gandil was no stranger to shady dealings, as it turns out.
Growing up, he did some heavyweight fighting for $150 a fight, and he and Sullivan were known to pal around in bars playing pool.
In some of those meetings, Sullivan would ask Gandil to tip him off as to who was starting the next game so that he could place a more educated bet.
It was Gandil who spoke to the teammates he felt were the most likely to be interested in the proposition — Eddie Cicotte, Swede Risberg, Happy Felsch and Buck Weaver were among his first targets.
The group met with Sullivan and the notorious gambler Arnold Rothstein in the Warner Hotel and asked for $80,000 upfront. Rothstein, ever the low-baller, guaranteed $10,000.
What happened to the money?
Rothstein paid the $10,000 advance in ten $1,000 bills, according to a retrospective first-person account by Gandil in 1956.
It was a hefty sum and the players were afraid of keeping it on them, so they handed the money over to Cicotte, who kept the bills underneath his pillow.
But the money hasn't turned up since.
Gandil swore that he never got any part of Rothstein's $10,000.
"I give you my solemn word I don't know to this day what happened to the cash," Gandil wrote in the 1956 account.
Fred McMullin's participation
For the most part, the eight players involved in this scandal were household names in baseball — all except one.
Fred McMullin was a utility infielder who had played only 60 games in the 1919 season. He wasn't a starter, and the effect that he could have on the fixed games was markedly minimal.
Still, the hapless infielder got thrown in the mix by happenstance.
In the book "Eight Men Out," Eliot Asinof explains that when Chick Gandil approached Swede Risberg to tell him about the opportunity to fix the series, McMullin was lying on a bench in the locker room out of sight.
He overheard everything they said, and Gandil had no choice but to let him in on the pot.
There were very specific rules put in place by Rothstein in order to make the fix seem realistic.
With Cicotte on the mound in the first game, the White Sox were supposed to win, and then could go on to lose the series however they saw fit.
But on the night before the opening game, rumors began to fly. Gandil reported receiving a phone call from a reporter asking if the series was fixed (that same reporter was later murdered by gangsters).
More threatening phone calls came in to the rest of the players, and nerves started to set in.
The group of eight reportedly came together that night and decided they wouldn't throw the series. They wanted to win.
Then came a performance from Cicotte that hadn't been seen before. He was roughed up for six runs by the fourth inning, and the Reds slugged their way to a 9-1 win.
According to Gandil, the team was truly trying to win that first game, but the Reds had been the better team.
With the uncharacteristic loss by Cicotte, the rumors of a fix only got worse — and yet the White Sox had not even done what the gamblers had requested.
A mysterious disappearance
It wasn't until 1920 that whispered suspicions of a fix became newspaper headlines.
Cicotte had squealed to Comiskey, who forced him to confess under immunity before a private grand jury. Three other players, including Shoeless Joe, followed with confessions of their own.
What they said in front of the jury, though, may never be known.
The papers recounting their confessions were lost and to this day they have not been found, despite numerous attempts to search the Illinois State Attorney's Office.
In the 1921 trial of the eight players, those who confessed retracted everything they were reported to have said.
The death of Arnold Rothstein
Seven years after the Black Sox trial, Rothstein staggered out of the Park Sheraton Hotel with a bullet in his stomach.
Police found him struggling to stop the bleeding from the wound, but he was floating in and out of consciousness on his way to the hospital.
He refused to tell the police who shot him, vowing that he would enact his own revenge.
Rothstein died at the hospital, and George McManus was arrested for the murder.
McManus had invited Rothstein to a game of poker in the hotel that day, and although witnesses saw him there and a coat with his name on it was found in the room, McManus was acquitted.
As legend has it, he left the court room carrying that very same coat.
The murder case has not been solved, and it is unclear whether Rothstein's death had anything to do with the Black Sox scandal.
Say it ain't so, Joe
The candid imploring of an innocent boy may have been legend rather than fact.
After Shoeless Joe made his confession, it was reported in the "Chicago Herald" that a boy outside the courtroom went up to him and said, "It ain't so, Joe, is it?"
Jackson's reply was reportedly, "Yes, kid, I'm afraid it is."
Embellishment led to a more poetic version of the boy's statement — which in itself captured the agony of one of baseball's best crumbling in the wake of corruption — but Jackson later denied that it ever happened.
"The only one who spoke was a guy who yelled at his friend, 'I told you he wore shoes,'" Jackson said when asked to confirm the story.
The truth was far from the earnest account of an innocent boy watching the defamation of his hero.
