1919 World Series
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The 1919 World Series series is most remembered for the Black Sox Scandal. This article will examine the World Series as it was played on the field. The article on the scandal provides information on the conspiracy to fix the Series' outcome, how this affected what happened on the field, and the aftermath of the scandal which shook Major League Baseball to its foundation.
On the field, the underdog Cincinnati Reds defeated the prestigious Chicago White Sox by five games to three to earn their first World Championship. However, the team's achievement has been diminished by the fact that eight of the White Sox players were later accused of accepting money to fix the outcome of the Series, and were eventually all permanently banned from organized baseball. To this day, there is still considerable debate as to whether or how much the accused players tried to deliberately lose the Series, and which team would have won had the games been played entirely on the level.
The Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox of 1919 were one of baseball's glamour teams, with many of the same players the Sox had used to win the 1917 World Series over the New York Giants in a convincing manner, by four games to two. They had fallen to sixth place in the American League in 1918, largely as a result to losing their greatest player "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, along with a few others, to the World War I war effort. Team owner Charlie Comiskey fired manager Pants Rowland after the 1918 season, replacing him with 20-year Major League veteran William "Kid" Gleason, who was getting his first managerial assignment after a stint as a coach for Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics. The White Sox were back on top of the American League in 1919, finishing with a record of 88-52, 3½ games in front of the Cleveland Indians, who closed out the year on a very strong note after replacing manager Lee Fohl with star outfielder Tris Speaker.
Joe Jackson was the unchallenged star of the team. The left fielder hit .351 that season, fourth in the American League and also finished in the League's top five in slugging percentage, runs batted in, total bases and base hits. He was not alone on the team, however, as second baseman Eddie Collins, one of the greatest players to ever play the position, was still going strong in his early 30's, hitting .319 with a .400 on base percentage at the top of the line-up. Right Fielder Nemo Leibold was another .300 hitter, hitting .302 while scoring 81 runs, in a line-up that hardly had a weak spot. First baseman Chick Gandil hit .290, third baseman Buck Weaver was at .296, and center fielder Oscar "Happy" Felsch hit .275 while tying with Jackson for the team lead in home runs with 7. Even catcher Ray Schalk, a typical Deadball Era "good field, no hit" catcher, hit .282 that year, and shortstop Swede Risberg was not an automatic out with his .256 average and 38 runs batted in. Manager Gleason even had two good hitters on the bench, outfielder Shano Collins and infielder Fred McMullin, who were both veterans of the 1917 campaign.
On the mound, the White Sox depended on a pair of aces, backed by a very promising rookie. Knuckleballer Eddie Cicotte had become one of the American League's best pitchers after turning 30; he had won 28 games for the 1917 Champions, and after an off-year in 1918, had come back with an outstanding 29-7 record, leading the league in Wins and finishing second in Earned Run Average to the great Walter Johnson, 1.49 to 1.82. He was backed by Claude "Lefty" Williams, who had posted a 23-11 record with a 2.64 ERA. 26-year-old rookie Dickie Kerr only started 17 games among his 39 mound appearances, but maintained a solid 13-7 record with a 2.88 ERA. The back end of the staff comprised Urban "Red" Faber, who had beaten the Giants three times in the 1917 World Series but had had an off-year in 1919, finishing 11-9, 3.83 in 20 starts, and 34-year-old veteran Grover Lowdermilk, who was 5-5, 2.79, after being obtained from the St. Louis Browns in mid-season.
All was not well in the White Sox camp, however. Tensions between many of the players and owner Comiskey were very high, with the players complaining of his skinflint ways, which are reflected in two urban legends: the first is that Comiskey instructed Gleason to sit down Cicotte at the end of the year in order that he would not win 30 games, a milestone which would have earned him a sizable bonus (as Cicotte led the league in both complete games and innings pitched, any additional rest he would have received before the World Series started would have been amply justified); the second was that the team was known derisively as the Black Sox because Comiskey would not pay to have their uniforms washed regularly. Neither legend is substantiated, but they provide a picture of an unhappy team in spite of its success, whose manager was unable to act as buffer between players and ownership.
