In October 1919, the Chicago White Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds, in what many major league baseball fans and spectators considered suspicious circumstances. Soon enough the rumours of corruption and bribery emerged, involving large sums of money exchanging hands between members of a gambling syndicate and several White Sox players, who were paid to intentionally lose the world series. In September 1920, a Grand Jury was convened to investigate these claims, and White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte confessed his participation in the scheme. The subsequent fallout resulted in the suspension of Cicotte and seven other players, and meant the scandal would cost the White Sox any chance of winning that year's American pennant against the Cleveland Indians. The eight players eventually went on trial in 1921, and although the court heard damning testimony from fellow players and White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, the accused would all be found not guilty. Despite the acquittals of all defendants in the public trial, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the newly appointed Commissioner of Baseball declared his intention to restore the integrity of the game, and imposed a lifetime ban on all eight players, ensuring they would never again play professional baseball.
The Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox were established as a major league baseball club in 1901, and had been originally known as the Chicago White Stockings, which was soon shortened to White Sox. The club was founded by owner Charles Comiskey, who had been instrumental in the formation of the American League, and the White Sox home stadium, situated at Comiskey Park, in Chicago, Illinois, had been built by and named after the team owner. A former prominent MLB player from 1882 until 1894, Comiskey, who was nicknamed "Commy" and "The Old Roman", was widely disliked by the players, who resented him for his miserliness. Comiskey was so notorious he even forced his players to pay to launder their own uniforms. Comiskey was evidently not averse to using underhanded tactics in his treatment of his valued players. Eddie Cicotte had been promised a $10,000 bonus if he could win 30 games in a season. When he closed in on the 30 game goal after winning his 29th, Comiskey had him benched to keep him from reaching the mark. Comiskey explained the reason for having manager Kid Gleason bench him was because he had to protect his star pitcher's arm as the Sox headed for the 1919 World Series.
Even though his team had previously won the 1917 World Series, and were known as one of the top teams in the league, Comiskey had a reputation for underpaying his players. This reputation was held primarily amongst some of the White Sox player, despite the fact that their team had the third highest team payroll in 1919 behind only Boston and New York. However, the lack of an organised union meant players had no bargaining power when it came to contracts. This was most evident in the "reserve clause", which meant any player who refused to accept a contract was then prohibited from playing baseball for any other professional team. Furthermore players were forbidden from changing teams without permission from their current club. Because of these restrictions, many gamblers found it easy to find players on many teams who were willing to fix a match if the right amount of money was put up, and many players were tempted by such lucrative offers.
There was also a significant division within the White Sox clubhouse, with two distinct factions amongst the players. One group was made up of the more straightlaced players who were called "the Clean Sox", and included players such as pitcher Red Faber, catcher Ray Schalk and second baseman Eddie Collins, who were resented by others in the team for their moral stance and code of ethics. Most contemporary accounts report that the two factions barely spoke to one another on or off the field and were held together by their shared resentment of Comiskey's leadership. These factors would all play into what would become known as the Black Sox Scandal. The main ringleaders of the plot were Arnold "Chick" Gandil, who is considered the mastermind, along with Charles "Swede" Risberg. Eddie Cicotte, who was seriously underpaid for a pitcher of his abilities, resisted all attempts by Gandil to convince him to throw the series until just days before the Word Series opened. Similary, centre fielder Oscar "Happy" Felsch was reluctant to go along with the plan at first, but eventually agreed because of the money involved. There is considerable debate about how the scandal first came to be planned, but according to first baseman Arnold "Chuck" Gandil, he was approached by gambler Joseph J. "Sporty" Sullivan at Boston's Hotel Buckminster in September 1919, with an offer of money to fix the 1919 World Series.
