What is the Black Sox Scandal?
The Black Sox Scandal refers to an incident that arose during the 1919 World Series. During this event, eight members of the Chicago White Sox, intentionally threw (lost on purpose) the games and essentially gave the Cincinnati Reds a World Series crown. By intentionally losing the World Series, those involved in the Black Sox Scandal could cash in on their teams misfortune. The model of a fix is very simple; the players involved in the Black Sox Scandal intentionally play poorly, causing their team to lose, while conducting deals with gamblers and organized crime members who bet heavily on the Reds to win. Although the team loses from their poor play, those aligned with the Black Sox Scandal cash in on the proceeds obtained from the wagers.
The plan to throw the World Series was instituted by the White Sox first basemen, Arnold Gandil, a prominent member of the team and a man who was commonly linked to the underworld of organized crime. Gandil persuaded Joseph Sullivan—a friend and professional gamble—that a fix could be pulled off if enough players were heavily compensated.
New York gangster, Arnold Rothstein supplied the eight members of the White Sox with money through his chief lieutenant, Abe Attell.
Gandil got numerous players on the team to agree to fix the World Series; the majority of the members aligned with the scandal were fueled by their dislike for then owner, Charles Comiskey.
Gandil enlisted starting pitchers, Eddie Cicotte, Claude Williams, outfielder Oscar Flesch and shortstop Charles Risberg.
Before the series started, gamblers involved in the fix bet heavy money on the Cincinnati Reds. Although the series lasted 8 games (best of 9) the Cincinnati Reds ultimately won and claimed the World Series in 1919.
Fallout from the Black Sox Scandal:
Following the conclusion, rumors swirled regarding the fix. Disproportional gambling revenues were awarded to those who bet on Cincinnati and numerous leaks trickled down to the owners of both clubs. The rumors eventually grew so strong that the Chicago grand jury conducted a formal investigation into the Black Sox scandal in September of 1920. During this investigation, two players, Cicotte and the White Sox’s star player, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, confessed their participation in the Black Sox Scandal.
Following the admission of guilt, the players who participated in the Black Sox Scandal were suspended and subsequently banned from participating in Major league Baseball.
Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Involvement in the Black Sox Scandal:
The extent of Shoeless Joe Jackson’s participation in the Black Sox Scandal is somewhat muddled and extremely controversial. Shoeless Joe Jackson originally confessed to having accepted $5,000 from the gamblers; however, he later recanted his admission to guilt and protested his innocence until his death. Throughout the investigation and the years following the banishment, fellow teammates claimed that Shoeless Joe Jackson was not involved in the Black Sox Scandal and never attended any meetings with the gamblers or organized crime members.
Shoeless Joe Jackson was the star of the Chicago White Sox and played quiet well in the World Series—he led the team in batting over the eight games with a .375 average. That being said, his admission to guilt and some sketchy plays made in the field prompted Major League Baseball to suspend Shoeless Joe Jackson for life.