100 Years Ago: Black Sox

As Major League Baseball takes a break for its annual All-Star game, let’s take our time machine back to 1919. A year after the end of the Great War, the U.S. was recovering from the Great Influenza Pandemic and beginning a decade of prosperity. Baseball was truly the national pastime. But a hundred years later, the 1919 World Series is still remembered in infamy for the “Black Sox” players who conspired with gamblers to lose the Series.

The White Sox were World Series champions in 1917. The following year several of their players, including star outfielder “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, went off to war and the Sox fell to sixth place. Back to full strength in 1919, they won the American League pennant and faced the Cincinnati Reds in the Series. Several Sox players followed the lead of ace pitcher Eddie Cicotte: In exchange for $10,000 each ($146,000 in 2019 dollars) they made a deal with gamblers to lose.

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