The dispute has continued about who initiated the meeting, and Gandil, who had known Sullivan since 1912, maintained it was Sullivan who approach him concerning the plot. Gandil , at Sullivan's suggestion, recruited several other teammates who would intentionally lose their games. Sullivan then met with influential organised crime boss Arnold Rothstein, who agreed to bankroll the endeavour. Rothstein provided the $80,000 needed for the fix, along with an additional $40,000 for Sullivan to distribute to those players involved. It would later be discovered that Sullivan kept £30,000 of that money for his own wagering and offered only £10,000 to Gandil. In another version of events, it was former big-league pitcher William "Sleepy Bill" Burns along with former fighter Billy Maharg, who at the instigation of Gandil approached former world boxing champ Abraham Attell, who worked as a messenger for Arnold Rothstein. In their bid to get financial backing for the fix, they hoped Attell would pass on their request to Rothstein. The gambling syndicate run by Rothstein soon involved other gamblers such as Aaron Nelson and Aiden Clayton and it was believed that the White Sox players agreed to throw the World Series in exchange for $100,000.
On 21 September 1919, a meeting was organised between the players, at Chick Gandil's room at the Ansonia Hotel in New York. Amongst those in attendance were players who had either committed to going ahead with the scheme or those who agreed to listen to Gandil's plan. George "Buck" Weaver attended the meeting, but was the only player who never accepted any money, whilst "Shoeless" Joe Jackson did not attend, but was mentioned as a participant, and who's involvement is heavily disputed. William "Sleepy Bill" Burns, a former White Sox player who had pitched for the team in 1909 and 1910 was present, and it has been suspected he was working on behalf of Arnold Rothstein, relaying messages back and forth between the players and the New York crime boss. Burns former teammate Fred McMullin got word of the fix and threatened to report the players unless he was involved in the payoff.
Eventually eight White Sox players became involved in the plot. The conspirators had an initial run of goodluck when the straight playing Red Faber could not pitch because of a possible bout of Spanish flu. Faber would have presented a problem for the fix, because had he been on the roster, he would have started games that went instead to either "Lefty" Williams or Eddie Cicotte, causing the scheme to fail. Even before Game One, there were rumours amongst gamblers that the series was fixed and although the White Sox were considered the overwhelming favourites to win, a sudden influx of betting on the Cincinnati Reds caused the odds against them to fall considerably. As a result of these rumours, several press correspondents, including Hugh Fullerton of the Chicago Herald and Examiner and Christy Mathewson, an ex-player and manager, agreed to exchange notes on any games or players they considered questionable.
The Chicago White Sox vs. the Cincinnati Reds at the 1919 World Series
Managed by William "Kid" Gleason, the Chicago White Sox had the best record in the American League, and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson was considered the star of the team. In contrast, the Cincinnati Reds were upstarts, who had finished no higher than third in previous World Series. Red centre fielder Edd Rousch was considered their star player and like White Sox's Jackson was in the top five of their respective leagues. The night before the world series, Cicotte shrewdly demanded and was paid his £10,000 bribe in advance. Game One began on 1 October 1919, at 3:00pm at Cincinnati's Redland Field, where 30,511 cheering fans were in the stands, and ticket scalpers outside the park were charging at least $50 per ticket. In the bottom of the inning, Knuckleballer Eddie Cicotte, known as one of the best pitchers, took the mound and hit the leadoff hitter, Morrie Rath, in the back with his second pitch, in what was a prearranged signal to Arnold Rothstein that the fix was going ahead. The game remained close as the conspirators put up an excellent defence, in part to deflect suspicion away from themselves, however in the fourth Cicotte "went haywire", and allowed a number of hits in succession, which climaxed with a two-out triple to the opposing pitcher as the Reds scored five times to break a 1-1 tie. Gleason relieved Cicotte at that point, but the damage had been done and the Reds would go on to add three more runs in later innings and win 9-1.
Suspicions had already begun and sportswriters noted a bad throw by Cicotte to Charles "Swede" Risberg, another player in on the fix, in the fourth inning, that prevented a possible double play. By the evening of the first game, things were not going to plan for the crooked players. Only Cicotte had been paid his money, and when Bill Burns and Billy Maharg met with Rothstein's intermediary, Abe Attell, to secure the next installment, the boxer refused, explaining it was to be bet on the next game. The next morning Chick Gandil met with Attell and again attempted to secure the money but was again refused. Despite most not receiving a cent of their money, the players still agreed to go through with the fix. On the day of Game Two, 2 October, the Philadelphia Bulletin published a poem that would eventually prove ironic;
Still, it really doesn't matter,
After all, who wins the flag.
