Burying the Black Sox: How Baseball's Cover-Up of the 1919 World Series Fix Almost Succeeded

Burying the Black Sox: How Baseball's Cover-Up of the 1919 World Series Fix Almost Succeeded

Gene Carney

Language: English

Pages: 388

ISBN: 1597971081

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Most fans today know that gamblers and ballplayers conspired to “fix” the 1919 World Series—the Black Sox Scandal. It has been touched upon in classic works of sports history such as Eliot Asinof’s Eight Men Out, referred to in literary classics like W. P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe, and has been central to two of the best baseball movies ever made, John Sayles’s Eight Men Out and Phil Robinson’s Field of Dreams. Many, however, would be surprised to learn that it took nearly a year to uncover the fix. Burying the Black Sox is the first book to focus on the cover-up that kept the fix from the American public until almost another whole baseball season was played, and to examine in detail the way events unfolded as the deception was unraveled. Unlike Eliot Asinof in Eight Men Out, previously the definitive book on the subject, Carney thoroughly documents his information and brings together evidence from a wide variety of sources, many not available to Asinof or more recent writers. In Burying the Black Sox, Gene Carney reveals what else happened and answers the questions that fascinate any baseball fan wondering about baseball’s original dilemma over guilt and innocence. Who else in baseball knew that the fix was in? When did they know? And what did they do about it? Carney explores how Charles Comiskey, the owner of the White Sox, and his fellow owners tried to bury the incident and control the damage, how the conspiracy failed, and how “Shoeless” Joe Jackson attempted to clear his name. He uses primary research materials that weren’t available when Asinof wrote Eight Men Out, including the 1920 grand jury statements by Jackson and pitcher Eddie Cicotte, the diary of Comiskey’s secretary, and the transcripts of Jackson’s 1924 suit against the Sox for back pay. Where Asinof told the story of the eight “Black Sox,” Carney explains the baseball industry’s uncertain response to the scandal.

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Fullerton was discouraged and disillusioned by the failure of baseball to respond to the fix rumors. He felt like he wanted to quit writing baseball. He went to the managing editor, John H. Tennant, saying, “I’m sick and tired of writing about a game that has gone crooked. That Series was fixed.” Tennant then directed him to write a special series on it. Fullerton said that a Mr. Daly of the Morning World also instructed him to investigate, as the paper had a report from St. Louis about gamblers

the cover-up of the fix of 1919 was uncovered is long and complicated, it is tempting to sum it up in a few words: Toward the end of the 1920 season, a grand jury was convened in Cook County, and after three White Sox players confessed, indictments and a trial followed. That hardly does justice to the “chain of events” or “chain reaction” that blew off the lid. (John Lardner, one of Ring’s sons: it “went off in scattered pops, like a string of firecrackers” [see note 30].) In fact, there was no

leverage at all in negotiating contracts. They could accept the terms offered by their team, or find another profession; they could not go elsewhere and play. It would be decades before Curt Flood would name this system slavery, forever changing labor relations within the game. At this trial, for the first time, there would be new light shed on what Comiskey knew and when he knew it and on exactly what he did or did not do about it. The detective he hired would tell what he found. Hugh

this comment, made later to reporter Joe Williams, underscores the difficulty of knowing for sure even for eyewitnesses: You know he was such a remarkable hitter it was almost impossible for him to swing without meeting the ball solidly. I recall one game in the Series—the second, I believe—when he got a hit trying to ground out. He chopped down on the ball and it took such a high hop that the Reds’ second baseman couldn’t reach it and Jackson looking pretty apologetic about it, too, had to go

Bleak Sox,” is just an awful piece of history-writing. Here are some of the errors I spotted. You can look them up. Holtzman writes that Gropman “ignores much of the evidence that clearly demonstrates [Jackson] participated in the swindle.” How does he know this, if he has not read Gropman’s book? In fact, Gropman deals with the hard questions, such as why Jackson took the money, and offers explanations. Holtzman writes, “When the confessions were ‘lost,’ the Cook County Grand Jury dismissed

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