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
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
To start with, I
think I should recall to you the main characters involved.