There Was Suspicion Of Scandal A Year Before The Black Sox

Sports and athletic competition have been a part of societies since ancient times. Though no one knows exactly when sports began, they have long been an important part of human culture (per Britannica). Today, sports like basketball, football, hockey, and baseball are massive industries that draw talent from all across the world.

Though sports were originally based on fair and sometimes friendly competition, over time, that changed. As sports became more organized, they went from amiable fun and games to money-making businesses. As often happens when business meets pleasure, things can get a little messy. Indeed, the world of organized sports is definitely no stranger to scandal. Some of the most controversial moments in sports history include the likes of Rosie Ruiz and the Boston Marathon, Floyd Landis doping during the Tour de France, and Spygate (per Bleacher Report). However, one sport that has seen its fair share of scandal is baseball.

1919 World Series

According to History, the Chicago White Sox lost the 1919 World Series. Allegedly, they did it on purpose. Not only did they supposedly throw the entire series, but they also did it for money. White Sox first baseman C. Arnold "Chick" Gandil reportedly met with an unsavory gambler named Joseph "Sport" Sullivan to chat about the possibility of his team tanking the series. Though skeptical about whether or not it would work, Gandil convinced a few of his teammates to join him, and they conspired to lose the championship in exchange for $100,000.

Suspicion arose even before the World Series started due to the fact that bets were starting to swing from the favored White Sox to the underdog Cincinnati Reds. More began to speculate that something was amiss when the Sox lost the first game 9-1 (per History). When the players had not been paid by the time they reached Game 5, the Sox players decided to rally and try to win. Their effort fell short, and the Cincinnati Reds won their first World Series title.

Due to the suspicious activities and speculation surrounding the series, an investigation was conducted that revealed the plot. The involved players became known as the "Black Sox" and were indicted on conspiracy charges. They were found not guilty under suspicious circumstances, but their baseball careers were over, with their names forever tied to one of the most disgraceful moments in the sport's history.

The 1918 World Series Had Many Of Its Own Issues

Though the 1919 World Series was infamous for its wrongdoings, there was also some suspicious activity during the 1918 championship. The series featured the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, and the Red Sox defeated the Cubs 4-2 (per ESPN). However, according to NBC Sports, there might have been more to the Cubs' loss than initially thought. As the years went on, rumors began to swirl that the 1918 World Series inspired the actions of the "Black Sox" the following year because the Cubs did it first ... and got away with it.

More than a century after the event, there is no hard evidence the Cubs cheated. Most of that information has been lost to history, but in the Chicago History Museum, there is a document that could support that theory. This documentation is a deposition taken during the investigation of the 1919 World Series, where one of the former White Sox players threw suspicion on the Chicago Cubs. Particularly, the player claimed that gamblers might have offered the team $10,000 to lose the series. In addition, a dairy from Harry Grabiner — who was an aide of White Sox owner Charles Comiskey — was discovered in 1963 and suggested that former Cubs pitcher Gene Packard was behind the purported fixing of the 1918 World Series.

Although no definitive proof of the scandal exists, some are fairly certain the series was rigged. "It seems more likely that there would have been a fix than there would not have been," said John Thorn, the official historian for Major League Baseball (via The New York Times).