The "Black Sox" baseball betting scandal led to the banning of eight players, the introduction of a new commisioner and strict rules prohibiting gambling.
The White Sox were defeated and throughout rumours were rife that the players, motivated by a mixture of greed and a dislike of penurious club owner Charles Comiskey, had taken money to throw the games. The rumors dogged the club throughout the 1920 season, as the White Sox battled the Cleveland Indians for the AL pennant that year, and stories of corruption touched players on other clubs as well. At last, in September 1920, a Grand Jury was convened to investigate.
During the investigation two players, Eddie Cicotte and Shoeless Joe Jackson, confessed and the eight players were tried for their role in the fix. Prior to the trial, key evidence went missing from Cook County Courthouse, including the signed confessions of Cicotte and Jackson, who subsequently recanted their confessions. The players were acquitted. Some years later, the missing confessions reappeared in the possesion of Comiskey's lawyer.
The Leagues were not so forgiving. Under the commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, all eight players were banned from organised baseball for life.
Much more to follow
The banned players were:
- Joe Jackson. The star outfielder, one of the best hitters in the game, confessed to accepting money from the gamblers. (The story told by Hugh Fullerton of a tearful young boy standing on the courthouse steps, calling out "Say it ain't so, Joe!" is almost certainly apocryphal.)
- Eddie Cicotte. The pitcher also confessed to accepting money from the gamblers. His first pitch of Game One of the 1919 World Series hit Reds leadoff batter Morrie Rath in the back, which was the pre-arranged signal to the gamblers that the players had accepted the fix.
- Oscar "Happy" Felsch
- Claude "Lefty" Williams, pitcher.
- Arnold "Chick" Gandil. The leader of the players who were in on the fix.
- Fred McMullin. A utility infielder, McMullin would not have been included in the fix had he not overheard player conversations. He threatened to tell all if not included.
- Charles "Swede" Risberg
- Buck Weaver, third baseman. (Weaver attended the initial meetings, and while he didn't go in on the fix, knew about it. Landis banished him on this basis.)
- Asinof, Eliot. Eight Men Out
See also: Baseball/History