, “Eight Men Out” Essay, Research Paper

In the golden age of baseball, where the heroes of the diamond

became gods, an incident that would scar baseball for life was committed in

the World Series of 1919. Eight men of the Chicago White Sox team

conceived a plot to throw the World Series for a sum of $80,000. A novel

written by Eliot Asinof, entitled Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919

World Series, examines the events leading up to the fix, well through the rest

of the players lives.

The players on the Chicago White Sox team of 1919 had many

reasons to believe they were being unfairly treated. One of which was their

poor salaries as compared to the rest of the league. Even though this team

was compiled of some the greatest players in the league, they were one of

the lowest paid franchises. Their owner, Charles Comiskey, was a man who

had no ideas of fair play in regards to his employees. He is comparable to a

robberbarron of the time, for he treated his players as less then human. He

provided them only $3 a day for food allowances when most other teams

allotted their players $4, and even reduced the frequency of cleaning the

players uniforms to save money to give examples.

Chicago’s number one pitcher in the rotation was Eddie Cicotte. He

was seemingly the most disrespected player on the team. He only received

an annual salary of $6,000 for his spectacular play. He was made promise of

a $10,000 bonus if he had achieved 30 wins, and was benched to prohibit

him from reaching this goal and acquiring his money. He was the first player

to go along with Gandil.

The treatment of their number won pitcher is a shining example of how

Comisky treated his player. And what made the matter even worse was that

Comisky treated the press as one would treat a dear friend. He went so far

as to have a chef at there disposal while at the ball park.

Asinof projects the impression that if the players had viewed

themselves as being fairly treated, or at least able to seek employment with

another team, which was prohibited through the reserve clause located within

every players contract, then this tragic story in baseball lore would have never

come about.

The second theme to which Asinof speaks is of the series itself.

Before the series ever even began the gamblers were seemingly stringing

the players along, all except for Arnold Rothstein. He was the only participant

in the fix to uphold his end of the deal, and give the players the money they

agreed upon. But as was the case so often, a fellow gambler, and the man

the players trusted skimmed money off the top and only delivered the players

$10,000 of the $40,000 provided up front.

When the series started, the players were prepared to fulfill their end of

the deal, even though they didn’t receive their payment in advance. In fact

the first two games of the series went exactly according to plan. The superior

White Sox team of Chicago successfully threw the first two games of the

series. The third game was a turning point for the player’s morale. After

being overly frustrated with the treatment they were receiving from their

partners in the fix, they decided to strike back. The third game was an

overwhelming victory for the White Sox. The interesting part of this is that the

players set out to lull the gamblers into a false sense of security by assuring

them the third game would go just as the first two.

This was the beginning of the players’ reluctance to go through with the

fall. This game started a chain of events that lead the players to win the sixth

and seventh games to bring the series record to 4-3 in favor of the Reds. And

if it had not been for the threat on Lefty Williams and his wife, the White Sox

quite possibly would have turned the series around and ended it with a world

championship. The White Sox lost the eighth game of the series, even

though their will to come out with a victory was great, the pitching of Williams

put them in a hole, that even for this great team, was impossible to climb out


In the process of exposing the fix, the wool was pulled over the players

eyes many of times. For example, when Cicotte came in to the grand jury to

confess, Comiskey’s lawyer Alfred Austrian tricked him into signing a waiver

of immunity. This type of trickery was also used on the illiterate Joe Jackson

and “Lefty” Williams. So in result of the manipulative efforts of the grand jury

and Comiskey, the players secret was finally disclosed to the public.

When each of these players were compelled to come forward and

express the details of their participation in this scandal, they were all told that

the state would take care of them. When in fact the state, the grand jury,

among others had no intention of taking care of them, they set out from the

beginning to crucify these ball players, and to do it through any means of

deception necessary. These men destroyed the integrity of a game, a game

that every man, woman, and child saw as part of them, and this could not go


So even though some of these players were seemingly regretful of

what they had done, it made no difference. Newspaper editors, reporters,

and such pressured these players to get the story, to give them guilt trips, or

just to see if there was anything they were leaving out of the fabled tale.

Overall this accusation of a thrown World Series would have never been able

to stick without a confession by the players. This confession was only

obtained through manipulation and lies, which should have never taken place.

During the trial of these eight men, two men seemingly backed them,

one being Charles Comiskey, the owner they betrayed, and Arnold Rothstein,

the millionaire gambler. But an even greater backer was that of professional

baseball, who didn’t want these men to be convicted because it would

damage the reputation of the game. Several peculiar things had happened,

to assure the men’s vindication.

The first is that through all of the deception and back stabbing, Charles

Comiskey was paying for the high priced attorneys to defend these players.

The players initiated contact with the lawyers, and paid them a meniscus

amount of money to retain their services. The players then learned that it was

Comiskey who was fronting the bill in exchange for a few minor details. One

is that his name was kept clean. Two is that he wanted baseball’s name kept

clean. And three is that he wanted the players to be acquitted so they could

continue to play for him, and he could remain the owner of the best team in


The second thing that helped propel the players to victory was that

mysteriously the confessions signed, and the waivers of immunity were stolen

from the court. Asinof believes that Arnold Rothstein had these

confessions stolen so that he could see how his named was mentioned in

these confessions. He was not necessarily incriminated by the confessions of

Cicotte, Williams or Jackson, so he had no real need for them, and seemingly

after attempts to sell them, got rid of the documents.

The third thing that is mysterious about the trial is this. Once the trial

was over and the jury’s verdict read, “not guilty” on all accounts of conspiracy,

the courtroom erupted. Asinof suggests that even the judge was smiling at

the players, and did not proceed in trying to silence the uproar. This suggests

a conspiracy, and that the trial was a fraud. However, nothing suggests this

as great as the fact that the 12 men of the jury were celebrating the players

acquittal in the same restaurant side by side with these eight players.

Asinof has written an excellent book that greatly depicts the events

leading up to this travesty of baseball history. He has presented his

information in a fair, objective way that helps shed light on the whole situation

that was going on between the White Sox and their many counter-parts in

crime. His opinion however is hidden. He hides his opinion regarding the

situation, to allow for a more objective presentation of the facts. He was on

the players side, yes he acknowledges their wrong doing, but he suggests the

punishment was quit harsh, and did not fit the crime. He passively tries to

justify the players wrong doing, and places more blame on Comiskey and the


I disagree, the players initiated the fix, and were prepared to sell out

there team members, the city of Chicago, and Baseball itself. The players

brought this all on themselves, and should be able to face the music.