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Thread: Myths of the Black Sox

  1. #1
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    Myths of the Black Sox

    I know I know just what we need another Black sox trial. But in this one lets try something different. Lets try and make this a warehouse of information on the black sox. Let us try and keep away from saying such and such happened therefore they are guilty and innocent and instead focus on the details. Whether they are credible or not. Whether or not they are actually true or theories and viewpoints that have been talked about so long that they have become the truth. If you wish to use some of these myths in a debate such as I think he is guilty because of myth #1 then please do so in another thread. We have many here on the Sox and anyone of them could house your argument without jumping topic. Let us just keep this to debating the myths.

    I'll start it off with some of the myths:

    1: Black Sox named because Comiskey wouldn't pay laundry bill, wanted players to, refused, uniforms got dirtier and dirtier press started calling them the Black Sox.
    Now so far I haven't found any primary sources that can actually verify this view. The first instance of the phrase Black Sox and pertaining to this team is after the story of the fix broke. Doesn't mean it isn't right, I'm still waiting on a few contacts to come through but I think this story is dubious.

    2: Joe Jackson asks to be benched before the series

    Not saying it isn't true but where are the primary sources. If I am reading Carney right the first time this story surfaces is around 1960 and Joe has been dead for awhile. In neither the GJ testimony nor the 1924 trial does Joe Jackson say I asked to be benched. At no time I believe is their every an interview in which Joe says I asked to be benched. Only after he is dead does this story surface. According to Carney neither Asinof or Frommer could cite sources for their view on this, nor does Asinof either say or remember exactly where he read that Joe asked to be bench. He just encountered it somewhere.

    3: Joe Jackson never touched the money once he got it
    According to Kate Jackson own testimony it was used before the 1924 trial. If he donated money after his death it wasn't the 5,000 dollars he got from 1919 it was money he had. Kate send she spent money on Joes sister who was sick. Carney makes the assumption that it was all spent on his sister and none on themselves. Perhaps he has more information then he printed but from what he printed I cannot make that assumption.


    4. Eddie Cicotte was snubbed out of a 30 win bonus by Comiskey who benched him at the end of the season to prevent paying him a bonus

    For starters Eddie did have a chance to make 30 wins but he was unable to do so. Secondly the mysterious absence of the starts at the end of the year is explained by the fact that he hurt his arm. With even Eddie telling reporters that during and after the time off. It wasn't Comiskey benching him for those couple of weeks but Eddie's arm keeping him off the rubber. Secondly the bonus theory was not one that was told by Eddie. I can find no primary sources that actually have him saying that or the bonus theory being told around the time of the fix. Again it is a theory told much much later on. Finally and probably most convincing to me is the HoF has in its possession records that tracked players salaries. A recorded history of what they were being paid, by whom, for how long, and what the bonuses were. On Eddies record there is no record of a bonus ever existing in either 1917 or 1919 or in any other year.

    5. Comiskey was a cheap SOB who paid his players peanuts
    Comiskey in fact had the highest payroll in the game, a fact that Carney presents. He had 3 players who were the highest paid for their position in the game.



    Feel free to add other myths you wish to discuss or discovered were not true. Things like the triples or attendance or "say it ain't so Joe" .
    Last edited by Ubiquitous; 05-07-2006 at 11:04 AM.

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    If Collins was the highest paid 2B at $15K, and Schalk was the highest paid catcher, at around $9K, who was the 3rd highest paid at their position?

    Also it is quite possible to have 3 players paid adequately and the others not paid well at all. I think that part of the 'MYTH' requires more/better substantiation, in order to show that the owner wasn't cheap.

    In other words, 3 players are not a team. In order to substantiate the debunking, we need to see more information. In fact, 3 well paid players may well work AGAINST the others being compensated adequately. To assert that his payroll was the highest in the MLs, STILL doesn't mean he paid his OTHER players 'right'. Needs considerably more information to assert this as a proper, justified debunking.

    Bill Burgess

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    Buck Weaver was the highest paid third basemen in the game.

    Who else deserves to be paid well? Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte right? After that there really is no one else that deserves it. Either because of youth, performance, or service time. Joe never signed a contract with Comiskey until after the 1919 season. Eddie set his own price level far below top pay and no real reason why it would be up there. He had a poor 1918 season so why would Comiskey be inclined to give Eddie top pay when he is A) going to be 35 and b)pitched poorly (or not as elite) in 1918?

