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Arnold (Chick) Gandil
September 17, 1956
The ringleader of the infamous plot, the first baseman of the team which exploded baseball's dirty business with the game's worst scandal, breaks his silence to speak for the first time
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September 17, 1956

This Is My Story Of The Black Sox Series

The ringleader of the infamous plot, the first baseman of the team which exploded baseball's dirty business with the game's worst scandal, breaks his silence to speak for the first time

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First, there was Charles Comiskey, the White Sox owner. He was a sarcastic, belittling man who was the tightest owner in baseball. If a player objected to his miserly terms, Comiskey told him: "You can take it or leave it." Under baseball's slave laws, what could a fellow do but take it? I recall only one act of generosity on Comiskey's part. After we won the World Series in 1917, he splurged with a case of champagne.

Comiskey's manager was William (Kid) Gleason, who had been our coach in 1918 and became manager in 1919 when Clarence (Pants) Rowland resigned. He was a tough little guy, and he had a hard time trying to keep peace among the malcontents on our club. But most of the players liked him and gave him their best.

The players involved were most of the top guys on the club. There was Joe Jackson, the left fielder; Buck Weaver, third base; Oscar Felsch, the center fielder; Swede Risberg, our shortstop; Eddie Cicotte, our leading pitcher; Fred McMullin, a utility infielder; Claude Williams, who was basically perhaps even a better pitcher than Cicotte; and, finally, myself, the first baseman.

Let me tell you a little more about myself. I was 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighed 195 pounds and had been playing baseball for 14 years. I had run away from my home in St. Paul, Minnesota at the age of 17 and hopped a freight bound for Amarillo, Texas to play semipro. Then I caught on with an outlaw team in Cananea, Mexico, just across the Arizona border.

Cananea was a wide-open mining town in those days, which suited me fine. I was a wild, rough kid. I did a little heavyweight fighting at $150 a fight. I also worked part-time as a boilermaker in the copper mines.

I slowed down some after my marriage in 1908, but I guess I still remained a pretty roughhouse character. I played minor league ball for a couple of years, then was sold to the White Sox in 1910. I then bounced around to Washington and Cleveland but landed again with the White Sox in 1917. I have often been described as one of the ringleaders of the Black Sox scandal. There's no doubt about it. I was.

For all their skill, the White Sox in 1919 weren't a harmonious club. Baseball players in my day had a lot more cut-throat toughness anyway, and we had our share of personal feuds, but there was a common bond among most of us—our dislike for Comiskey. I would like to blame the trouble we got into on Comiskey's cheapness, but my conscience won't let me. We had no one to blame except ourselves. But, so help me, this fellow was tight. Many times we played in filthy uniforms because he was trying to keep down the cleaning tab.

Most of the griping on the club centered around salaries, which were much lower than any other club in the league. Cicotte, for example, had won 28 games in 1917 and still was making only $6,000 a year. Jackson, a great hitter, was earning just a little more. I had been making $4,500 a year for the past three seasons. Only one man on the club was drawing what I'd call a decent salary, Eddie Collins, who had finagled a sharp contract in coming to the Sox from the Philadelphia Athletics. He was making about $14,000 a year. Naturally, Collins was happier with Comiskey than we were.

So when the opportunity came in 1919 to pick up some easy change on the World Series, Collins, though a key man, wasn't included in our plans. Neither was Catcher Ray Schalk or Outfielder Nemo Leibold.

Where a baseball player would run a mile these days to avoid a gambler, we mixed freely. Players often bet. After the games, they would sit in lobbies and bars with gamblers, gabbing away. Most of the gamblers we knew were honorable Joes who would never think of fixing a game. They were happy just to be booking and betting.

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