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It was the afternoon before the opening of the 1919 World Series that I strolled into the lobby of the Sinton Hotel in Cincinnati to discover a man standing on a chair—his hands filled with paper money—calling for wagers on the ball games.
The man was Abe Attell, former featherweight boxing champion of the world.
I walked up close to him. He was waving big money. There were $1,000 bills between the fingers of both hands and he was yelling in a loud voice that he would cover any amount of Chicago money.
I was amazed. I never had seen anything like that before in any World Series, nor have I seen anything like it since. The man was eager to wager thousands of dollars on the underdog. I couldn't understand it. I felt that something was wrong, almost unbelievably wrong.
After the second game I ran into Sammy Pass, a young Chicago businessman who was a great White Sox fan. He told me he had bet $3,500 on the Sox and that he was as perplexed as I was. Following the first loss, he took several players back to the hotel. Lefty Williams was one of them.
"Do you know what he said to me when I told him I had bet?" Pass asked. "He said, 'Sammy, I don't think you should risk your money on us'. 'What do you mean, Lefty?' I asked. 'Isn't your arm all right?' 'Oh, my arm's all right,' he answered, 'but you know anything can happen in baseball.' "
I told Sammy to keep his eyes and ears open. Before the Series was over Sammy told me he had learned that Eddie Cicotte's landlady in Chicago had overheard a remark he made to his brother to the effect that he "didn't care what happened. I got mine."
The web began to tighten after the third game. I was just finishing work when I got a call from Kid Gleason, the White Sox manager. He asked me to come over to his hotel. When I arrived he led me into a bedroom and shut the door.
"Jim," he said, "there's something I've got to tell you."