The Cincinnati Reds
In contrast to the White Sox, the 1919 Cincinnati Reds were upstarts. They had finished no higher than third since 1900, achieving that much success only twice, in 1904, and in 1918, when even this last placing put them 15½ games back of the league-leading Chicago Cubs. Yet, in 1919, they won the league pennant handily. Under new manager Pat Moran, best known as the leader of another bunch of unlikely visitors to the World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies of 1915 who had given the Boston Red Sox a run for their money in the World Series, Cincinnati finished 9 games in front of the New York Giants, with a 96-44 record, leaving every other team in the league at least 20 games back.
The Reds' greatest star was center fielder Edd Roush, who led the league with a .321 batting average and, like the White Sox's Jackson, placed in the top five in most important hitting categories except for home runs. Third baseman Heinie Groh was the other great hitter on the team, contributing a .310 average with a .392 on-base percentage and 79 runs scored. First baseman Jake Daubert, a two-time National League batting champion with Brooklyn earlier in the decade, also scored 79 runs, with a .276 average and great defense, while catcher Ivey Wingo hit .273. The rest of the team was unheralded, including second baseman Morrie Rath, a .264 hitter with no power but good on-base skills, and shortstop Larry Kopf, a .270 singles hitter. The rest of the outfield was a definite weak spot, as former Phillies star Sherry Magee hit only .215 in 56 games in left field, sharing playing time with converted pitcher Rube Bressler, a .206 hitter, while in right field Earle "Greasy" Neale only hit .242 with little power. This would prompt Moran to start a rookie, Pat Duncan, in left field during the World Series, despite his lack of experience, and his .244 batting average during the season.
The Reds' pitching was universally solid however. The team's big three included Hod Eller (19-9, 2.39), Dutch Ruether (19-6, 1.82) and Slim Sallee (21-7, 2.06), all prominent among the league leaders in various categories. They were backed by three other pitchers who were almost as successful: Jimmy Ring was only 10-9, but with a 2.26 ERA; Ray Fisher was 14-5, 2.17 and pitched five shutouts, while Cuban Dolf Luque was 10-3, 2.63. It was a deep and talented staff, a definite advantage in a Series whose format had just been changed from best of seven to best of nine.
Game One: October 1
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|W: Dutch Ruether (1-0) L: Eddie Cicotte (0-1)|
- attendance: 30,511
The first game began at 3pm on October 1st, in Cincinnati's Crosley Field, then called Redland Field, with Eddie Cicotte on the mound for Chicago, opposing Dutch Ruether of the Reds. The White Sox failed to score in the top of the 1st inning. In the bottom of that inning Cicotte hit the Reds' lead-off hitter Morrie Rath in the back with just his second pitch, which was later revealed as a prearranged signal to gambler Arnold Rothstein that the game was going to be thrown. Jake Daubert followed with a single, with Rath advancing to third base, and Heinie Groh hit a sacrifice fly to give Cincinnati the early lead.
However, the game remained close for a while, due in part to some excellent defense from the White Sox. In fact, Chicago tied the score in the top of the 2nd inning when Joe Jackson reached on a two-base error by shortstop Larry Kopf; Chick Gandil then singled him in. In the 4th, however, Cicotte gave up a sequence of hits, including a two-out, two-run triple to opposing pitcher Ruether, as the Reds scored five times to break a 1-1 tie. Cicotte was replaced by rookie relief pitcher Roy Wilkinson, who had a total of five major league appearances to his name, but the damage was done, and the Reds had an insurmountable 6-1 lead. The Reds added two runs off Wilkinson in the 8th and one more off Grover Lowdermilk in the 9th to make the final score 9-1.
Daubert, Greasy Neale, and winning pitcher Ruether all had three hits for the Reds, with Ruether driving in three runs on his way to a complete game six-hitter.
Game Two: October 2
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|W: Slim Sallee (1-0) L: Lefty Williams (0-1)|
- attendance: 26,690
Claude "Lefty" Williams, the starting pitcher for the White Sox in Game 2, was not as obvious as Cicotte in grooving pitches to his opponents. Facing the Reds' Slim Sallee, he pitched well in the game's first three innings. The White Sox started the 4th by wasting an excellent opportunity against Sallee: Buck Weaver and Joe Jackson led off with consecutive singles, while Happy Felsch advanced both by one base with a sacrifice bunt. Chick Gandil then hit a ground ball to first baseman Jake Daubert, who threw home to cut off Weaver for the second out. Swede Risberg then popped up to end the threat.
