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Chiago Black Sox

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SportsCenter Flashback:

The Chicago Black Sox banned from baseball

The 1919 Chicago White Sox had Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, superb pitchers. And slick-fielding Chick Gandil at first base and workhorse Buck Weaver at third. And outfielder Shoeless Joe Jackson.

The White Sox were, to put it simply, the best team money could buy.

And it got bought.

Led by Gandil, who rounded up Cicotte, Williams, Weaver, Jackson, shortstop Swede Risberg, outfielder Oscar Happy Felsch and utility player Fred McMullin, Chicago threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

There was good reason the Sox were susceptible to the lure of quick money. They were among the American League's best players but Charles Comiskey paid most of them no more than the worst. The promised bonus for winning the 1917 pennant was a case of cheap champagne. Before the 1919 season, Comiskey promised Cicotte an extra $10,000 if he won 30 games. When Cicotte reached 29, Comiskey benched him. Player resentment was rampant.

On Sept. 18, the World Series fix was hatched in Gandil's room in Boston's Hotel Buckminster when he summoned bookmaker-gambler Joseph "Sport" Sullivan and told him: "I think we can put it in the bag." Gandil asked for $80,000 (later raised to $100,000). He approached the bitter Cicotte, who said he'd go along for $10,000 up front. Gandil also sold the idea to Williams and Risberg; McMullin overheard Gandil and asked in. Weaver apparently sat in on some meetings but refused to participate.

Jackson insisted that when Gandil offered him $10,000, and even when he doubled it, he refused to go along. Gandil supposedly told Jackson to take it or leave it because the fix was in anyway. Gandil may have lied and said Shoeless Joe was part of the scheme, essential since Jackson was the star of the team.

Gandil was told he'd be paid before the first game. But Sullivan didn't have that kind of money. He brought in other gamblers and, through them, Arnold Rothstein. It was said he would bet on anything he could fix. Rothstein provided most of the money.

The night before Game 1 in the best-of-9 Series (an experiment ended after three seasons), Cicotte found $10,000 under a pillow in his hotel room. None of the others was paid up front. The next day, Cicotte's second pitch hit Reds leadoff batter Morrie Rath, the signal that the fix was in.

Cicotte was hammered 9-1 by the Reds. Despite not getting the money promised for losing Game 1 -- they were told it was out on bets, the players agreed to throw Game 2. Williams lost 4-2. That night, Gandil demanded the $40,000 he and his teammates were owed. He was given $10,000. The players felt betrayed and began to think about playing to win.

They won the third game 3-0 when rookie Dickie Kerr pitched a three-hitter. Before Game 4, Sullivan came up with $20,000 and promised $20,000 more if Chicago lost. Gandil split the $20,000 evenly among Risberg, Felsch, Williams and Jackson. ( McMullin and Weaver would never see a dime.) Cicotte lost 2-0; Williams lost 5-0.

Once again the promised $20,000 never appeared. The conspirators decided they'd been lied to enough and played to win, beating the Reds 5-4 and 4-1 in Games 6 and 7.

Rothstein took matters into his own hands. A thug was dispatched to tell Williams, the Game



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