tv 1919 Black Sox World Series Fix CSPAN November 11, 2019 12:20pm-1:30pm EST
order -- >> for 40 years c-span has been providing america unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events from washington, d.c., and around the country. so you can make up your own mind. created by cable in 1979. c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span, your unfiltered view of government. next, historian david pietrusza discusses the 1919 world series fix which became known as the black sox scandal. he discusses how book and film portrayals of the fix shaped public perception of what happened. he's the author of two books, "rothstein: the life, times and murder of the criminal genius who fixed the 1919 world series"
and "judge and jury: the life and times of the judge kennesaw mountain landis." >> we're very fortunate tonight to have an esteemed historian and award-winning writer, who is not only an historian but he's very into baseball. so, it's a good combination because right now it's the 100th an verse of one of the most infamous scandals in baseball history. the black sox scandal where members of the chicago white sox were accused of throwing the world series to the cincinnati reds. and it brought about many changes in baseball, including getting a commissioner and getting eight players on the white sox banned from baseball for life. so -- but the story of that is not really a simple one. it's very complicated.
so, the title of tonight's talk is called "field of myths: 100 years after baseball's 1919 black sox scandal, finally separating the many myths from the reality." so this should be a fascinating talk. and i am excited to welcome david pietrusza, our speaker tonight. >> well, thank you. [ applause ] >> yeah, we're gathered here tonight on the eve of this year's world series. and the 100 years ago, well, who knew if there were going to be another world series once that scandal was exposed and whether trust in baseball was starting to evaporate very rapidly. and, as david said, that's, you know, eight men out. that's the story that we know. that was the title of a book. that was a movie. there were, you know, the legends have spawned about that.
and it wasn't -- it wasn't the start of trouble in river city, shall we say. gambling had been rife in baseball since the very beginnings of the sport. people -- you know, think of all the gambling in america. you know, the river boat gamblers and the card sharks out west and people like that. it's always been there. and so, in baseball, in troy, new york, when that was a major league team, there were gambling scandals or rumors of fixes. in louisville in 1877, four players were -- four players then were banned for life. and an umpire was thrown out, a guy named dick hyam in 1882. he's the only umpire who's ever been thrown out. there were rumors of world series fixes almost as soon as there was the modern world series, which really starts at
the turn of the 20th century. and in the year before the 1919 world series, in 1918, there's a prospective scandal brewing on the cincinnati reds. now, the white sox play the reds but there was a scandalous goings on in cincinnati with a first baseman named hal chase and his manager, christy mathewson thought he had the goods on chase. he was notorious but baseball didn't do anything about it. and that was the story up to about 1919 and 1920, where the rumors would occur, but baseball would turn a blind eye to everything so that when the black sox conspire to throw that 1919, you know, people say, well, why did they do that? why did they do that? well, it was a high payoff and
it seemed to be a low risk because your employers were not about to bounce you and really do anything about it because it was very bad publicity for the business. the wis of baseball. now, who are the eight players who are banned? let's go around the diamond. the first one is a guy named chick gandil. he's a fair good fielding first baseman, but he's sort of in the middle of the pack of the american league or major league first basemen. i never come with a slide presentation to these talks, but i really wish i had a slide to show you of chick gandil because here's a guy who looks like a complete criminal. i mean, this -- this is one bad looking dude. and fittingly enough, you know, maybe you can tell a book by its cover, but he was the basic ringleader of the whole fix. and then you had a utility
infielder who seemed to be a friend of his, a guy named fred mcmullin. in terms of play at the world series, he only gets two at-bats but he gets a hit. he wants in and he's going to be let in. at shortstop a guy named swede risberg. he's a decent fielder. not that much of a hitter. and at third base is one of the more problematic members of this octet in terms of guilt and culpability. his name is buck weaver. he's one of -- actually, one of the top third basemen in the american league. probably number two, the home run baker, who had been part of the million dollar infield with connie mack's a's. we'll talk about weaver later on. in center field, a really good
fielder, a guy named oscar "happy" felsch. he has some power. he ties for the team lead in home runs in 1919. it's the end of the dead ball era. the lively ball of babe ruth is really going to start up the next year, but it's not quite there in 1919. then you have pitchers. you need pitchers involved in throwing a world series. and the gamblers and people like gandil have as part of the conspiracy, the two best pitchers on the chicago white sox. eddie cicotte who is a trick ball pitcher, a knuckleball pitcher, shine ball pitcher he might rub something on his pants and then on that to make the thing scoot this way or that way. he's a 29-game winner that year. and then the other pitcher is, i think a 23-game winner, he's a much younger pitcher.