Good clean sport is what we're after,
And we aim to make our brag
To each near or distant nation,
Whereon shines the sporting sun,
That of all our games gymnastic
Base ball is the cleanest one!
Some of the press and most fans and observers suspected nothing amiss and were taking the World Series at face value. This time the conspirators decided not to be as obvious in their style as Cicotte, and "Lefty" Williams, the starting pitcher, played well until the fourth inning, when he walked three and gave up as many runs. Afterwards he became almost unhittable again, giving up only one more run. Gandil was particularly guilty of a lack of clutch-hitting which eventually led to a 4-2 loss for the White Sox. Despite their success, Attell refused to pay up, and the players soon suspected they had been doubled crossed. Burns was somehow able to secure $10,000, which he gave to Gandil to distribute to the other players. For Game Three, the teams headed northwest to Comiskey Park in Chicago to play the next day on 3 October. The starter for Game Three was rookie pitcher Dickie Kerr, who was not in on the fix, and who was disliked by those players involved in the plot. The original plan had been to lose this game, but by now there was dissent amongst the conspirators and the plan was put into disarray. Burns placed a great deal of faith in the plot and gathered whatever money he could to bet on Cincinnati, which resulted in a catastrophic blunder that would leave him broke. It appeared the players had now doubled crossed the gamblers, and Chicago scored early, with Gandil himself driving in two runs, whilst Kerr proved a masterful pitcher, holding the Reds to three hits which resulted in a 3-0 complete game shutout.
On Saturday 4 October, Game Four started at 2:00pm with White Sox starter Cicotte determined not to appear as bad as he had done so in Game One. He matched zeroes with Reds pitcher Jimmy Ring for the first four innings. With one out in the fifth, Cicotte then fielded a slow roller by Pat Duncan, but threw wildly to first for a two-base error. Larry Kopf was next up to bat and singled to left, then Cicotte cut off the throw from "Shoeless Joe" Jackson and fumbled the ball, allowing Duncan to score. At this point the home crowd were stunned by the veteran pitcher's obvious mistake, and when he gave up a double to Reds right fielder Alfred "Greasy" Neale, scoring Kopf to make it 2-0, it was enough of a lead for Reds pitcher Ring, who then threw a three-hit shutout of his own which matched Kerr's in Game Three. With this the Reds were leading the series 3-1. After the game, "Sport" Sullivan handed over $20,000 to Gandil, which was to be split equally amongst Risberg, Felsch and "Lefty" Williams, who was tipped to start Game Five the following day. Lefty brought up $5,000 in cash to the room he shared with "Shoeless" Joe Jackson after Game Four and threw it down as they were packing to leave to travel back to Cincinnati. This was the only money Jackson received, and he had been promised $20,000, divided up into equal payments after each loss. The game was eventually postponed for a day due to rain, but play resumed on 6 October.
During Game Five, White Sox starter Williams along with Cincinnati's Hod Eller both pitched superbly at first, and neither allowed a runner to past first until the top of the sixth, when Eller himself made a blunder which fell between Jackson and Flesch. Flesch's subsequent throw was off-line, which allowed Eller all the way to third. Reds Leadoff hitter Morrie Rath hit a single over the drawn-in infield, scoring Eller. Due to the doubtful defending by Flesch, Heinie Groh walked before Edd Rouch's double, which brought home two more runs, with Rousch scoring shortly after. Pitching by Eller would see nine batters struck out, including a then-World Series record six in a row, for the four runs to stand up, which meant the Reds were only one game away from their first world championship. Game Six was played at Cincinniati's Redland Field on 7 October, with Dickie Keer starting for the White Sox, who played less dominant than he had done in Game Three. Despite an early lead by the Reds, who jumped to a 4-0 lead due to three errors by the White Sox, Chicago would fight back and eventually tied the game at 4 in the sixth, which remained the score into extra innings. Mindful of the need to keep up the charade, Gandil drove in Weaver in the top of the tenth, securing a 5-4 lead, whilst Keer closed it out to record hits, securing Chicago's second win.
