The Cryptic Black Sox Scandal 1919

Jordan Tompkins, guest writer


On the night of May 8, 1893, I, John Becker, was born. I was born in Chicago, my family consisted of four siblings, a mom, and a dad. My dad was the proud owner of a huge factory called Home Goods, and my mom was a stay at home wife who catered to the house and children.

Sadly, when I was twelve years old, my dad was sitting in his very own desk at work, and an unknown man walked in and shot my dad once in the heart, and once in the head. He was rushed to the hospital, but bled out before arriving. Thus, this left my mom in charge of the factory, and in charge of five kids all on her own.

The death of my father haunted me for years to come, this involved tragic nightmares, and a huge lack of sleep for many years.When I finally grew up quite a bit, around the age of eighteen, I knew what I wanted in life, that was to find a beautiful wife, and become a Major League Baseball player.

*  *  *

In the year of 1912, I had almost finished my first year of college, and first year of college baseball. That was the year I met the most striking, most dazzling, and humble girl, named Lindsey May Gables. That same year our souls touched, and we married.

*  *  *

Just a year later the Chicago White Sox had been looking at my baseball record for pitching and batting, and hired me as the pitcher for their team. When I received this call I was happier than a baby with a juicy lollipop, but minutes later I retrieved news from my wife. . . Nothing could compare to the joy I felt when she told me we were having a baby.

*  *  *

Years went by. Lindsey and I had three more children, and my baseball career was out of this world. I thought I was the best, the richest, the fastest, the strongest there was. 1919 started off great, the Grand Canyon had just been declared and official national park, and the UPS trucking system came into play. However, during this same year, money problems started to hit me like a jack hammer on my toe, and the death of Theodore Roosevelt wasn’t any help. He died after World War I, “when wages were cut to only seventy-five percent of the normal wage cost” (The Rough). Many changes were occurring this year, not the least of which was the push for the eighteenth amendment, which sought to abolish alcoholic drinks. This was sending various people into a frenzy. By this time, I knew I had to take drastic measure. I told my best friend Joe Jackson about my money troubles, and I quickly discovered, that he and six of my fellow teammates were in the same dugout, so to speak.

Chick Gandil, one of the players, decided to call a “secret meeting on September 21, 1919 in his room at the Ansonia Hotel in New York” (Baseball). This was to discuss what we could do to resolve our money problems. Soon I arrived at this meeting. . .

Joe was the first one I saw at the meeting so I muttered,”Hello Joe.”

“Howdy do fella,” Joe responded. In his usual terribly broken English.

Chick Gandil interrupted everyone in the room with his broad, husky voice, “Hello men, it has come to our attention that we are struggling financially, and something must be done to stop this.” This is when Eddie Cicotte spoke up.

Eddie stated, “Men times are hard, and drastic measures must be taken. I know we have all worked so very hard to make it to where we are in this professional baseball league, and we also know the World Series games are coming up soon. Each and every year big quantities of money are betted on these games. Now, we have huge rivals in these games, who I am sure would love to win. . .”

Eddie was soon interrupted by “star outfielder “Shoeless” Joe” (The 1920s). Joe blurted, “Ya’ll mean tank them World Series Games for some dough?”

Eddie responded with a lengthy sigh, “Yes, I mean giving up our title as winners, and gaining money from it.”

The room was silent, taking in the idea of rigging the 1919 World Series. We were all understanding that in order to do this we had to betray our beloved team mates, and going to end a winning streak of thirty. We men had to come up with a crafty plan to make this a reality.

Joe had an incredible idea, he stated, “We must lose, by making it look like we are trying to win. John Becker, you must be the one to ensure our loss. You must throw some wicked strikes, making it seem like you are on the top of your game, and then out of nowhere sling a ball into the dirt, or the back of the player.”

Hearing these words uttered, my eyes opened wide with hesitation, my shoulders slumped, and my hands dangled in my pockets. This was the real deal. If I wanted this money, I had to tank the games with my pitches. The other seven men in the room stared at me with faces full of agony and anxiousness. Their eyes were as wide as mine, but their greed was even larger. We all knew what we must do. We must step up to the plate with steady legs and hands, showing no sign of guilt, and fully conscious of what had to be done. I had to pitch the game of my life.  The game that would change my destiny forever. We had to crack the ball with our bats right into the glove of our opponents.

Soon after all these ideas were realized the men left one by one, and I quickly followed. I hung my head in sorrow recognizing what I was doing. The next game was game one of the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.

The birds’ cooing outside my window awoke me the next morning. My hands were  trembling from the swelling anxiety mounting inside me. I arrived at the ball field to find out we were the home team. This meant I had to pitch first, and I would be the first to fix the game.

I stood at the pitchers mound holding the polished white ball with delicate stitching all around it. It rested in my sun bleached crackled glove on my left hand. My team mates surrounded me. I inhaled my last breath of innocence. I plucked the ball out of my glove, stretched my arm backwards, and flung the ball at the nervous batter. BAM! The ball struck my opponent right in the black of his left shoulder, and he let out a loud howl of pain. Part of the crowd went wild with anger, and the other sang songs of praise. These songs went like this, “John oh Johnny boy have you lost your touch?” Day’s went by and we had to rig more and more games.

*  *  *

Questions arose about wether we were being truthful about the way we were playing in the year of 1921. These rumors also reached the “press box where a number of correspondents, including Hugh Fullerton, of the Chicago Herald and Examiner and ex-player and manager, Christy Mathewson, resolved to compare notes on any plays and players that they felt were questionable” (Milner). Despite the rampant rumors, gamblers continued to wage heavily against the White Sox.

This same year, 1921, the accusations made towards me and my seven fellow teammates finally became a reality to us, and all our baseball fans. Proof was found out about us, and we were banned from many games, and struggled to win our pride back. Instead of being called the “star players of the baseball league, a new nickname came into place, The Eight Men Out” (Martinez 140).

*  *  *

Although mistakes have been made in my past, I have learned from them. These mistakes have made me a more honest man and loyal player.

Works Cited

“Baseball: The Black Sox Scandal.” American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 3:1920-1929. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Student Resources in Context. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

Martinez H., David. The Book of Baseball Literacy. David H. Martinez, 2011. Print.

Milner, Andrew. “Black Sox Scandal.” St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Detroit: Gale,   2015. Student Resources in Context. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

“The 1920s Sports: Topics in the News.” UXL American Decades. Ed. Julie L. Carnagie, et al. Vol. 3: 1920-1929. Detroit: UXL, 2003. 154-170. Student Resources in Context. Web. 27     Mar. 2016.

“The Rough Road to Normalcy, 1919-1920.” World War I and the Jazz Age. Woodbridge, CT:  Primary Source Media, 1999. American Journey. Student Resources in Context. Web 29   Mar. 2016.