his name is claude "lefty" williams. he comes from quite a town in south -- southern missouri which even though it's only got about 2,000 or 3,000 people in it even to this day, the barker, the ma barker game from the bank robbers from the 1930s came from this same small town and also a guy who shot up a synagogue in overland park in kansas city. this same town. i don't know what the chamber of commerce says about that town. but it's going to be a best of nine game world series so it's different in a lot of ways. and why is that? baseball had previously had best of seven series. but 1919 follows 1918, follows world war i. world war i really disrupts baseball because they issue what
is called a work or fight order. that means if you're not involved in the war effort, either in uniform or some other way, they're going to draft you. they're going to do selective service, pull your name out of a fish bowl or something and send you over to france. so, baseball doesn't know if it's going to continue in 1919 until the armistice comes around in 1918. in 1918, the season is cut down to 142-game series -- season. recall that up until 1961 with expansion in the american league, it's 156-game series. so, there's fewer games, there's fewer attendance, there's much less revenue that year. and with that work or fight order, there's a way you can get around that. and that involves going to work in a defense plan. in a defense-related industry.
and what's one of the biggest industries, is shipyards. we have to get all those guys over to france, so we neat boats we have to put them on. so, there's a big shipyard in delaware. and shoeless joe jackson and lefty williams and a reserve catcher for the white sox, a pal of theirs named bird lynn, go over and work there. and oscar "happy" felsch works for a shipyard or defense plan in milwaukee. so, the core, a good core of the black sox of the white sox are jumping and this is the way the owner of the white sox, charles comiskey, interprets that, jumping the team to go get these jobs in the defense plants or shipyards. they're highly paid. a lot of people see these guys as slackers, as draft dodgers,
as unpatriotic because they're drawing a good salary to stay out of the war. and play baseball for these shipyards on the weekends. c comiskey doesn't even want to let them back in. comiskey is also on posed pposee nine-game world series. and comiskey is portrayed as a money-grabber. we'll deal with that more later on. he's opposed to the nine-game series. why? is he just a traditionalist? a conservative? well, maybe. but remember what i said about eddie cicotte and lefty williams, the two pitchers. they have 29 wins, and 23 games -- wins respectively, but really, you know, in the short series you can get away with a smaller rotation. but this is a longer series.
they are planning no off days because cincinnati and chicago are so close. well, really they're not that close. but they were going to have no off days so you needed a deeper pitching staff. and really the white sox that year were really stuck behind cicotte and williams. and after that, it was a guy named dickey carr, who was a rookie who won 13 games and red faber, who's a hall of famer but he's sick. he's had the flu. he's had health problems. he's had physical problems. he's only won 11 games. he's so sick, he's not even going to pitch one game in the world series. so, the white sox basically have a 2 1/2-man rotation going into the -- going into the world series. they got a problem. t cicotte and williams won 95% of
all white sox games that year. if you take out faber they won 71%. if they get these guys, if the gamblers get to these guys things look really good for a pitch. and the pitching is really the achilles -- really, it's so big it's the achilles foot of the white sox that year. the white sox are going to lose that series. they're playing to lose in eight games. two of the worst players, the most suspicious players is lefty williams. he's going to lose three games, which is not going to happen again for decades and decades in a world series. he has a 6.61 e.r.a. in that series when the american league average that year is 3.32. and risberg at shortstop, a really good fielding shortstop, makes four errors. so, he comes under suspicion.
dickey kerr, the third man on the staff, is a rookie. he's really a small guy. he's like 5'7" or so, but even with the white sox playing -- or the black sox playing behind him, he's going to win the third game and the sixth game of that world series. so really impressive performance on his part, but they are going to lose in those games. eddie cicotte is going to lose a couple of games and, bang, they're out. now, what are the myths? the myths you've seen in the movie "eight men out," which was made by director john sales. really an all-star cast. it was made in the late '80s. at about the same time in a more romanticized, kind of haphazard way, the more popular movie "field of dreams" with kevin costner where shoeless joe
jackson and the black sox are going to come back and be rehabilitated and get to play again, get to play baseball again, despite the lifetime ban against them in this cornfield in iowa. and the genesis of the story of the film "eight men out" and then again in "field of dreams" is a 1963 book by an author named elliott azenoff. the gist is why the white sox do it. this is the great myth we're dealing with here. and the myth that the -- is this -- it's charles comiskey's fault. it's that these guys were exploited working men. they were not, you know, being paid very well. they were among the lowest paid teams in the american league. even though they were, you know,
the pennant winner that year. comiskey was cheating them on bonuses. specifically on eddie cicotte. he was really so bad that he wasn't even cleaning their uniforms. they weren't even called the black sox originally because they were crooked. they were called that because comiskey wouldn't even clean their uniforms. so, he was an all-around bad guy, and the black sox just were righting a wrong. they were sticking it to the man. and, you know, getting justice, retributive justice by direct action. and the problem with this theory is that it's all wrong. i did two books, which dealt with the -- this scandal. one was my biography of kennesaw mountain landis, the commissioner who came in and fixed this mess and the other was biographer of gambler arnold
rothstein, who committed this mess by bank rolling the fix. since that rothstein book has come out, what we have this is a massive data dump, really, by major league baseball, and also just the fact that technology has changed. i was talking to some of the folks beforehand and talking about how research has changed since i started in this game. and now you can get to the microfilm, look stuff up easily. you don't have to rely on some relative's scrapbook and you can find stuff. but the real key thing to dispelling the myths of charles comiskey as the scrooge of baseball, the fellow who should bear as much blame as any of the black sox, is this. around 2002 major league baseball, i guess, was cleaning out its attic and they had -- the teams would have to send to the league offices what they were paying each guy.
