A coward’s way out

Nash Henley, guest writer



“Please, Robbie, you have to forgive me!”

“No Uncle Joe, I was inspired by you and you let me and thousands of fans down, all for money. Now I am leaving, and don’t ever expect me to come back!”

* * *

Hi, my name is Jackson, Robert Jackson. I was born on July 24, 1896. This is my story.

It was 1910, I had just turned fourteen, and it was the day I realized I wanted to play Major League Baseball. My dream is to play for the Chicago White Sox, (Uncle Joe played for the Cleveland Naps at the time.) But soon after awhile Uncle Joe and I became rather close when I was eleven. Ever since then we’ve been best friends. I saw Uncle Joe about two to three times a month due to him traveling for games and what not. In the summer of 1912. . . my parents took a week-long trip to California, and on their drive there, they got into an accident and both pasted away. So I moved in with Uncle Joe at the age of sixteen, and man was it hard to get over my parents’ death.

* * *

In the year of 1917, I had just finished college and the Chicago White Sox was needing a pitcher.  Uncle Joe was traded to the White Sox in 1915 and put in a good word for me. So they took a look at my stats, and I became the new pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. I had always dreamed of this moment and it actually happened . . . I am playing for my favorite team ever with my Uncle Joe.

* * *

Six years had gone by since the death of my parents, there is not one day that goes by that I don’t think about them. Every game I play or have ever played, I dedicate to my parents. But their death didn’t affect my game. . . in fact, it made me better as a player. I knew that if I lost, I had let them down but if I won they were proud of me. This past year I’ve played better than I ever thought I could; I didn’t know if it was because Uncle Joe was playing by my side or what . . . but I loved it. But as time went on, money became more of a problem not just for me but for other members on the team as well. But I didn’t pay much attention to it, but man, Uncle Joe sure did.

* * *

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). I didn’t bother going, but my Uncle did and I didn’t really think too much of it. Chick was a harmless guy, or so I thought. Out of nowhere Uncle Joe started to ignore me when I would try to discuss stuff with him about the World Series coming up. Then he would leave to go practice with some guys, and every time I’d try and come he would say “no . . . you stay here Robbie and keep an eye on the old house, will ya?” It wasn’t that big of a deal, so I didn’t pay much attention to it.

* * *

It’s October 1, 1919. It’s the first game of the World Series, and I can tell Uncle Joe is a little nervous, but I wasn’t too worried because we’ve beaten the Reds plenty of times. The game ended, and I couldn’t believe what had just happened, I’d never seen our team play so sloppy. Even Uncle Joe had played terrible and that’s crazy! The score came out to be: Reds 9 – Sox 1 but knowing me, I shook it off, went back to our hotel and got some rest. The second game had rolled around, and there was no way I was losing this game. We were up by two and I just had a feeling this game was going to be a breeze. Just as I got too cocky, the Reds came back and beat us 4-2 and now I was furious. I confronted Joe about the game and asked “Why are some of our players playing so poorly?” And all he could say was “Sorry kiddo, we’ll get them next time.” So I let the topic go and focused on the next game.

* * *

We came out winning 3-0 and now I thought we were back in rhythm, but sadly I spoke to soon. The next two games we lost to the Reds, and it’s like half of the team didn’t give a damn if we won or not. We barley won game six 5-4 and I’d hope we would start to win. We won the next game 4-1 and then I thought that we had this in the bag now. But once again I had spoken too soon and we lost the last game 10-5 “Reds came away with a victory of five-games-to-three series win”(Baseball), and I have never been so disappointed in our team but mostly in myself. . . Just the thought of my parents watching me loose the series is heartbreaking, not to mention all the fans we let down. I was heartbroken for months after the series, and Uncle Joe and I didn’t talk as much as we used too, obviously that didn’t help either. . .

* * *

September had rolled around, and  I had no idea my life would change forever. A grand jury was called to investigate various allegations of gamblers invading baseball. On September 28, 1920, Uncle Joe and three other team members had confessed to throwing the 1919 World Series

in return for a bribe. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard! My Uncle Joe, the man who inspired me to play baseball and to become the best cheated the greatest sport to ever be played and to hurt the hearts of thousands of fans all for money? I was distraught at the fact that I tried so hard to bring home that Series and they threw it all away for a little money.

Our owner Mr. Comiskey suspended the eight players who were in on the scandal. I didn’t talk to Joe the entire way home; I didnt even look him in the eye I was so upset. He muttered in the car. . . “I’m sorry Robbie. . .” Man I have never seen a bigger coward in my entire life. That night I grabbed as much as I could and headed for the door, when suddenly Joe stopped me and tried to apologize to me but I ignored him. He said to me “You would have done the same if you were in my shoes.” I stopped and looked him dead in the face and said “No, cause I’m an honest man, and honest men don’t cheat something they love for money, that’s what a coward is for. . . You’re nothing but a coward, Joe!” I could tell he was nervous and shocked at what I had said. All he could say was

“Please Robbie, you have to forgive me!” I just laughed and replied with “No Joe, I was inspired by you and you let me and thousands of fans down, all for money. Now I can’t even look you in the face anymore. . . don’t ever expect me to come back!”

* * *

It’s been a little under a year since I last saw Joe and I have no regrets of leaving. I can’t live with a man who cheated me, the fans, and the greatest sport in history. . . On August 4, 1921 the new baseball commissioner banned the eight players from the game for life. Yes when I heard about it I thought to myself that’s what they deserve, but at the same time I knew how heartbroken Joe was. I knew what this game had meant to him and it was gone in an instant like he had never played it. . . Soon enough the boys got a new nickname, instead being called “star players of the baseball league, a new nickname came into place,The Eight Men Out” (Martinez 140).

Works Cited.

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

“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

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

“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