Although there were rumours circulating about Cicotte's erratic performances in Games One and Four, the White Sox manager Kid Gleason decide to place his star pitcher in Game Seven. On 8 October, Cicotte would go on to showcase his ace abilities allowing Chicago to score early. For once it was the Cincinnati players who made blunders, but in the sixth, the Reds threatened only briefly before losing 4-1, making the series suddenly very close again. At this point Sullivan and Rothstein became worried the White Sox would pull a miraculous victory, and risk Rothstein losing his investment. The businessman and crime boss had been far too smart to bet on individual games, and instead had $270,000 riding on Cincinnati to win the Series. The night before Game Eight, "Lefty" Williams, who was the scheduled starter, was supposedly visited by an associate of Sullivan's who made it clear that if he failed to sabotage the game, he and his wife would be in serious danger.
Whatever Williams had been told certainly made an impression, and in the fist he threw nothing but mediocre fastballs, giving up four straight one-out hits for three runs before White Sox manager Gleason relieved him with "Big" Bill James. But James would go on to allow one of Williams baserunners to score. In the third inning Jackson hit the only homer of the Series after the Reds had built a 5-0 lead, earning himself 12 hits overall, a World Series record at that time. James continued ineffective, however, despite Chicago rallying in the eight, the Reds ended with a 10-5 victory for a five-games-to-three Series win. Rumours soon abounded from coast to coast that the games had been thrown, and journalist Hugh Fullerton, of the Chicago Herald and Examiner wrote that no World Series should ever be played again, after witnessing what he described as the "White Sox deliberate display of ineptitude".
The Aftermath of the Black Sox Scandal
For his part in masterminding the fix, "Chick" Gandil walked away with $35,000. Shortstop Charles "Swede" Risberg, who went 2 for 25 at the plate and made a Series-record eight errors, received $15,000, which was over four times his regular salary, whilst Claude "Lefty" Williams was promised $10,000 to lose his starts, but received only $5,000, which was still double his 1919 salary of $2,600. Eddie Cicotte had his $10,000 paid upfront, and both "Shoeless Joe" Jackson and Oscar "Happy" Felsch were each paid $5,000. Reserve infielder Fred McMullin, who was Chicago's advance scout and who had previously overheard the conspirators discussing the fix and threatened to talk, was also paid $5,000 to ensure his silence. Third baseman George "Buck" Weaver who had batted .324, tallying 11 hits, was the only player involved in the plot who received no money. In the spring of 1920, Gandil demanded that the White Sox raise his salary to $6,500 per year, but owner Charles Comiskey refused to agree, and Chick decided to stay in California where he eventually retired from the majors. Comiskey then attempted to discourage any talk of a fix, as the result of his team's dismal performance in the Series, by issuing a statement to the press, in which he told reporters, "I believe my boys fought the battle of the recent World Series on the level, as they have always done. And I would be the first to want information to the contrary, if there be any. I would give $20,000 to anyone unearthing information to that effect."
Rumours would continue to persist and dogged the White Sox throughout the 1920 season as they battled the Cleveland Indians for the American League pennant, and although it had long been known that some players were being offered and accepted bribes from gamblers, little was being done by the club owners to stop such corrupt practices. Many of those who had bet heavy on the Sox were now complaining about a scandal. In July 1920, White Sox manager Kid Gleason ran into Abe Attell at a New York bar, and he confirmed Gleason's suspicions about the fix. "You know, Kid, I hated to do that to you, but I thought i was going to make a bundle, and I needed it", he told Gleason. Attell further revealed that Arnold Rothstein supplied the money for the fix. Gleason went to the press with the story, but was unable to convince anyone to print it, because of fear of libel suits. The issue of the 1919 Series came to public attention once again in September 1920, after allegations that a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs on 31 August had been fixed. Because of this, a grand jury was empaneled in the Chicago state court in the fall of 1920, directed by Judge Charles McDonald, to investigate baseball gambling.
