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8 Men Out: The 1919 Chicago White Sox Scandal

  • By Matt Eastman
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8 Men Out: The 1919 Chicago White Sox Scandal

The Chicago White Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds during the 1919 World Series and eight players were later accused of fixing the series. A few years later, the 1921 Black Sox trial acquitted all eight ball players, but nonetheless, the acquittal served only as a reprieve from legal ramifications for the players associated with the "Black-Sox Scandal," which later became a fantastic movie called 8 Men Out starring John Cusack and Charlie Sheen. 

The eight acquitted players were White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte, first baseman Arnold 'Chick' Gandil, shortstop Charles 'Swede' Risberg, center fielder Oscar 'Happy' Felsch, pitcher Claude 'Lefty' Williams, star outfielder 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson, third baseman George 'Buck' Weaver and utility infielder Fred McMullin. Buck Weaver did not go in on the fix, but he knew of the plan and was therefore banned due to this knowledge.

More significantly, it had been alleged during a 1920 grand jury investigation that "Sleepy Bill" Burns and professional boxer William Maharg facilitated bets with Sox players to throw games for gamblers. Cicotte, Felsch, Jackson and Williams admitted taking bribes for the 1919 World Series. The scandal had permanent ramifications for baseball, including the establishment of the office of Commissioner of Baseball.

A day after the players were acquitted, baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis dropped the hammer and ruled the players allegedly involved would be banned for life from organized baseball. 

"Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player that throws a ball game, no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are planned and discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball. … Baseball is entirely competent to protect itself against crooks, both inside and outside the game," Landis said.

To this day, it remains one of baseball's most iconic stories. 

Urban Gameday remembers those 8 Chicago players with this iconic, vintage shirt.  

8 MEN OUT

Cheers to Shoeless Joe!

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