    As research cited in Carney's book says, the White Sox had the highest payroll in the game. As Carney himself states Comiskey was not cheap by the standards of the day or compared to his fellow owners.

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    I recently I got an email back from Carney about the black sox name. Unfortunately he too has run across the same stories I have with no primary sources to verify its use. I think he is getting some others on it as well to trace its roots.

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    Did Comiskey make them pay for the laundering of thier uniforms?
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    This article would seem to indicate that the press either didn't know or didnt report the laundering issue until after the trial started.





    Source: Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963). Chicago, Ill.: Jul 12, 1921. p. 3
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    Great tidbit. I can see how the myth started taking shape,

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    What could .50 cents buy you in 1919?

    I'm guessing at least a decent dinner.
    The Cuervo Gold, the fine Columbian, make tonight a wonderful thing.

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    a baseball ticket

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous

    1: Black Sox named because Comiskey wouldn't pay laundry bill, wanted players to, refused, uniforms got dirtier and dirtier press started calling them the Black Sox.
    Now so far I haven't found any primary sources that can actually verify this view. The first instance of the phrase Black Sox and pertaining to this team is after the story of the fix broke. Doesn't mean it isn't right, I'm still waiting on a few contacts to come through but I think this story is dubious.
    don't know if this is important or not but the cultural encyclopedia of baseball says that the chicago players started jokingly referring to themselves as the black sox during the 1918 season because of the laundry dispute

    if that is the case (especially if it was just an occasional flip remark) and the press never reported on it or got a hold of it - it seems possible that it could have been revived after the fix - especially considering how all scandals are reported - that is excessively with many, many tangents

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    Quote Originally Posted by bkmckenna
    don't know if this is important or not but the cultural encyclopedia of baseball says that the chicago players started jokingly referring to themselves as the black sox during the 1918 season because of the laundry dispute

    if that is the case (especially if it was just an occasional flip remark) and the press never reported on it or got a hold of it - it seems possible that it could have been revived after the fix - especially considering how all scandals are reported - that is excessively with many, many tangents
    A reference to a dirty uniform as "black," which they look in many photographs, makes more sense than a reference to the fix as being "black."

    I am surprised that one of the papers wouldn't have reported the tid bit in one of their baseball notes columns had a reporter gotten a hold of it. You find many references to seemingly obscure events in those notes and the reporters, from what I understand, were usually very close to the players on a day to day basis.
    The Cuervo Gold, the fine Columbian, make tonight a wonderful thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by runningshoes53
    I am surprised that one of the papers wouldn't have reported the tid bit in one of their baseball notes columns had a reporter gotten a hold of it. You find many references to seemingly obscure events in those notes and the reporters, from what I understand, were usually very close to the players on a day to day basis.
    especially in baseball-frenzy chicago

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    One thing we should remember is that Comiskey had the reporters in his back pocket. A petty dispute like this, a dispute that would look unfavorably on Comiskey might very well be something reporters leave out to curry favor with Comiskey.


    But it appears so far that almost nobody in the public called these guys the black sox before the scandal broke. They may very well have called each other that, but Joe Schmo sitting on the barstool wasn't. Not until after the scandal broke. Joe Schmo wasn't calling them the Black Sox becuase they looked dirty but because of the scandal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous

    But it appears so far that almost nobody in the public called these guys the black sox before the scandal broke. They may very well have called each other that, but Joe Schmo sitting on the barstool wasn't. Not until after the scandal broke. Joe Schmo wasn't calling them the Black Sox becuase they looked dirty but because of the scandal.
    no doubt about that

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    Quote Originally Posted by runningshoes53
    Did Comiskey make them pay for the laundering of thier uniforms?
    players bore the expense for their own uniforms for many years - especially during the 19th century - not sure if they had to launder them but they surely paid for the uniforms themselves - not sure when all this changed - maybe someone knows

    anyway it seems petty by comiskey if indeed it was true - the season was curtailed in 1918 (to 128 for chicago) which might have caused comiskey to be petty about expenses

    i will say that he had little respect for his players by wwi - he publically singled out some of his men specifically as slackers for taking war-related work instead of enlisting

    by the way - none of this mitigates what the chicago eight did

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    I remember rading somewhere (I think it was in the footnotes of Harold Seymour's Baseball, the Golden Age that along with Black Sox, reporters used other euphemisms for the team including Clean Sox and Opposite Sox.