if they got someone up from the minors, okay, how much are you paying him? how much are you paying some guy if he came over in a trade from the st. louis browns? what did he sign for at the beginning of the year? did you pay him a bonus? all of this was in the league office files. and major league baseball dumped it across the street here in cooperstown at the hall of fame and the national baseball library. now, they didn't have the staff to go through all this stuff. they just sort of keep it and treasure it and preserve it for the baseball researchers. primarily, for members of the society for american baseball research. and these guys really went to work. and they went card by card by card and they figured out what the black sox were making. and you've got to have context. so, they were making something. well, the numbers of what any of them was paid in 1919 were -- are pretty pathetic compared to what they're being paid now because the dollar is pretty pathetic now. but what were the black sox
being paid then? well, consider this, the white sox finished sixth in 1918, okay? it was the war. they had lost some guys. other teams had lost guys, too, so it probably all evened out. they went from world champions in 1917 to sixth place in 1918. and yet, and yet at the beginning of that season they're going to have the third highest payroll in the american league. and at the end of that season they're going to be the highest paid team in the american league. okay. they are not underpaid at all. now, another aspect of this that you may read or have heard, well, they were much better than the cincinnati reds. and the reds were paid more than they were. no, no. the reds were the sixth highest paid team in the national league and the eighth highest paid team
in the major leagues. of the 15 highest paid players in the american league, five of them were on the white sox. two of them, who were honest players on that team, ed eddy collins, second baseman, who was getting $15,000, which was the second highest salary in baseball, ty cobb was getting $20,000. and ray schalk, who was the highest paid catcher in the american league. he was getting $7,083. three members of the black sox, cicotte, jackson and weaver, were also among the top 15 players. and the next year of the 17 highest paid american leaguers, seven were members of the black sox. so, comiskey was not underpaying his players. what was comiskey getting paid? well, that's easy for you to
say, mr. comiskey, these guys are paid well. because of the war in 1918, the previous two years comiskey had been drawing $10,000 a year. and he owned the team. and he took a cut to $5,000 a year. also the revenues really went down that year, so white sox attendance went down by 70% in 1918 and the team lost $46,000. so, consider all those things and things start to fall away of these myths of why the white sox did it. the bonuses. one of the stories i didn't mention earlier is the players were promised a bonus and all they got -- you've seen this in the movie "eight men out" and all they get is a case of champagne. they open it up and it's like --
it's flat. it's stale. they're incensed about this. well, it -- they were -- they were not -- they could not have been promised a bonus as a team, okay. we know they were promised cham sxan they got champagne. how bad it was, who knows. but it was -- they put forward a rule that you could not promise a bonus to team members if they won the world series. and the reason for this is because some losing teams ended up getting a higher bonus than the winning teams in the world series. and this was done -- and one of the owners who did this and caused the losing team to have more than the winning team, this would have been in 1906 was, again, the cheapskate charles
co-miss s comiskey. he paid out a bonus to the losing team and that's what caused that. so you couldn't promise a bonus overall to the team. and then there's a bonus to eddie cicotte. there's a big scene in the movie where cicotte goes in and says, i was promised a bonus of $10,000, mr. comiskey, if i won 30 games. and i didn't -- you know, i was held back. you didn't -- wouldn't let the manager pitch me to win that 30th game. and comiskey goes to his secretary, the general manager, and says, could you look up in the records how many games mr. cicotte won? 29. 29. it's not 30, eddie. just so cynical and all that. except that's not absolutely not true again. bonuses were not promised that
way. they would not be promised a $10,000 bonus when his base salary was $5,000. it would be in increments. it would also be in -- maybe you would get so much more if you got -- won 20 games or if you won 25 games. in fact, this is what happened with lefty williams that year. he got to 15 games and 20 games and he got extra bonuses for that. but really why it's not true is because eddie cicotte did get that clahance to win 30 games a he lost the game. he was not held out. he went home voluntarily to his farm in michigan at the end -- in the middle of august and was called back by the white sox, given a chance to win and he didn't win. so, every aspect of this is absolutely false. also, why would you promise a bonus to someone who would win
30 games that year? 30 games were pretty rare, even back then. i think walter johnson had done it in 1913, but it was really, really rare, even then. and eddie cicotte had led the american league in losses the year before. so, again, none of this makes any sense. and -- but cicotte does get a bonus, okay? the truth of the matter is, cicotte, even without this performance bonus of 30 games, does get a bonus because he was promised in 1918, if he had the same sort of year he had in 1917 when he won 28 games, that he would get a $3,000 bonus. well, he stunk up the lot in 1918. but comiskey, because he's good the next year in 1919, gives him the bonus was promised for 1918. so, he ends up as the second highest paid pitcher in the american league, in the major league, actually, next to the great walter johnson.
