The Black Sox Scandal: Baseball’s Saddest Day

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For baseball fans the “Black Sox Scandal” is something you likely know about. The “Black Sox” scandal took place in the year 1919 when the White Sox were paid by gamblers and various crime mobsters to throw the 1919 World Series.

What Happened?

History Daily

Baseball is a sport where the players were often paid off when they became disgruntled and angry about the game, the team, or their overall position therein. For the most part, this type of pay off was overlooked under the assumption that one player being paid off was not enough to alter or change the overall outcome of the game. The overall scheme for the “Black Sox” scandal was not a large scale plan that spanned weeks as some might have assumed.

The actual plan only started to take form in the few weeks before the series started. The plan was put into motion and major steps were taken when it became apparent that the White Sox would be the team to play against the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. A prominent gambler by the name of Joseph “Sport” Sullivan met with the first baseman for the White Sox, C. Arnold “Chick” Gandil. Gandil would later state that he was not all that sure that the scheme would ultimately work but he agreed and began to recruit some of his fellow players. What was the reward for their part in the plot? The palyers would get $100,000 if they threw the Series.

The money was to be split between all the players that took place in the plot. Gandil worked to recruit some fellow players and landed the help of Oscar “Happy” Flesch, the outfielder, Charles “Swede” Risberg, the shortstop, and two pitchers by the name of Eddie Cicotte and Claud “Lefty” Williams. There was another, Buck Weaver, that was part of the scheme to start with but he pulled out before it was put into play. Fred McMullin, an infielder, overheard the plot and wanted in and the White Sox power hitter “Shoeless” Joe Jackson was also part of the plot.

Securing the Loot

Sullivan had to scramble to get the $100,000 together by the time that the game was to take place so he contacted some of his fellow mob members, Abe Attell, Sleep Bill Burns, and Bill Maharg. The group sold whatever they had in order to get the money together. They even contacted New York mob leader Arnold Rothstein to see if he could help get the money together.

Suspicions were arisen when big time gamblers started to bet on the Cincinnati Reds rather than the predicted favorite and supposed winners, the White Sox. The bets kept pouring in until the start of the game when rumors began to circulate that the White Sox were being paid to lose. The World Series began on October 1 and the White Sox lost the Game 9-1 in game 1. They also lost game 2 with a score of 4-2. By game two the group had not seen any of the promised bribe money and they began to get suspicious. By game five the White Sox called off the fix and won the next two games making the mobsters furious.

The Investigation

After the Reds won the World Series an investigation was leveled against gambler Bill Maharg for fixing another game and he began to talk about the fix. The players that were involved in the fix were then called forward to testify and gained the nickname, the Black Sox. The players went to trial and they were found not guilty but were all eventually banned from the game.

Though this is a shameful smudge on the history of professional baseball, this is surely not the only time sports betting has taken place, just one of the only times that players have been caught red handed.


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