The 1919 World Series centennial reaches its end, but mythbusting remains

One hundred year ago on Thursday, the Cincinnati Reds completed their upset of the Chicago White Sox with a 10-5 victory at Comiskey Park. Lefty Williams never gave the White Sox a chance, and Kid Gleason pulled the plug on him early. Williams departed after giving up four consecutive one-out hits to fall behind 3-0.

Williams, who along with seven of his teammates would be permanently banned from baseball from conspiring to throw the Series, said in grand jury testimony that he wasn’t trying to lose this one. By then, enough damage from the double-crossing had accumulated that it was impossible to tell anymore.

As the tainted series’ centennial unfolded, the people doing the good work of researching the Black Sox Scandal have received plenty of publicity for their mythbusting efforts.

Jacob Pomrenke, chairman of SABR’s Black Sox Scandal committee and friend of the podcast, is the point person of it all. A story in The Athletic traces the origin of the Black Sox Committee, which Gene Carney spearheaded before his death.

The New York Times also highlighted the more correct version of the 1919 Series in the form of a column by John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s historian. He digs into the gritty context of baseball and America at that time, noting that there wasn’t a whole lot of innocence to lose, and Babe Ruth provided a helluva salve regardless.

And here’s Pomrenke doing all the on-camera talking on PBS NewsHour this week:

It’s unfortunate that it ends with John Sayles, the director of the movie version of “Eight Men Out,” slightly knocking SABR’s research with “Well their sources have agendas, too,” but at least SABR’s work gets the majority of the airtime.

The good news is that the movie is more than 30 years old, and at least in one man’s opinion, it’s not a must-see film (I share Roger Ebert’s opinion that the film doesn’t do much to distinguish the players from each other, even though I knew who all of them were). Having spent a lot of time reading SABR’s Black Sox research, it’s hard for me to tell how close they’re coming to pulling even with the popular version of the story, but I’d like to think their work will eventually prevail, even if it takes a couple more decades.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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You know that Dave Chappelle skit where he defends Michael Jackson in court because “He made Thriller…..Thriller…”.

That’s me with Shoeless Joe “He hit .400…..400….”


well the myth may persist but at least the Sox pr department did not try to commemorate it like the idiotic recognition of the “disco demolition night”.