again, myth, myth, myth, myth. also, so if cicotte did this, if he was in on the fix, and he was actually one of the ring leaders, because he was stiffed on the bonus, which would have occurred late, late, late in the season, why do we know by his own confession that he was working on the fix in early september? and why do we know from buck weaver's conversation with a detective hired by charles comiskey that cicotte was talking about the fix in june? so, fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. now, how great were the white sox? we hear over and over again that they were one of the greatest teams in baseball history. they were pretty good. they won the world championship in 1917.
they won the pennant in 1919. but they win it by 3 1/2 games. even in a 140-game season, that's not all that impressive. that's kind of middling. they were supposed to roll over the cincinnati reds. well, the reds win their pennant by nine games. nine games. and they have the highest one-loss percentage in baseball -- or it is not exceeded until the 1927 yankees, who ain't bad, okay? ain't bad at all. and their second half season is amazing. they have a one loss percentage of .712 in that second half. they are on fire going into the -- going into the world series. and they are deep. where the white sox were shallow
in a pitching staff, the reds are so strong, they can start five different guys in the first five games of that 1919 world series. there's another myth, which is maybe not as important, but in terms of, like, how difficult was it to garner information to construct histories of the black sox. and elliott writes that basically there was a wall of silence involving not only the black sox but the clean sox, the honest players, the players who played against them. and everyone for some reason, there was this cone of silence that fell down about the -- around the world series fix. and that's not true because we know, now again because you can search all that microfilm and find things out more equally, that 20 different reds and white sox players gave at least 85 different interviews afterwards.
now, some of these are not very true. they're contradictory. people will contradict themselves but people were willing to talk. they will not -- they were not -- many of them, however, were not willing to talk to the fellow whose history of the black sox is the standard history eliot asinof. i had the pleasure of meeting elliot late in his life. we were watching -- we were watching a series on espn, which was premiering. and he seemed like a very nice fellow. he was suffering from lyme disease then. but i -- when i first read "eight men out" when i would have been in high school, it was terrific. and it is a brilliant narrative. it is such a wonderfully written book, and it -- you just have the feeling that, okay, he's got it all. this is every detail in here. and it would be very hard for me
to improve on it. when i was writing my rothstein book, that was the idea i had at the beginning. and then i tried to figure out the narrative and it just didn't make any sense whatsoever. if you took a look at the chronology of things and how things were supposed to happen. it just sort of fell apart. i wrote that in rothstein, respectful respectfully. it was like this doesn't make sense. here's how the narrative really went down with arnold rothstein. out and i should have picked up u on this, but i first read the book when i was in high school so like i'm not exactly mr. experienced author at that point, okay, but like there are like, they're interior thoughts expressed. so and so was thinking that ini
this. dpood his good historians don't put that down. novelists do. elliot was a novelist and screen writer so he's creating this narrative going forward, for ward and forward and providing all these details which you should pick up on. how could he have known this or details. how could he have known this level of detail from what happened? i just picked out this at a random as i was preparing this in a dayeyay or so. quote, he, gandle, smiled, as he saw the bills that sullivan withdrew from his coat pocket. how would he have this information? how would he have this? so this is why this book has been described as a historical novel. a historical novel and there are further imagination characters in it. there are made up people in the
book. one of which is a guy named harry f, a gambler, who is supposed to have threatened lefty williams on the eight game of the series. how do we know he's imaginary? the author told us this and he said i'm doing this or i did this on the advice of my publish to protect my copyright in case someone is going to palagiarize me. you can't copyright an vid, a fact. this doesn't make any sense. and other people think other characters are fictitious. he often admitted there was at least one other fictitious character in this. now he consulted a couple of other authors. quite famous people to get a an
idea of what went down with the white sox. two guys who had grown up in chicago and heroes had been players. nelson allred. if you've ever seen the movie the man with the golden r arm, his hero and james ferrell who wrote studslonagon, his hero was buck weaver and they were both very left wing authors so they had to this sort of working man against management idea ylg and he basically had the same and was blacklisted. he was blacklisted many the 1950s, he had fronted for blacklisted authors and so he comes at the topic with this
which is not bad if you u get the facts right. you got understood by now, the facts were not right and not right because you know, in some ways, because he did not have the material, but then embellished it and fit everything into this one narrative. one of the most perplexing things which i don't think anyone is r going to know is how did it start and there's a body of thought that started with the players and we know the eight players involved on the black saakashvili sox by the gamblers are all over the place and there's about four or five different groups of them in various places. there's a guy named sports sullivan in boston.
