Hey, want to see how legendary scandals are made?

Black Sock researcher Jacob Pomrenke (h/t CBS Sports‘ Matt Snyder, Deadspin‘s Tim Marchman) gave us all quite the historical reminder with this video. 

Snyder explains to whom we owe our gratitude:

From Dawson City Museum and Historical Society Collection as well as Library and Archives Canada comes some actual video footage of the notorious 1919 World Series (or the “world’s series” as it was known at the time) between the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds.

The somewhat blurry images are from a scandal that not only rocked the baseball-loving nation nearly a century ago but also spawned a great deal of modern-day pop culture.

From Eliot Asinof‘s Eight Men Out to a passing line in The Godfather II, the scandal continued to make a mark well after 1919. 

As noted, and for the uninitiated, the Chicago White Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds in eight games, which is covered in an ESPN Classic article, breaking down each chapter of the then-budding scandal. 

What’s really quite interesting is something Marchman noticed, giving a great deal of weight to silent images. 

As you may recall if you’ve read the shoddily researched book Eight Men Out or seen the well-done John Sayles movie based on it, one of the ringleaders of the scheme to throw the World Series at the behest of a gambling syndicate was ace Eddie Cicotte, the only player smart enough to demand his payoff upfront. (He got $10,000, placed under his pillow on the eve of the Series. That’s about $137,000 in today’s money, though it might be better thought of as twice his 1919 salary.) He famously hit the first batter he faced in the first game of the Series as a signal that the fix was on and then allowed six runs, something he’d done only twice in 35 starts that year.

Marchman encouraged viewers to pay close attention to the mark three-minutes, 20 seconds into the video, when Cicotte gets blasted for five runs. 

Out of context, the video is already an amazing look back in time, taking fans to a dramatically different sports landscape. Adding specifics really makes this a poignant look anybody can enjoy. 

We don’t get a thorough look at the eight-game debacle, but we do get to see Cicotte amble about the mound as one run after another scores, which is really quite a powerful image. 

The tale seems destined to grow, continuing to add to the mystique of some of the then-banned players like “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. A video like this is exactly the kind of wonderful glimpse that will keep it going. 

Nearly a century removed from the scandal, we can appreciate it as a part of the game. Thanks to some brilliant archiving, we have a new connection to the story.


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