Tuesday, November 3, 2009

WORLD SERIES The Scandal of 1919

No doubt we have all seen the terrific movie called "The Field of Dreams" starring Kevin Costner who builds a baseball stadium on his Iowa farm after hearing the chat, "If you build it, he will come".

Gambling and game-fixing had been a problem in professional baseball from the beginning. Baseball's gambling problems came to a head in 1919, when 8 players of the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw the 1919 World Series. The Sox had won the series in 1917 and were heavy favorites to beat the Cincinnati Reds, but first baseman Gandil had other plans. Gandil, in collaboration with gambler Joseph "Sport" Sullivan, approached his teammates and got six of them to agree to throw the Series.

Eddie Cicotte, starting pitcher played by Steve Eastin
Lefty Williams, short stop
Swede Risberg, left fielder played by Charles Hoyes
Shoeless Joe Jackson, center fielder, played by Ray Liotta
Happy Felsch, infielder, played by Art LaFleur
Fred McMullin, infielder
Buck Weaver, Third Base played by Michael Milhoan

The Sox, who were promised $100, 000 for cooperating, proceeded to lose the Series in eight games, pitching poorly, hitting poorly and making many errors. Though he took the money, Jackson insisted to his death that he played to the best of his ability in the series (he was the best hitter in the series, but had markedly worse numbers in the games the White Sox lost).

The Series turned out to indeed have serious consequences for the sport. After rumors circulated for nearly a year, the players were suspended in September 1920.

The "Black Sox" were acquitted in a criminal conspiracy trial. However they were all banned for life from playing professional ball.

In the movie, the field is built for those "Black Sox" who had been banned along with other players who had died and still wanted to play ball.

The scandal was real, it was dubbed, "World Serious".

But what about this Shoeless Joe Jackson? What is the story on him?


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