The 1919 Black Sox scandal is unarguably one of the worst moments in all of baseball history. It ended the careers of many all-time great players—players who would have been first ballot Hall of Famers who were forced to retire from the game.

The mastermind behind this was first baseman Chick Gandil, helped by professional gambler Joseph Sullivan.

This incident included the great “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, a baseball legend and an icon. For those of you who do not know of that sad time in baseball, let me give you a breakdown.

In 1919, after the war-shortened 1918 season, the White Sox were about to bounce back from a terrible 57-67 season that saw them 17 games behind the AL leaders, the Boston Red Sox, and without many of their players including their star, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

With all their players back, they were ready to make an impact. The team would end up with an AL best 88-52 record. They entered the World Series against the 96-44 Reds and despite the Reds’ better record, were predicted as the clear favorites to win.

However, not too long before the series began, reports began coming in that gamblers were betting heavily against the White Sox.

This caused a big stir and many began to suspect that there was foul play and that the series was fixed. However, there was no conclusive evidence and no public accusations or statements on the subject were issued.

For the first time, the World Series would be in the best-of-nine format to earn more money. The format would not change back until the 1922 World Series.

The first game of the series featured the Sox ace Eddie “Knuckles” Cicotte, who had won 29 games that year (he also took $10,000 dollars the night before this game). Cicotte only pitched four innings, but gave up six runs in the process, including a five-run fourth inning.

The game would end up being a complete blowout as the Reds defeated the White Sox 9-1.

Game two would also be a Reds win and they would now have a 2-0 lead in the series and well on their way to their first World Series Championship.

The only other game worth mentioning would be the third game in which White Sox pitcher Dickie Kerr pitched a complete game shutout for a 3-0 win.

The next games went “back and forth” in an attempt to make the fix less obvious and because the players weren’t receiving the money promised to them.

Eventually, however, the Reds would win the series in eight games following a 10-5 blowout in the final game.

The rumours of the fix would run wild through the baseball world and a grand jury was called to investigate in September of the following year.

The first to admit involvement were “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte. Ultimately, eight players on the White Sox would be banned from the professional game of baseball.

Later on, many of the involved players would speak up and defend “Shoeless” Joe and admit that he was never at any of their meetings and had no part in the fix. This is further supported by the fact that he was illiterate and only took money when his family was threatened.

Nonetheless, most of you are wondering why I am bringing this up now, all these years after it happened. Well, because, we often talk about steroids and how many players had their careers ruined by them and how they should not be allowed into the Hall of Fame.

Well, I wanted to bring this scandal up because two all-time greats in Eddie Cicotte and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson were affected by this series and denied from playing the game ever again as well as their places in the Hall of Fame.

To give perspective, Jackson is third all time in batting average with .356 and Cicotte is 98th all time in wins for a pitcher after only 15 years in the league, many of which were shortened seasons.

All of the players involved are now deceased and it is doubtful any of them will ever see the Hall of Fame.

I don’t want you to think I am defending men like Cicotte because what they did to the game tarnished it for many years. Although it is rarely talked about now, this was most likely the worst moment in the history of America’s pastime.

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