If you read Eight Men Out any time in the last 50 years or watched the Hollywood film based on that book, you may be surprised to learn:
The Black Sox Scandal is a cold case, not a closed case.
I’ve been researching the story of “baseball’s darkest hour” for more than half of my life. And in that time, we’ve learned a lot more about the fixing of the 1919 World Series and its aftermath. A lot of new information has been uncovered in recent years that is changing our understanding of the Black Sox story. All of these new pieces to the puzzle have provided definitive answers to some old mysteries and raised other questions in their place.
It’s a story that continues to fascinate baseball fans, writers, and researchers all over the world. And the Black Sox Scandal continues to be a relevant part of the sports world in the 21st century. In 2015, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred rejected the longstanding efforts to clear the names of Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver.
That same year, the Society for American Baseball Research published a collaborative book I edited, Scandal on the South Side: The 1919 Chicago White Sox, which included full-life biographies of everyone associated with baseball’s most infamous team. (Click here to read the introductory chapter from our book.)
If you’re interested in learning more about the Black Sox Scandal, I encourage you to join our SABR research committee dedicated to the subject and read our biannual newsletters. As the centennial anniversary of the 1919 World Series approaches, we’re learning more about this fascinating story all the time. Check out some of my articles below to dig in!
Below, watch my interview about Scandal on the South Side on Arizona PBS:
A sampling of my Black Sox-related research:
1919 American League salaries: It’s often reported that the 1919 White Sox threw the World Series because they were dissatisfied with their low salaries. We now have accurate salary information that challenges the idea. (Scandal on the South Side)
No ‘Solid Front of Silence’: The Forgotten Black Sox Scandal Interviews: Debunking a longstanding myth that the 1919 World Series participants refused to talk about the scandal because of shame or fear from gamblers. Click here for the full list of interviews via Google Docs. (SABR Baseball Research Journal)
Closing the Door on Black Sox Reinstatement: After a century of efforts to clear the names of Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver, MLB may have finally closed the door — for good. (The National Pastime Museum)
Rare footage of 1919 World Series discovered in Canadian archive: An unlikely discovery in the Yukon leads to an invaluable newsreel film on YouTube. (SABR.org)
The Black Sox: After the Fall: Following their banishment from the major leagues, the Eight Men Out fanned out across the country and made a living the only way they knew how: by playing baseball. (The National Pastime Museum)
Bringing Home the Bacon: How the Black Sox Got Back Into Baseball: The story of a 1921 Illinois town-team game involving banished Black Sox players Eddie Cicotte, Swede Risberg, and Shoeless Joe Jackson. (Journal of Illinois History; reprinted in The National Pastime magazine)
SABR BioProject: Lefty Williams: The life story of the White Sox’s left-handed ace in 1919, from his childhood in Missouri through his checkered major-league career, and beyond. (SABR.org)
SABR BioProject: Fred McMullin: The life story of the Eighth Man Out, the utility infielder whose role in the Black Sox Scandal may have been much more significant than anyone realized. (SABR.org)
SABR BioProject: John Sullivan: This talented left-handed pitcher only played four games for the White Sox in 1919 before a heart condition forced him out of the major leagues, but he later became known as the Strikeout King of Chicago. (SABR.org)
Call the Game! The 1917 Fenway Park Gamblers Riot: The most farcical game-fixing incident of the Deadball Era shows just how entrenched gambling was in baseball culture during the early 20th century — and nearly made heroes out of the future Black Sox. (Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game)
The Whitewashing of Hal Chase: Baseball officials looked the other way for years as the game’s “black prince” made a career of bribing his teammates and opponents alike. (The National Pastime Museum)
Gambling in the Deadball Era: Part one of a three-part series looking at gambling’s influence on baseball in the years just prior to the Black Sox Scandal. (The National Pastime Museum)
An Opening Day Ovation for a Black Sox Exile: In 1938, exiled Black Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte was invited by the Detroit Tigers to participate in Opening Day ceremonies at Briggs Stadium. It’s the only known instance of a Black Sox player standing on a major-league field during an official baseball function. (SABR Black Sox newsletter)
Judge Landis and the Forgotten Chicago Baseball Bombings: A previously unknown story about labor unrest in 1923 that affected Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park. (The National Pastime Museum)
Walking Off To The World Series: In September 1919, Shoeless Joe Jackson stepped to the plate with a chance to make history — and clinch the American League pennant for the White Sox. (The National Pastime Museum)
Dickey Kerr: The Man Who Made ‘The Man’: The “honest” hero of the 1919 World Series shaped the career of a young future Hall of Famer: Stan Musial. (The National Pastime Museum)
A Rose by Another Name: Ray Fisher’s Ban From Baseball: The story of a Cincinnati Reds player who was permanently expelled from baseball decades before Pete Rose. (The National Pastime Museum)
Shoeless Joe and the ‘Lost’ Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame: The story of Shoeless Joe Jackson’s 1951 induction in the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame, the major leagues’ first team museum, at Municipal Stadium. (SABR Black Sox newsletter – PDF)
Eight Men In — the same box score: All eight Black Sox players appeared in the same box score on just two occasions in the major leagues. (SABR Black Sox newsletter – PDF)
Swede Risberg: More educated than you think: Article revealing Swede Risberg’s time at Hancock Grammar School in San Francisco. (SABR Black Sox newsletter – PDF)
Bill Burns: Running for the border: Article on the final years of Sleepy Bill Burns, former major league pitcher and one of the gamblers in the Black Sox Scandal. (SABR Black Sox newsletter – PDF)
The Man Who Replaced Shoeless Joe: A brief profile of Bibb Falk, who stepped in to fill Shoeless Joe’s, uhh, shoes as the Chicago White Sox left fielder in 1921 and hit .314 over 12 seasons in the big leagues. He then coached the University of Texas baseball team to two College World Series championships and 20 Southwest Conference titles. Also includes a 1988 oral history interview by Tom Willman. (SABR Black Sox newsletter – PDF)
Black Sox’s historic success in late innings: Article on the 1919-20 White Sox’s record-setting performance in games that were decided after the seventh inning. (SABR Black Sox newsletter – PDF)
By any other name: Black Sox teams in baseball history: Before and after the fixing of the 1919 World Series, many other amateur, semipro, and professional teams used the same name. None of those teams had any connection with the Chicago scandal, let alone the disgraced players who were banned from the game. Here are some of their stories. (SABR Black Sox newsletter – PDF)