The Grand Jury Investigation (September-October 1920)
There on 28 September 1920, Cicotte was the first of the eight players to come forward about the plot, signing a confession and a waiver of immunity. "I dont know why I did it, I must have been crazy", Cicotte said. "Risberg, Gandil, and McMullin were at me for a week before the Series began. They wanted me to go crooked. I don't know. I needed the money. I had the wife and kids. The wife and kids don't know about this. I don't know what they'll think." A tearful Cicotte continued, "I've lived a thousand years in the last twelve months. I would have not done that thing for a million dollars. Now I've lost everything, job, reputation, everything. My friends all bet on the Sox. I knew, but I couldn't tell them." Eventually Jackson was also called to give a statement and he too incriminated himself and his teammates. He admitted agreeing to participate in the fix and some news accounts quoted Jackson as saying, "When a Cincinnati player would bat a ball out in my territory I'd muff it if I could... that is, fail to catch it. But if it would look too much like crooked work to do that I'd be slow and make a throw to the infield that would be short. My work netted the Cincinnati team several runs that they never would have had if we had been playing on the square." However, no such testimony appears in the stenographic record of Jackson's Grand Jury confession.
As Jackson walked out of the jury room he told two bailiffs, "I got a big load off my chest!". The outfielder had been endeared to many White Sox fans who considered his involvement the most bitter pill to swallow. After his confessions, writer Charley Owens of the Chicago Daily News penned a lump-in-the-throat tribute headlined, "Say it ain't so, Joe". This phrase would become legend, and was later attributed to an apocryphal story associated with Jackson that was printed in the Chicago Herald and Examiner, in which a young boy spoke with him outside the courthouse and asked, "It ain't so, Joe is it?", to which Jackson allegedly replied, "Yes, kid, I'm afraid it is." "Shoeless Joe" Jackson would later deny any such exchange ever occurred, adding, "The only one who spoke was a guy who yelled to his friend, 'I told you he wore shoes!'". Testifying before the grand jury earned Jackson the enmity of his fellow conspirators, such as Gandil, Risberg and McMullin.
Jackson would later say that other players told him, "You poor simp, go ahead and squawk. We'll all say you're a liar". Jackson sought protection from the bailiffs when he left the jury room explaining, "Now Risberg threatens to bump me off... I'm not going to get far from my protectors until this blows over". That same day, Comiskey sent a telegram to all eight players, which he later made public, notifying them of their indefinite suspension from the White Sox team. Defense attorney William Fallon, who represented Sporty Sullivan, Abe Attell and the gamblers, knew he had to somehow protect his clients. After meeting with Rothstein, it was decided that Attell and Sullivan should be kept away from the Grand Jury. The two gamblers were called into Rothstein's apartment and there Fallon announced that Sullivan would go to Mexico, and Attell to Canada, where they would both enjoy, as Fallon put it, "a vacation with pay", as Rothstein pulled out his wallet. Meanwhile more details about the fix were emerging in Chicago, when Lefty Williams became the third White Sox player to tell his story to the Grand Jury, testifying for three hours. Happy Felsch was next, and his version of events appeared in an interview with the Chicago American. "Well, the beans are spilled and I think i'm through with baseball," Felsch said, "I got $5,000. I could have got just about that much by being on the level if the Sox had won the Series. And now i'm out of baseball, the only profession I know anything about, and a lot of gamblers have gotten rich. The joke seems to be on us."