big gamababl gambler. bigled the bets for george cohen. there's concern over whether that series was fixed. roth siteen, the go to guy, the lone shark, the labor rocketeer, gambler, the casino owner, the bootlegger, the drug smuggler, the guy who's involved in everything in new york with politics and wall street bucket shops.
that was the name of a book about him in 1959. very true. so sports sullivan might be up doing and fixing the world series, but he doesn't have the money to make it a all work. now maybe you could make that work. there's $80,000. $10,000 a man being dangled in front of the white sox. but then what do you do? you've got to lay down bets to make money on the world series. no use doing this as some intellectual exercise that we're going to just fix the series and then go with that. the point is to put down bets and make a bundle of money. so you've got to have to have two pots of money. bribe the players.
lay down the bets. steen can supply that. then there are a bunch of gamblers from the midwest. there was a fellow named henry kidd becker who had been working on fix iing the 1918 world seri. never quite pulled it off and was thinking about doing the 1919 world series but unfortunately, he was shot dead in april 1919 by the husband of one of his girlfriends. but he left behind other gamblers in st. louis. a guy named carl, harry, ben franklin and other gamblers in des moines. this is interesting that the supposedly honest stayed upright midwest, you see all these gambling centers in there and in des moines, there's a guy named david settler and ben and lou le levy. big gamblers. they're going to be involved in this. then a fourth group, i don't know if you can call two people a group, and they are sleepy bill burns and billy maharg.
bill burns had been a major league pitcher of no great repute at all and no great energy, which is why he was called sleepy bill. he would literally fall asleep on the bench, but he had left baseball and, he was speculating in oil leases in texas. he would come up and hang around with all the ballplayers and try to sell them or try to get them to invest in oil leases, so he's traveling this circuit of major league cities and teams. he's on trains with the players in 1919 and he hear this is rumor and in fact, the players approach him. they're so crooked. even though they've got $80,000 on the b table now promised from the gamblers of sullivan and roth steen, they go to these guys and say we'll throw it to you. for 100,000. such a bargain. and burns doesn't have any kind
of money like this. maharg doesn't at all. he's working in a locomotive plant in philadelphia. and maharg goes back to philadelphia to raise the money and they tell him in philadelphia, you know who's got the money, the guy in new york. arnold roth steen's got the money. go see him. they do. they try to see him at the racetrack. at his office. and roth steen he's very restrained. invites them to meet with him to discuss the fix and he knows they're coming to discuss the fix. in the middle of the restaurant in the biggest hotel in times square, in the middle f of everything, he's invited these e guys not to his office, but there to discuss the fix and they do. rothstein has a former new york
city police detective at his table and reputedly a new york city judge so he's got witnesses to what will then happen which is roth stoostein saying i want nothing to do with your fix. nothing to do with it. of course he has another fix going on and also he's creating an alibi. a very big alibi that he had nothing to do with any sort of fix, which is false but he soon comes to think that well, maybe i can make these burns and maharg guys work for me. yeah. i'll tell them i'll give them the money an tell the players there will be another 100,000 in the pot for them. and with all this money dangled, these players will throw this series. and i don't even have to advance anymore. and if something goes wrong, maybe these guys will take the rap.
now, the rothstein uses a couple of agents of his, a guy named abatel. another boxer. very famous guy and rachel brown, who was really named nat evans and zeltzer is involved but he's going by an alias. rothstein is a slow pay. he knows the value of keeping money around so you can invest it in other things such as loan sharking. so if you don't pay the white sox players what you've promised them right away, say you're holding on to another 40 or $50,000, you can use that to bet on them, which isn't much to bet because you know the outcome or to just loan some money to some guy in times scaquare so why pu the money to use that way?