Black Sox Scandal, American baseball scandal centring on the charge that eight members of the Chicago White Sox had been bribed to lose the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.What was the 1919 Black Sox baseball scandal? ›
Black Sox Scandal, American baseball scandal centring on the charge that eight members of the Chicago White Sox had been bribed to lose the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.What is the origin of the phrase say it aint so joe? ›
"Say it ain't so, Joe." is a phrase attributed to a reporter speaking to Shoeless Joe Jackson about Jackson's admission that he cheated in the 1919 World Series.Did a kid really say say it ain't so Joe? ›
A child in the movie utters the famous quote, "Say it ain't so, Joe!" In real life, a Chicago reporter was standing close by when a boy said something to the effect of "Say it didn't really happen, Joe." The reporter took creative license, and created the "Say it ain't so, Joe!" quote, to give the story more emotional ...What famous quote is tied to the Black Sox Scandal? ›
“After the grand jury returned its indictments, Charley Owens of the Chicago Daily News wrote a regretful tribute headlined, “Say it ain't so, Joe.” The phrase became legend when another reporter later erroneously attributed it to a child outside the courthouse.”Why is the Black Sox Scandal important to history? ›
This betting conspiracy between a group of players and gamblers led to the permanent banning of eight players from the White Sox from baseball, to the introduction of the post of commissioner, and to strict rules prohibiting gambling that live on to this day.Why is it called the Black Sox Scandal? ›
The story goes that the White Sox were called Black Sox because of this game-fixing scandal. But they were dubbed Black Sox even before it. In an attempt to squeeze some more money out of his players, Charles Comiskey charged them money for laundering their uniforms. Of course, the White Sox players did not agree.Why do people in Chicago say Joe? ›
"We use 'joe' for the replacement of man, friend, homie, whatever it is," he said. "Our slang in Chicago is so deeply rooted that we feel like everybody understands the language," he added.What did the kid say to Shoeless Joe Jackson? ›
According to legend, as Jackson left the courthouse, a heartbroken young boy went up to him and begged: “Say it ain't so, Joe.”What does Little Joe mean slang? ›
noun. : a throw of four in the game of craps.
Asinof's use of fictional characters within a supposedly non-fiction account added further questions about the historical accuracy of the book. Jackson remains on MLB's ineligible list, which automatically precludes his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.Why was he called Shoeless Joe? ›
Baseball legend Joseph Jefferson Jackson (1887-1951) got his start in the textile league with the Greenville Spinners. It was here he got his nickname “Shoeless Joe,” for running the bases in his stocking feet after a new pair of spikes rubbed blisters on his feet.What did Shoeless Joe Jackson do after baseball? ›
Thought cleared after a court trial, Jackson and his fellow Black Sox were still tossed out of the game. Jackson played barnstorming games for about a decade, and later ran a successful dry cleaning business, The Savannah Valet Service. Shoeless Joe died on Dec. 5, 1951 in Greenville, South Carolina, at the age of 64.Who was the mastermind behind Black Sox Scandal of 1919? ›
The Black Sox Scandal was a Major League Baseball game-fixing scandal in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein.Who was banned from the Black Sox? ›
The decision was especially harsh toward Buck Weaver, who was banned even though he supposedly dropped out of the plot before it started. Joe Jackson, meanwhile, had admitted to accepting money from the Black Sox, but later claimed that he was an unwilling participant and had tried to tip Comiskey to the scheme.Who was banned in the Black Sox Scandal? ›
The seven Chicago players who were acquitted and banned are Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Buck Weaver, Swede Risberg, Chick Gandil, Happy Felsch and Lefty Williams.Were the Black Sox found not guilty? ›
After the Black Sox players and gamblers were acquitted by the jury on August 2, 1921, in a verdict that surprised many observers, Landis showed he would rule the game with an iron fist by immediately banning the players from ever appearing in the major leagues again.How good was Shoeless Joe Jackson? ›
356 lifetime average (3rd all-time among players with 3,000 career plate appearances) without a single batting title. He had a . 423 OBP, good for 16th all-time. He slugged a very respectable .How good were the 1919 White Sox? ›
The 1919 Chicago White Sox season was their 19th season in the American League. They won 88 games to advance to the World Series but lost to the Cincinnati Reds. More significantly, some of the players were found to have taken money from gamblers in return for throwing the series.What was the conclusion about the Black Sox scandal? ›
The “fix” was in, they lost the Series, the gamblers cleaned up, and the eight Black Sox got their money, although not as much as promised. A year later, under increasing scrutiny, some decided to come clean, confessed, were acquitted in court, but were banned for life by Judge Landis.