Soon a disgruntled Billy Maharg provided the full details of the plot to a Philadelphia writer, and would state before the grand jury he had worked with former boxer Abe Attell and New York gambler Arnold Rothstein to bribe the White Sox to throw the 1919 World Series. Fallon decided the only way to exonerate his client, was to bring Rothstein to Chicago and have him testify before the Grand Jury. He also believe that it might be mutually beneficial to meet with owner Comiskey, knowing that the White Sox owner hated the investigation into his teams corruption. Rothstein told the jury he came to Chicago because he was "sick and tired" of all the rumours of his involvemnet in the fix. "I've come here to vindicate myself," Rothstein explained, "The whole thing started when Attell and some other cheap gamblers decided to frame the Series and make a killing. The world knows I was asked in on the deal and my friends know how I turned it down flat. I don't doubt that Attell used my name to put it over." This tactic seemed to work and when he finished his testimony, Cook County Attorney Maclay Hoyne declared, "I don't think Rothstein was involved in it."
Throughout late September 1920, the American League had been one of the most exciting on record, with the White Sox, New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians all battling for the league lead. By the time of the Grand Jury, the Yankees were close to elimination, and the White Sox and Indians were within percentage points of each other. In order to win the pennant, the White Sox would need to win all three of their remaining games, and hope that Cleveland stumbled, as the Indians had more games left to play than the White Sox. However, on 28 September, with eight White Sox players indicted, and despite the season being on the line, they were immediately suspended by owner Charles Comiskey. Without some of his star players, the White Sox lost two of the three games in the final series against the St. Louis Browns and finished in second place, and the Indians were able to pull ahead and win the pennant, securing the American League championship by two games over Chicago. American Baseball had always previously been governed by a three-man National Commission, however many club owners voiced their dislike for the current league presidents, American League President Ban Johnson and National League President John Heydler, preferring the appointment of a single commissioner. A proposal by Albert Lesker, a shareholder in the Chicago Clubs, called for the appointment of a three-man commission composed of members who had no financial interest in baseball. The start of the 1920 World Series served to distract the public from the scandalous rumours, however discussions were ongoing behind the scenes.
By mid-October 1920, 11 of the 16 team owners were demanding an end to the National Commission. These club owners unanimously selected Kenesaw Mountain Landis, as the newly appointed Commissioner of Baseball. Landis was an American jurist who served as a United States federal judge from 1905 to 1922. Ban Johnson opposed the Lesker Plan, and in response, the American League clubs which supported it now threatened to move to the National League. When the minor leagues failed to support his position, Johnson agreed to the Lesker Plan and it was eventually decided that Landis would serve as the only commissioner, with no associate members being elected. Initially reluctant to take the position, Landis eventually agreed to accept the job for seven years at a salary of $50,000, on the condition that he could remain on the federal bench. The appointment of Landis was met with acclaim in the press, and he soon wielded enormous power over baseball, having nearly unlimited authority over every person employed in the major and minor leagues, from the club owners to the batboys. On 30 January 1921, Landis warned, "Now that I am in baseball, just watch the game I play. If i catch any crook in baseball, the rest of his life is going to be a pretty hot one. I'll go to any means and to anything possible to see that he gets a real penalty for his offence."
The grand jury had handed down its decision on 22 October 1920, and eight players and five gamblers were implicated, including Sport Sullivan, Bill Burns and Abe Attell. Rothstein was not named in the indictment, which included nine counts of conspiracy to defraud various individuals and institutions. The ten players not implicated in the scandal, including manager Kid Gleason, were each given bonus checks to the amount of $1,500 by Comiskey in the fall of 1920, which equalled the difference between the winners' and losers' share for participation in the 1919 World Series. Soon after the indictments were handed down, the old staff at the Office of the State Attorney were about to be replaced by the newly elected Robert Crowe, who had previously prosecuted the Leopold and Loeb case. It has been suspected the confessions made before the Grand Jury by Cicotte, Jackson and Williams were stolen by State Attorney Hoyne's personal secretary George Kenney, possibly on the offer of money from Abe Attell. These same confessions would later reappear in the possession of Comiskey's lawyer. As a result, the criminal case against the Black Sox defendants suffered an unexpected setback, and Cicotte would later recant his confession along with the others.