hang on to it. being a slow pay will eventually get him killed after he has a slow pay of $150,000 after a high stakes poker game in 1928, but his guys are not paying with white sox right away. and they feel stiffed. so they're going to start the to play to win. everybody is double crossing everyone else. and that is why say for example, ed die seacop wins that one gam that he wins in the 1919 world series and why even though harry f. was made up by elliot there were threats coming in. an account of one threat coming into williams then chick later on in an interview and i don't vouch for chick. he says there were calls coming in from gamblers all the time threatening these guys to shape up. the way you get eight players
involved then i've named 11 gamblers, not counting harry. so you've got a minimum of 19 guys here and they can't keep their mouth shut. and there's some reasons why, which are good reasons. say you're a crooked player and your relative and friend wants to bet money on your team and you go, no, don't bet, bet on the other fwi guy, okay. so they can't keep their mouth shut. rumors of the fix start in august. in sayre toga, rothstein tells a guy the series is going to be fixed. he tells the former owner of the cubs, charlie wingman, about it. eventually xhis ski is going to know about these rumors. he's going to get agitated about
it. the manager of the white sox is going to get agitated and after the series is over, there's a series of articles coming out about the rumored fix to a guy named hugh fullerton and it's interesting that when they come out, the sporting news, the bible of baseball comes out and really there's a famous account or plastic by them which is incredibly anti-semitic about a bunch of thick nose, hook lip gamblers that are behind this and just because they do things, don't believe that anyone in our great american game played by americans would ever stoop to this. well, they certain sly stooped it xhis ki hired gamblers in the
offseason. how much did he really know? there's knowing and there's proving. he offered a $10,000 reward right after the series to anyone who could prove that the series was fixed and harry red mumond comes forward and says i want the $10,000. actually, it's through redmond that we first know that weaver was involved in the meetings to fix the but it's like well, this is here say, what do you udoh? he hires detectives at a a cost of $20,000 to interview, to get close to and gain the confidence of weaver and gandle and mcmullan, out in california and each detective comes back and says we think something happened. but you know, the guy who interviews weaver says i don't think he was involved. and the one talks to gand lrk
lrk e, i don't think he was involved. the same thing happens to mcmullan then felsh. so what basic basis does he have bring action? really none. really none. what's going on now with the black sox is there's a national commission in baseball ruling baseball and it's made up of three members. national league president, american legal president, american league president is ban johnson. he's run ining the game. and he's ticked people off. they want to dump him. he's investigating the white sox at the same time, he finds out about him. they track down bill burns in mexico and a grand jury conve
convenes. in september of 2019 to investigate a great baseball scandal. what's the scandal? that maybe a philadelphia philly, chicago cubs game is going to be fixed. what's this got to do with the white sox? nothing. the story appears to have been planted so that the grand jury can investigate crookedness in baseball. the it's being run by a guy called charles mcdonald, who's an ally of ban johnson. johnson is plumping mcdonald to be the new commissioner of baseball. they're going to have a commissioner. the real favorite r for this job is ken saw money tin landis. he had been the guy to fine s n standard oil $26 million in 1907 and chased down people during
the war. and had helped save baseball a and there was a third league organized baseball when there was a third league being formed in 1914, 1915.oesn't want landisbecause he's too strong a guy. nobody did. he wants mcdonald and hoping this grand jury will elevate mcdonald to be the star of the show. he's not the star of the show. what they do is get into ve investigating the black sox. three players cob confessed to the grand juriment williams, weaver and jackson. felsh confesses to a newspaper reporter in philadelphia and a whole bunch of people are indicteded. players and gamblers. they are they're all acquitted.
there's a scene in the movie of eight men out where it's revealed that the grand jury confessions have been folin and ail of a sudden, the prosecution has no basis for prosecution. again, really a missed statement. they were missing, but they were immediately reconstructed from stenographer's notes, so they did not impact the trial much. what did impact the trial was judge hugo friend said you can't use these confessions by these three guys, jackson, weaver and seacot against the other players and you just also prove and you must also prove the intent they were trying to defraud people. how do you prove intent? how do you know what's going on in someone's mind?