    I'm kicking myself right now, because I own two copies of that particular book and they are both in Ohio. I'm going to see if they have at the University so that I can look it up.

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    New York Times: 2/25/1917

    1916 Payrolls ($1000)

    NL
    Cubs $140
    Giants $120
    Pirates $95
    Braves $95
    Dodgers $93
    Phillies $85
    Cardinals $75
    Reds $70

    AL
    White Sox $130
    Yankees $125
    Red Sox $115
    Tigers $100
    Indians $95
    Senators $90
    Browns $90
    A’s $40

    It should be noted that manager salaries throw things off – Speaker would be included since he was a player – McGraw or Griffith would not.

    For 1917, the Dodgers are the only club to make a significant cut in payroll. The Red Sox attempted to but they weren’t very successful.

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    This is good stuff. I love properly researched history. I will say that it is the problem of the claimant to prove his assertion. A debunker doesn't have nearly as much a burden of proof. He simply has to show a reason that the claim need substantiation. When someone claims that the Black Sox were poorly paid and a debunker shows they were the highest paid team in the league the debunker has done plenty to cast doubt on the claimant's assertion. It is up to the claimant to prove his assertion at that time.
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    The often denegrated cheap Comiskey made an effort in February 1918 to talk the rest of the major league owners into making partial salary payments to war-drafted/enlisted ballplayer's families.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    1918 was a financial shocker for many in and around baseball:
    -owners were looking to cut back on payroll with the war threatening
    -ticket prices were raised
    -a tax was assessed to tickets, proceeds funnelled to the war effort
    -most of the lucrative, multi-year contracts signed during the Federal League crisis expired by the end of 1917
    -Ban Johnson voluntarily reduced his salary from $30,000 to $10,000
    -number of games played were reduced, hence the number of paydays also
    -holdouts were plentiful
    -teams like the Cardinals, Phillies and Red Sox gained a take your offered-contract or leave it attitude
    -Boston owner Harry Frazee said that any Red Sox not sign by the start of spring training would have to pay their own training expenses
    -fan sympathy was not with players during holdouts

    Despite this, every team in the majors appreciable cut payroll except for the Giants, Cubs and White Sox . This irked the other owners in that the three highest payrolls failed to cut their payroll, while the other clubs have. The Braves also failed to lower their payroll - in fact they gave quite a few raises.

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    I think it's a myth that Judge Landis was brought in quickly to clean up the game after the scandal broke. Before the scandal broke, Landis was on the short list of names to replace Garry Herrmann in the National Commission, when the baseball establishment thought the Commission was worth saving. Landis also did not have a lifetime contract.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bkmckenna View Post
    1918 was a financial shocker for many in and around baseball:


    .
    1918 also saw a players strike during the World Series, because of paltry shares. This was caused by the decision of the owners to share the World Series money between the first division teams, and a second decision that the players had to take a percentage of their share in war bonds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdTarbusz View Post
    I think it's a myth that Judge Landis was brought in quickly to clean up the game after the scandal broke. Before the scandal broke, Landis was on the short list of names to replace Garry Herrmann in the National Commission, when the baseball establishment thought the Commission was worth saving. Landis also did not have a lifetime contract.
    Landis (or Herrmann's replacement) was orginally slated to head the National Commission. Landis' personality, troubled times and dislike of Ban Johnson eventually led to his hiring as sole commissioner.

  24. #24
    I have run across a rumor that Cicotte was willing to throw the series because he felt that the introduction of a live ball would end his career, and/or that spitters might have been outlawed outright with no grandfathering in of pitchers who had used them.

    Is their any logic or substance to these rumors? Do they hold water?

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    Quote Originally Posted by brett View Post
    I have run across a rumor that Cicotte was willing to throw the series because he felt that the introduction of a live ball would end his career, and/or that spitters might have been outlawed outright with no grandfathering in of pitchers who had used them.

    Is their any logic or substance to these rumors? Do they hold water?
    It sounds like a rumor made up with hindsight but there is some logic here. No not logic in game-fixing - the only logic I see there is the pursuit of cash.

    Some were pushing hard to outlaw doctored pitches. Clark Griffith was the major driving force here. He had brought the issue up every offseason since at least 1915-16. Obviously, the drive gained momentum by the end of the decade. Cicotte was held out to be a major abuser of the trick pitches. Griffith minced no words about this and often cited Cicotte in his speeches.

    Of course, this is professional sports. What really drove this was the fact that Cicotte and others were so successful at it.

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