The level of involvement of others has been disputed, particularly that of Hal Chase. A former first baseman and manager, Chase had been implicated as a middle-man between the players and gamblers, but this was never confirmed. He had a long history of throwing games, and mid-way through the 1918 season, he allegedly paid pitcher Jimmy Ring $50 to throw a game against the Giants. During the 1920 season, he was also suspected of bribing Cubs midfielder Lee Magee not to hustle in certain games. From that point onwards, Chase was effectively blackballed from the majors leagues. The Grand Jury indicted him for his alleged role in the scandal, but California refused to extradite him to Illinois because of an incorrectly issued arrest warrant. There was evidence that Jean "Chauncey" Dubuc, a former pitcher, manager and scout had been advised by "Sleepy Bill" Burns that the 1919 World Series had been fixed, and that Dubuc should therefore bet on the Cincinnati Reds. Dubuc had neither participated, nor was a conspirator in the scandal, but he was investigated because of his "guilty knowledge" of the fix. It is unknown if he suffered the same fate as the White Sox players and banned from baseball as a result of the investigation.
As the trial drew near, Fallon arranged for the players to be represented by some of the best and most expensive defence attorney's in Illinois. As the White Sox players were now out of work and impoverished, it was unsure who paid the legal fees for their defence. No one who knew talked, however an acquittal would benefit Comiskey, who still held out hope that the suspended players could be reinstated, possibly after serving brief suspensions, whilst Rothstein had much to lose should his name be further linked during a highly publicised trial. American League President Ban Johnson pushed most strongly for convictions, in his attempt to appear to be cleaning up the sport, and he was frustrated by the lack of support from Comiskey. He complained, "We have been working on this case for three solid months and we have not had an iota of cooperation from the Chicago club".
On 14 February 1921, the defendants were arraigned to face the charges before Judge William Dever. All the ballplayers were present but none of the gamblers included on the indictment. The defence lawyers presented a petition for a bill of particulars, a statement that would specify the charges against their clients with more specificity than the indictments contained. A month later, George Gorman of the State announced the shocking news that players' confessions had been stolen and so the prosecution was forced to dismiss the original indictments, and bring new charges against seven of the ballplayers. Fred McMullin was the only player not charged in the new indictment, however he was banned for life along with the other seven Black Sox players by Commissioner Landis. A new set of charges were presented to a Grand Jury, who issued a superseding indictment on 26 March, adding five new gamblers.
The new trial, which opened on 21 June 1921 with Judge Hugh Friend presiding, was delayed when two of the gambler defendants, Carl Zork and Ben Franklin claimed to be ill and were unable to attend court. White Sox player Shano Collins was named as the wrong party in the indictments, after he accused his former teammates of having cost him $1,784, as a result of losing the World Series. On 1 July, the prosecution announced that William "Sleepy Bill" Burns had turned states evidence. American League President Ban Johnson, with the help of Billy Maharg, had found Burns fishing in the Rio Grande in the small Texas border town of Del Rio, and when offered immunity from prosecution the former pitcher reluctantly agreed to testify. The court rejected a motion put forward by the defence to have the indictments quashed, and on 5 July, jury selection began. Over 600 prospective jurors were questioned over their support of the White Sox, their views on baseball and their betting habits, in an attempts to secure an impartial twelve man jury. One potential juror, William Keifer, was excused because he was a Cubs fan, and presumably held hostile views against that team's cross-town rival.
The Black Sox Trial (18 July 1921-3 August 1921)
In Chicago, Illinois, the new trial eventually began on 18 July 1921, and the prosecution was led by George Gorman, Edward Prindeville and John Tyrell. The defence team formed by Rothstein's lawyer Fallon included, Henry Berger, Michael Ahern, who was later called "Al Capone's favourite lawyer", Morgan Frumberg, Max Lusker, Thomas O'Brien, Benedictine "Ben" Short and Thomas Nash. The trial was to be the first American trial involving national sporting figures, who were considered heroes to many after the terrible events of World War I. Gormon delivered the opening statement of the prosecution, describing the 1919 Series fix as a disorderly game of chess between players and gamblers and declared, "The gamblers and ball players started double-crossing each other until neither side knew what the other intended to do." When Gormon began quoting from a copy of Cicotte's confession, defence attorney Michael Ahearn objected, stating, "You won't get to first base with those confessions!", to which Gormon countered, "We'll hit a home run with them!". "You may get a long hit," Ahearn acknowledged, "but you'll be thrown out at the plate." Ahearn would be proved correct when Judge Friend deemed any confession inadmissible as evidence.