that really helps kill the chances for a conviction. in two hours and 47 minutes, the jury comes back. they come back and say acquitted. all the black sox players are acquitted and they are they are home scot-free. they are not because what landis does within hours is to issue a statement saying that regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who has thrown the game or conspired to though a game or who has sat in on a meeting of crooked play eers and gamblers d is not so informed his ball club will ever play baseball, organized baseball, ever again. and that takes care of a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of things. very eloquent and lawyerly all at the same time, regardless of the verdict of juries. no player who has fixeded a game. well everyone knew you were not supposed to fix a game, although
it was not illegal. they were not indicted for fixing a game. okay? there was no law against it. that came later on, but you knew. also guys who sat in on a meeting. people like weaver or who did n not, there's going to be a couple of scandaling goi ingoin they are broken up quickly because the honest players who have been offered bribes will immediately rat on their fellow teammates. nobody wants to be the next buck weaver. once that barrier of silence is broken then baseball becomes a clean game. that's one of the things you see in the news stories at this time about the black sox. of or baseball in general,
really. it's a clean game. a clean game. it's a clean game. it's not like boxing. not like horse racing. this is something we can believe in. and if landis had not done that, and if the game had not been cleaned up, the it would have gone down the same route as boxing. you wouldn't have known which was on the level et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. and all of this is tied up in so many amaze amazing stories. notice that rothstein, where's he at the trial? where's atel at the trial? sports sullivan? they disappear. sullivan just disappears for a while. rothstein goes before the grand jury and complains about he's being assaulted by the reporters and that's the story there.
who was controlling the grand jury? judge mcdonald and who was controlling judge mcdonald? why would ban johnson want rothstein to be free or cleared? because of the power struggle for baseball. rothstein was partners with the casino in ha vana and maybe eve the giants by a fwam named charles. sto stoneham would have been one of the votes who was promised would be one u of the votes to help prop up johnson to survey vise leader of baseball and that never happens because another double cross, double cross, double cross so what we have with the black sox and what we have in baseball here is this remarkable story of human frailty, people thinking they can get away with something and finding out they can't and
finding out that things will not be tolerated anymore and that's why baseball and because of that and a guy named babe ruth, why baseball survived that series and why we're looking forward to it starting tomorrow night. thank you. i'll take some questions. i guess i'll repeat them so cspan audience can hear them. but any questions? yes. >> did other white sox players who weren't in on it, did they know about it? >> they didn't the only one, well, weaver never took any money. the question is, who got what amount of money and seacot got most that we know of. he got 10,000. he got what he was promise frd
the original 80. the others all got five. weaver got nothing because he wouldn't agree to it but he sat in on two meetings. gandle in the article in the 1950s says that weaver wanted the money up front. at one point, he was saying we could take the money and get the winning share of the series. which was about $5,000 as compared to about 32,000. but again, i wouldn't trust gandle b about anything. the other players don't know, but they really suspect and raw schalk, the catch er, gets realy visibly upset even on the field and in the clubhouse during the series. so they know. they know but they don't, they
can't prove. what is true u about the cinematic accounts of this it's a factional ball club. you've got guys who really can't stand the other guys. gandle says when he was talking about letting somebody into the f fix, he says yeah, we didn't love them, but didn't hate them as much as the other guys so it's quite the crew. anything else? >> the most famous was shumann. >> yeah. >> what in your view was his kulpaablety in this whole drama. >> well, again, this story is just so damn complex. what complicates it, well two things. complicate jackson.
one is he hits .375 in the series. has 12 hits, which i think was the record for a long time. he hits the only home run of the series. either team. he has no errors. catches a man home at the plate. okay. but he takes the money. he takes $5,000 and gets it handed to him by lefty williams. so and he's not at the meetings. he's the one guy who doesn't attend either a meeting. there's two. one of all the players together to discuss the fix then later with the gamblers and he's at neither one. now it, i think one might say, okay. here's some things he said to the press after he gave his confession. he did confess.
he said to the press afterwards, i said i got $5,000 and they promised me 20,000. all i got was the 5,000 and lefty williams handed me in a dirty envelope. i never got the other 15,000. well, boohoo hoo. i told that to judge mcdonald, he said i didn't care what he got. i don't think the judge likes me. i never got the 15,000 that was coming to me. hello statement. then he said at another point and i'm going to give you a tip. a lot of these sporting writers that have been roast iing me ha been talking about the third game of the world series being square. let me tell you something. the eight of us did our best to kick it and dickey carr won that game by his pitching because those gamblers double crossed us because we double cross ed them. now what he may have done
conscious ly is this. he may have decided to submit hairs and say i won't do anything to throw the series or be suspicious about my activities. and he hits that home run for example when the sox are down 10-5 in the last game when things are out of reach and when he gets the guy out at home, the throw is offline. shaw makes this incredible play to dive backward and get the ball home. it's schalk's play really and not his. but that he lends his name to the fix. the gamblers might not want to put all this money and be sure it's going through without the premier named player r attached to it. so he said i'll use my name. i think that may be his cup
uab kulpaablety there. he's ill literal. there's a difference between uneducated and dumb. he runs several businesses afterwards and doesn't run them into the ground so he has some native smarts, but the thing, there was a petition recently from the people in south carolina where he's really a hero. greenville, south carolina. there's a museum to him. i think they're moving his house down the road and putting a bigger museum and it was just announced a movie about him, which is in development, but development being made are two different things. so he continues to be a folk hero. of sorts, but it reminds me of the circumstances with pete
rose. the when it was more active when pete rose would go in. people would ask me when i was doing more baseball stuff. how do you feel about pete rose going into the hall of fame? i said you know, i don't care that much for pete rose, for what he did , but if you wanted to stick it to him, here's what you do. a few years back, there would be a debate about whether ralph kiner belong ed in the hall of fame. or the scooter, or richie ashburn or somebody. and then we have a lot of talk about them. then they would get in and no one ever menged them again. so if you want to bury a guy publicly, you put him in the hall of fame. you make him the 180th best member of the hall of fame.