In Cincinnati's half of the inning, Williams walked Morrie Rath, then after Daubert's sacrifice bunt, walked Heinie Groh in turn, and then gave up a run-scoring single to Edd Roush. After Roush was caught trying to steal second base, Williams issued his third walk of the inning, to rookie left fielder Pat Duncan, who had inherited the position in spite of having less than 100 at bats of major league experience, because of Sherry Magee and Rube Bressler's lack of production. Larry Kopf followed with a two-run triple, and the Reds were up three to nothing.
After that, Williams went back to looking unhittable, giving up only one more run in the 6th inning. The White Sox finally got on the board with two unearned runs in the 7th. Risberg hit a one-out single, and Ray Schalk followed with a single of his own. However, right fielder Greasy Neale let the ball get past him, allowing Risberg to come all the way home, and then Groh was unable to handle Neale's throw to third base, attempting to cut down Schalk, allowing the Sox catcher to follow his teammate home. The White Sox wasted another good opportunity in the 9th inning, when Gandil led off with a single but was immediately erased by Risberg's double play grounder. Schalk followed with another single, but Fred McMullin, pinch hitting for Williams, hit a ground ball to Rath at second to end the game. In spite of out-hitting the Reds 10 to 4, and in spite of three Reds errors to the White Sox's one, Cincinnati had won the game 4-2. Williams, who usually had very good control, had walked six opponents while striking out only one, digging his own grave. The Reds had taken a two-game to nothing lead over the heavily-favored White Sox with the series moving back to Chicago.
Game Three: October 3
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|W: Dickie Kerr (1-0) L: Ray Fisher (0-1)|
- attendance: 29,126
Rookie Dickie Kerr, started Game 3 for the White Sox at Comiskey Park, facing veteran Ray Fisher for the Reds. Both teams made one change to their line-ups, with the Reds giving catcher Ivey Wingo a rest and inserting light-hitting veteran Bill Rariden in his place. For his part, Kid Gleason replaced lead-off hitter Shano Collins with Nemo Leibold, who was coming off an excellent season as the team's regular right fielder. The game belonged to Kerr, however, as he pitched a magnificent three-hit complete game shutout to give the White Sox their first victory.
The White Sox scored all the runs they needed in the 2nd inning, when Joe Jackson led off with a single. Fisher misplayed Happy Felsch's ground ball, putting runners on second and third with none out and Chick Gandil drove them both in with a single. They added a third run in the 4th, when Swede Risberg tripled and was driven in by Ray Schalk's bunt single. Larry Kopf led off the Reds 5th with a single, but that was the last base hit of the game, as Fisher, relief pitcher Dolf Luque, and Kerr took turns mowing down their opponents after that. The White Sox had cut Cincinnati's lead to one game.
Game Four: October 4
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|W: Jimmy Ring (1-0) L: Eddie Cicotte (0-2)|
- attendance: 34,363
Eddie Cicotte was again Chicago's starter for the fourth game, and he was determined not to look as bad as he had in the first. For the first four innings he and Reds pitcher Jimmy Ring, a surprise starter given Hod Eller was available, matched zeroes. Ivey Wingo was back as the Reds' catcher, while Kid Gleason kept intact the line-up that had brought him victory the previous day. Cicotte made the last out of the 2nd inning with the bases loaded for Chicago, although that is nothing unusual for a lifetime .185 hitter. With one out in the 5th, Cicotte fielded a slow roller, but threw wildly to first for a two-base error. The next man up, Larry Kopf, singled to center and Cicotte first cut off the throw home and then fumbled the ball, allowing the run to score. When he gave up a double to the next batter, Greasy Neale, the score was 2-0 - enough of a lead for Ring, who threw a three-hit shutout of his own. The Reds led the Series 3-1.
Game Five: October 6
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|W: Hod Eller (1-0) L: Lefty Williams (0-2)|
- attendance: 34,379
Game 5 was delayed by rain for a day, and when it got under way both Lefty Williams and Reds pitcher Hod Eller were excellent. The Reds were using their fifth consecutive different starting pitcher, a tribute to the depth of their pitching staff, while back-up Bill Rariden was back behind the plate.