The White Sox, who were heavily favored at the start of the World Series, had been seriously underpaid and mistreated by owner Charles Comiskey. The conspiracy to fix the games was most likely initiated by first baseman Chick Gindil and small-time gambler Joseph Sullivan.Who fixed the 1919 World Series in The Great Gatsby? ›
In the novel The Great Gatsby, Meyer Wolfsheim is a Jewish friend and mentor of Jay Gatsby, described as a gambler who fixed the World Series.What is the slang word for girl in Chicago? ›
Breezy: A female or girlfriend.What do locals call Chicago? ›
Call it the Windy City, Chi-town, or the City of Big Shoulders—but one nickname has seen an especially interesting evolution over the years: the Second City.What do Chicago people call themselves? ›
a native or inhabitant of Chicago, Ill.Did Shoeless Joe Jackson confess? ›
Though Jackson signed a confession in 1920 stating that he was paid $5,000 (out of the $20,000 he was promised), he later asserted that a team lawyer manipulated him into signing a document he didn't fully understand. (Jackson never learned to read or write.)What did Shoeless Joe Jackson do for a living? ›
Shoeless Joe Jackson, byname of Joseph Jefferson Jackson, (born July 16, 1888, Greenville, South Carolina, U.S.—died December 5, 1951, Greenville), American professional baseball player, by many accounts one of the greatest, who was ultimately banned from the game because of his involvement in the 1919 Black Sox ...What does floppy joe mean? ›
noun. informal a long baggy thin sweater.What does Lil Gimp mean? ›
While once used as a slang term, the Dictionary has now included it to mean "a sexual fetishist who likes to be dominated and who dresses in a leather or rubber bodysuit with mask, zips, and chains." Bob's particular gimp appears to enjoy being suspended by giant hooks running through his skin . . . and Bob weirdly ...Why is 11 called yo? ›
Eleven is called out as "yo" or "yo-leven" to prevent being misheard as "seven". An older term for eleven is "six five, no jive" because it is a winning roll. During the comeout, eleven is typically followed by "front line winner".
The White Sox, who were heavily favored at the start of the World Series, had been seriously underpaid and mistreated by owner Charles Comiskey. The conspiracy to fix the games was most likely initiated by first baseman Chick Gindil and small-time gambler Joseph Sullivan.What was the most famous scandal in baseball history? ›
The 1919 World Series resulted in the most famous scandal in baseball history, often referred to as the Black Sox Scandal. Eight players from the Chicago White Sox (nicknamed the Black Sox) were accused of throwing the series against the Cincinnati Reds.Who was banned after the Black Sox Scandal? ›
The eight players are Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, Buck Weaver, Claude "Lefty" Williams, "Happy" Felsch and Fred McMullen. They will be acquitted by a jury in August, but Landis will ban the Black Sox for life.Why was the 1919 World Series so important? ›
The events of the series are often associated with the Black Sox Scandal, when several members of the Chicago franchise conspired with gamblers, allegedly led by Arnold Rothstein, to throw the World Series games. The 1919 World Series was the last World Series to take place without a Commissioner of Baseball in place.Who was the betrayed manager of the 1919 Black Sox? ›
Gleason is best known as the betrayed manager of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, the team made infamous by the Black Sox scandal, in which Gleason's players conspired to intentionally lose the World Series.Who was the favorite to win the 1919 World Series? ›
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.Who were the 8 players in the Black Sox scandal? ›
White Sox owner Charles Comiskey immediately suspends Chick Gandil, Buck Weaver, Happy Felsch, Swede Risberg, Fred McMullin, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, who are notorious for their involvement in the "Black Sox Scandal."What MLB team has been caught cheating the most? ›
The sanctions against the Astros were the most severe that MLB has ever issued against a member club, and are among the most severe sanctions for in-game misconduct in baseball history.What was the most violent baseball game? ›
Atlanta Braves, 1984. On Aug. 12, 1984, the longest, nastiest and most epic MLB brawl took place between the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves. The tension began in the first when Braves starter Pascual Perez hit San Diego second baseman Alan Wiggins in the lower back.What was the biggest disgrace in baseball? ›
The Black Sox Scandal was a Major League Baseball game-fixing scandal in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein.
356 lifetime average (3rd all-time among players with 3,000 career plate appearances) without a single batting title. He had a . 423 OBP, good for 16th all-time. He slugged a very respectable .How did the Black Sox scandal end? ›
Players involved—dubbed "Black Sox"—were acquitted in court, but banned by the league from continuing to play. Accounts differ, but the scheme to throw the game for money may have first materialized a few weeks before that year's World Series, when White Sox first baseman C.Who was the suspected gangster that fixed the 1919 World Series? ›
Arnold Rothstein (January 17, 1882 – November 6, 1928), nicknamed "The Brain", was an American racketeer, crime boss, businessman, and gambler in New York City. Rothstein was widely reputed to have organized corruption in professional athletics, including conspiring to fix the 1919 World Series.How much did baseball players get paid 1919? ›
In 1919, a baseball player made $2,400 on average. The highest-paid player was Babe Ruth, who made $5,000. In 1919, the Chicago White Socks were one of the highest-paid baseball teams, earning nearly $20 million.