instead of the best guy or most famous guy not in the hall of fame. that would kind of do the same for joe if he were in but if he's in and family is coming in, father, mother, parent has got the kid there and looking at this plaque, so what did this guy do. what took him so long to get here. is this the best baseball has to offer? you know that he took the money and complained about not getting more? you know, one of the things about honor and such, the reason, one of the reasons why landis may apply that standard to buck weaver is he had a nephew in the u.s. military academy. the honor of i will not lie, cheat, steal nor will i it will rate anyone who does is what is
essential lew applied to weaver. yes. yes, sir. >> how did the sox begin rebuilding the team? >> money. money. they buy a lot of players and don't turn out all that well. this is the era when you could buy players. not just from the other major league teams. you could buy them from the majors. specifically from the pacific coast league. in the '30s, jthose guys are purchased in the pcl and comisski is doing this if the 1920s. he paid big bucks for them although in the 19, mid 1920s, thank you schalk becomes the manager of the white sox and posts a winning record.
comiski is so involved in the cover up. protect his investment in the team and that's why he doesn't you know, ban all these guys in 1919. what he does do in 1920 is this. the grand jury has heard the confessions of the three players. and felsh has talked. he spilled the beans as well. he acts like boom, the hammer goes down and he suspends the black sox. i was going to say the eight, but it's seven because gandle was not playing with the team. he left to retire and go to california bf that. but with the season, with about three games left to go and the sox still in the pennant race, comiski guts his team at that point and gets rid of these guys and sinks their chance for a
second con ssecutive pennant. jay grouper who just acquired babe ruth says this is terrible. i'll loan you babe ruth for the rest of is season. the commissioner says no, we don't do that. but again a lot of things which happened in the wake of that. yes. going once. why didn't batel appear at the trial? these two weren't at the trial. arnold had this attorney named bill fallon, who was an
incredibly inventive attorney. at one point, he puts william randolph hurst on trial by say ing you know the reason they printed these lies about me fixing juries is because i know the truth and i have the birth certificates of the twin daughters that randolph hurst fathered by marian davies, it's a complete lie. no twins. made up. so he would come out with stuff like this. he makes up the story about rothstein being assaulted by reporters. in chicago.
poor rothstein. but what he remarkably does is rothstein and fallon had sent abate lerks out of the country to montreal, go hide, stay there forf, shut up. but then they think it over and fallon brings him back. he is walking through times square one day and a couple detectives, a pickpocket squad, go up to him and arrest him and rain him for his part in the black sox fix. then they bring in a witness from chicago named sammy pass who atell had bet with on the series and pass would have said atell bet with me. the series was fixeded and i was defrauded. he shows up in court. this is atell.
he remembered the featherweight champion of the world. he was a famous guy. and pat says no, it was a different abah tell that i bet with. this is complete purgery. this is a total lie. money was passed pass at grand central terminal or penn station. when he got into town. so atell walks that way. this is how chicago justice and new york justice was handled in those ways. and so that in the when the trial concludes with the black sox, one of the most pisuspicio things that happened, this looks like it would have been invented in hollywood for eight men out, but it's not, that the celebrating players and their attorneys dpo to an italian restaurant in chicago and now those guys at saber have figured
out where the restaurant was and then it was owned by an associate of al capone and the players and their attorneys are in one room of this raes raunt and there's a movable partition between another room and the jurors, the jurors are in that next room and that wall comes down and they have a wonderful party together. and also some of the grand ju jurors used to visit new york after that. and they would be treated to wonderful things by arnold rothstein. so that's the story of justice 1919. and hopefully 2019 series will end up a lot better. thank you.
this is american history tv on cspan 3. where each weekend, we feature 48 hours of programs exploring our nation's past. next on american history tv, we hear from monica kim, author of the interrogation roops of the korean war, the untold story. she explains the controversial tactics used by the u.s. and its allies during the war. the wilson center and national history center co-hosted this event. >> once more, welcome to the wilson center, washington history seminar. seminar for which we tried