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HE KEPT BASEBALL'S BLACKEST SECRET FOR 36 YEARS....
The story of the Black Sox scandal and the fixed World Series of 1919 has been told many times in many versions. None ever bore the mark of ultimate truth, for the players involved, after their acquittal for lack of evidence, were free to tell their side of it as they saw fit. Some denied all guilt, some admitted it only partially. One of them never spoke at all: Chick Gandil, the first baseman who has been named as the original corrupter of his fellow players. Gandil left major league baseball after the suspect Series and quit the game for good after the trial in 1921, disappearing into obscurity. The story he tells now can be testified to only by himself. It presents to history a picture of a baseball team, one of the greatest ever known, divided against itself; a group of players of supreme skill but with neither honor nor scruples, trusting not even each other. The Chicago White Sox of 1919 were the climactic product of an era which baseball has, happily, left behind for good and all; an era which—after three and a half decades without a breath of scandal—is so remote that much of what Gandil says may now seem fantastic. Nonetheless, the story he has to tell belongs on the baseball record, and here it is.
About this time each year when people start getting excited about the World Series, I find myself wanting to crawl into a cave. I think you'd feel the same if you had the memories I do.
I have played in two World Series, the last time 37 years ago when I was first baseman for the Chicago White Sox. The Sox haven't been in a Series since. We played the Cincinnati Reds and had a hell of a ball club, the best I've ever seen. But people didn't remember us afterward for our playing. They remembered us only as the "Black Sox."
A lot of you young readers have probably heard of the Black Sox scandal from your dads or granddads. It was some mess. Eight of us Sox were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series to Cincy. We were taken into court in Chicago, tried and acquitted. But organized baseball banned us for life.
To this day I feel that we got what we had coming. But there are certain things about the Series that have never been told and which I would like to clear up right now.
I'm an old man by any standards. I'm going to be 69 in January. I have worked the past 35 years as a plumber, mostly in Oakland, California. Now I'm about to retire. The wife and I plan to take a small place in the country, out in Napa Valley. We've been married 48 years.
A lot of stuff has been written by newspaper and magazine people about the Black Sox scandal, but most of it has been rumor and guesswork because none of us involved ever told our story. Four of the Black Sox were supposed to have made secret confessions with immunity before the Cook County grand jury in 1920, but they all denied the statements later and refused to talk. When we went on trial in 1921, all of us stood on our rights and dummied up.
Why should I wait until now to tell the real story of the Black Sox? One by one the Black Sox players have been taking the secret to their graves. Joe Jackson is gone, so are Fred McMullin and Buck Weaver. I'm sure I could go the rest of my life easily without talking. But after thinking it over—and against the better judgment of my wife—I asked myself, why not? It should be on the record. So here goes.
To start with, I think I should recall to you the main characters involved.