By the 6th inning, neither starting pitcher had allowed a runner past first base, before Eller hit a dying quail that fell between Happy Felsch and Joe Jackson in left-center field. Felsch's throw was off line, and the opposing pitcher was safe at third. Leadoff hitter Morrie Rath hit a single over the drawn-in infield and Eller scored. After Jake Daubert bunted Rath to second, Heinie Groh walked and Edd Roush hit a triple - the beneficiary of some more doubtful defense from Felsch - to score two more runs; White Sox catcher Ray Schalk, frustrated by all the sub-standard play by his teammates, got into a heated argument with home plate umpire Cy Rigler over his calling Groh safe on the close play at the plate, and was ejected. Little-used back-up Byrd Lynn had to come into the game, and Pat Duncan followed with a sacrifice fly scoring Roush for a 4-0 Reds lead.
Kid Gleason lifted Williams in favor of pinch hitter Eddie Murphy in the 8th, and Erskine Mayer, who had pitched for Pat Moran's Phillies in the 1915 World Series, was brought in to pitch the 9th; he allowed Roush to a score another run for the Reds, after having reached on an error by Eddie Collins. In the mean-time, Eller was pitching very well; in fact in the 2nd and 3rd innings, he struck out the six White Sox batters he faced, ending the game with nine strikeouts and a three-hit shutout, the Reds' second in a row. Under the World Series format prevailing from 1905 to 1918, the Reds would have been proclaimed World Champions there and then. Under the Series newly-expanded format, they were one game away from the World Championship.
Game Six: October 7
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|W: Dickie Kerr (2-0) L: Jimmy Ring (1-1)|
- attendance: 32,006
The teams returned to Cincinnati for Game 6. Dickie Kerr, starting for the White Sox, was not as dominant as in Game 3, while Dutch Ruether was on the mound for the Reds, six days after winning the Series' opener with a complete game. Chicago manager Kid Gleason was still struggling to get production out of the lead-off spot, and once again benched Nemo Leibold, inserting Shano Collins back into the line-up. The Reds' Pat Moran was unwilling to tinker with a winning formula, and left Bill Rariden behind the plate, leaving the better-hitting Ivey Wingo on the bench.
The Reds jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the 3rd when Jake Daubert singled and then stole second base with two outs; the next hitter, Edd Roush, was hit by a pitch and rookie Pat Duncan followed with a two-run double. In the 4th, Greasy Neale hit a lead-off triple, and after one out pitcher Ruether continued with the devastating hitting he had displayed in Game 1 by hitting a run-scoring double. Morrie Rath followed with a ground ball that shortstop Swede Risberg let past him, and the Reds were up 4-0.
Left for dead, Chicago fought back however. In the 5th inning, Risberg and Ray Schalk walked, then Kerr hit a single to load the bases. Risberg was unable to score on Shano Collins' fly ball to center field, but did so when Eddie Collins followed with a fly ball to center of his own. In the 5th, Buck Weaver hit a lead-off double, and Joe Jackson and Happy Felsch followed with a single and a double respectively, cutting the lead to 4-3. Dutch Ruether was lifted in favor of Game 4 winner Jimmy Ring; Ring retired the next two White Sox batters, with Felsch advancing to third, then Schalk followed with a game-tying single.
The score remained 4-4 as the game went into extra innings, as the Reds stranded base runners in the 7th and 8th innings, while ending both the 6th and 9th with a runner caught stealing. In the top of the 10th, Chick Gandil drove in Weaver with a single to make it 5-4 for Chicago, and Kerr closed it out with a rare one-two-three inning to record his - and Chicago's - second win.
Game Seven: October 8
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|W: Eddie Cicotte (1-2) L: Slim Sallee (1-1)|
- attendance: 13,923
Despite the rumors that were already circulating over Cicotte's prior performances, Chicago manager Kid Gleason showed faith in his ace for Game 7 - not that he had much choice, given the top-heaviness of the White Sox's pitching staff. This time, the knuckleballer did not let him down.
