Monday, April 21, 2008

Did the Cubs throw the 1918 World Series?

The World Series the Cubs (maybe) gave away. This link will take you a story in The Sporting News written by Sean Deveney. He writes:

"Now, it cannot be said for certain that gamblers got to the '18 Cubs. But Eddie Cicotte, pitcher and one of the eight White Sox outcasts from the '19 World Series, did say in a newly found affidavit he gave to the 1920 Cook County grand jury that the Cubs influenced the Black Sox. Cicotte said the notion of throwing a World Series first came up when the White Sox were on a train to New York. The team was discussing the previous year's World Series, which had been fixed, according to players. Some members of the Sox tried to figure how many players it would take to throw a Series. From that conversation, Cicotte said, a scandal was born...

What stuck with me, though, was Cicotte's testimony. The '18 Cubs, inspiration for the '19 Sox? Two pillars of baseball infamy -- the Cubs' 99-year streak and the Black Sox scandal -- both in Chicago, both solidly linked to what should have been a Cubs championship.

The Cubs were 84-45 that year and serious favorites. Cicotte is not alone in suggesting they had been paid off. The lost diary of Charles Comiskey's righthand man, Harry Grabiner, supposedly indicates that the 1918 World Series was fixed. The reporting of baseball columnist Hugh Fullerton -- the man who eventually blew the whistle on baseball's gambling problem -- also suggested that something was afoul in 1918. Fullerton's accounts of those games repeatedly point out bizarre baserunning mistakes and defensive flubs.

The box scores support his descriptions. The Cubs were picked off three times, including twice in the decisive Game 6. That game was lost, 2-1, on a 2-run error by Cubs right fielder Max Flack. Game 4 had been tied, 2-2, in the eighth inning, when Cubs pitcher Shufflin' Phil Douglas gave up a single, followed by a passed ball, followed by an errant throw on a bunt attempt that allowed the winning run to score."

There's more at the link above...