Does anyone remember those bunch of cheaters?
So much has been made of commemorating anniversaries this year, like the 75th of D-Day and the 50th of the Apollo moon landing. There is one anniversary of an event that still intrigues me today.
The 1919 Black Sox scandal.
While I am sure no one actually remembers the 1919 Chicago White Sox, baseball enthusiasts like myself have been able to learn about the “Black Sox” from countless books and movies.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of White Sox players conspiring with gamblers to throw the World Series to the underdog Cincinnati Reds, or Red Legs as they were called back then.
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson is probably the most famous of the eight ballplayers who were banned by the league’s first commissioner, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis. After all, the great Babe Ruth modeled his swing after the outlaw baseball player.
Names like pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Claude “Lefty” Williams, shortstop Charles “Swede” Risberg and outfielder Oscar “Happy” Felsch were brought into the scheme organized by first baseman C. Arnold “Chick” Gandil.
As they say, gambling isn’t a sure bet and the $100,000 that was promised to the players wasn’t fully delivered, which outraged the players who tried to storm back to win the series.
But, alas, the deficit was too large.
There have been several books written on the subject, including “Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series.”
The book was also made into a movie of the same name, starring John Cusak, Michael Rooker, Charlie Sheen and D.B. Sweeney.
If you want to learn some baseball history, or brush up on the subject, I am sure there will be a rainy day in our future that will present you the opportunity.
Joe Jackson was nicknamed
“Shoeless” because when he first starting playing baseball he didn’t have shoes. That is how poor his family was growing up in the South at the turn of the century.
There are many who believe Jackson didn’t willingly throw the series, despite accepting $5,000, because of his .375 batting average and hitting the series only home run while playing in what was known as “The Dead Ball Era.”
I have often said over the years Shoeless Joe belongs in Cooperstown. The man had a career .356 batting average and slugged 54 homers while driving in 792 runs. He also stole 202 bases.
He hit .408 in 147 games in Cleveland in 1911. In his final year before the ban, he hit .382 with 42 homers, 20 doubles and 121 RBIs. He accomplished all that in 13 years with the Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Indians and the White Sox.
But, that lifetime ban keeps him out.
(Brent Addleman is the assistant editor at the New Castle News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)