Chicago scored early and, for once, it was Cincinnati that made errors in the field. Shano Collins led off the game with a single - a rare presence on base for someone in Chicago's lead-off slot. Eddie Collins bunted him to second and Joe Jackson drove him in with a two-out single. Shano Collins again led the 3rd with a single, and once again, Jackson drove him in with two outs, doubling the White Sox's lead. In the fifth, Eddie Collins singled with one out, but Heinie Groh and Morrie Rath committed back-to-back errors on ground balls to load the bases. Happy Felsch singled two runs in, and Reds starter Slim Sallee was lifted for Ray Fisher, with the Reds trailing 4-0.
The Reds threatened only briefly in the 6th, when Pat Duncan drove in Groh with Cincinnati's only run of the game. Dolf Luque pitched one-hit ball over the game's last four innings for the Reds, but his teammates could not mount a threat against Cicotte. They made a last gasp effort with two outs in the 9th, when Ivey Wingo and pinch hitter Sherry Magee hit consecutive singles. However, Cicotte got Rath to fly out harmlessly to right field for the final out, and bring the Series back to four games to three in favor of the Reds.
Game Eight: October 9
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|W: Hod Eller (2-0) L: Lefty Williams (0-3)|
|HR: Joe Jackson CHI|
- attendance: 32,930
With the White Sox victories in Games 6 and 7 having brought the team back from the brink of defeat, the gamblers who had staked a lot of money on an upset win by the Reds were getting nervous. The night before the eighth game, Lefty Williams, who was due to pitch, reportedly was visited by an anonymous hitman who threatened to kill his wife if the outcome of the game was in doubt after the 1st inning. Whatever Williams had been told made its impression.
In the 1st inning, throwing nothing but mediocre fastballs, Williams gave up four straight one-out hits to yield three runs before Gleason replaced him with relief pitcher Big Bill James, who allowed one of Williams' baserunners to score. James, who had pitched for three different teams that season, including only five games for Chicago, continued to be ineffective, allowing the Reds to build a 9-1 lead by the 6th inning, when he was replaced by Roy Wilkinson after allowing the first two Reds batters to reach base.
Although the Sox rallied for four runs in the 8th, the Reds wound up 10-5 victors (the White Sox's other run was the result of Joe Jackson's 3rd-inning home run - the only homer of the Series) to clinch the Series 5 games to 3. Hod Eller pitched a complete game to earn his second victory, while Williams was saddled with his third loss, a feat that would only be replicated - with no hint of dishonesty this time - when New York Yankees reliever George Frazier also ended up on the losing end of the score three times in the 1981 World Series.
The White Sox were defeated on October 9th and throughout the country rumors were rife that the games had been thrown. Journalist Hugh Fullerton of the Chicago Herald and Examiner, disgusted by the display of ineptitude with which the White Sox had "thrown" the series, immediately wrote that the Series should never be played again.
The 1919 World series was one of the most historically important World Series ever played, along with the 1903 World Series which created the pattern for future series. The 1919 Series could easily have been the last one to be played, given the disgust over the unholy gambling business that took place around the games. However, the firm reaction of newly-appointed Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis was able to restore the public's faith in the fairness of futures series.
Apart from the scandal, the series was also important for being the last one of the Deadball Era: the home run played almost no role in the eight games, something that would never be true from that point forward. In spite of the tainted nature of the results, it also raised tremendous public interest, indicating that major league baseball had survived the shock of World War I with its popularity unscathed; it would only grow exponentially in future years.
- William A. Cook: The 1919 World Series: What Really Happened ?, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2001. ISBN 978-0-7864-1069-9
- Susan Dellinger: Red Legs and Black Sox: Edd Roush and the Untold Story of the 1919 World Series, Emmis Books, Cincinnati, OH, 2006.
- Charles Fountain: The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2015. ISBN 978-0199795130
- Rick Huhn: "The 1919 World Series: A Recap", in Jacob Pomrenke, ed.: Scandal on the South Side: The 1919 Chicago White Sox, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2015, pp. 281-288. ISBN 978-1-933599-95-3
- Joseph L. Reichler: "The Black Sox Scandal", in The World Series: A 75th Anniversary, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 1978, pp. 142-147.
- Bruce A. Rubenstein: Chicago in the World Series, 1903-2005: The Cubs and White Sox in Championship Play, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2006.
- Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns: "An Awful Thing To Do", in Baseball: An Illustrated History, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 1994, pp. 133-145.
- Chicago Tribune coverage of the final game and rumors of a thrown Series
- Pathé Newsreel Footage from the 1919 World Series
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