White Sox owner Charles Comiskey was the first witness called for the prosecution. He provided the court with a history of his career in baseball, from his early days as a player beginning in Milwaukee in 1876, to his current position as president of the White Sox organisation. Under cross-examination, the defence attempted to show that Comiskey had made more money in 1920 then any previous year in his career, which disputed the State's theory that Comiskey had suffered financial loss by the alleged conspiracy. Comiskey became so agitated with this line of questioning that he rose from his chair in the witness stand and shook his fist at the defendants counsel. Judge Friend soon stopped this line of questioning, causing defence attorney Ben Short to exclaim, "This man is getting richer all the time and my clients are charged with conspiracy to injure his business."
Without the confessions Gormon realised he faced an uphill struggle in proving the players guilt, but had an ace up his sleeve. The next day on 19 July, the former pitcher William "Sleepy Bill" Burns, Rothstein's messenger, was called as a witness for the prosection. Dressed in a green checkered suit with a lavender shirt and bow tie, Burns took the stand and described in a newspaper account of his testimony, "spoke in a low, even tone, which scarcely carried past the jury and repeatedly wiped his forehead with his handkerchief." Questioned by Gormon, he identified Eddie Cicotte as the instigator of the fix and the man with whom he had met at the Hotel Ansonia in September of 1919. When Gorman asked about his conversation with Cicotte on 16 or 17 September, the defence objected and their objection was sustained by Judge Friend. Burns went on to describe meetings in New York with Gandil, Cicotte and Maharg during which the possibility of a fix was discussed. He testified that he and Maharg "went to see Arnold Rothstein at a race track", where they discussed possible financing. Later, Burns told jurors, he and other gamblers held a meeting, two days before the start of the Series, with seven of the Sox players during which the promise to pay the players $20,000 for each thrown game was made.
Burns spent three days on the stand, and when cross-examined by Assistant State Attorney Edward Prindeville, he said, "I told them I had the hundred thousand dollars to handle the throwing of the World Series. I also told them that I had the names of the men who were going to finance it. I told them they were waiting below." He testified the players had agreed to fix the series for Arnold Rothstein of New York, in collusion with Attell, Maharg, and the defendant gamblers David Zelser, alias Bennett and Carl Zork. Burns would quote Cicotte as saying, "I will throw the first game if I have to throw the ball clear out of the Cincinnati Park." Burns also claimed he met with the players and told them the gambling syndicate would pay them $20,000 after each of five games were lost, to the amount of $100,000. He also said that Jackson was not present when he talked to the other players.
The prosecution then called John Says, the secretary of the Chicago Cubs as a witness. He testified that he met with Abe Attell at the Sinton Hotel the day before the Series opener, and that the boxer said he was betting heavily on Cincinnati. Says told the jurors, "Attell was taking all the White Sox money he could get", and that he met again with Attell before Game Three, and said the gambler told him, "he wasn't going to bet on Cincinnati that day because it looked like Dick Kerr, the Sox pitcher, would win." The main issue of contention during the trial had been over the mystery of the missing confessions and immunity waivers. Judge Friend had ruled no evidence of the confessions could be introduced unless the State could prove that they were made voluntarily and without duress. The former State Attorney Hartley Replogle testified that the statements were made by the players voluntarily and without any offer of reward. In contrast, Cicotte testifed that Replogle had promised him that in return for his statement, "I would be taken care of," which he assumed meant he would not prosecuted. When asked if the statement he had made could be used against him, Cictotte said, "I dont' remember". In Cicotte's confession, he expressed misgivings about his participation: "I would gladly have given back the $10,000 they paid me with interest."
During his cross-examination, prosecutor Gormon argued Cictotte, "was panic stricken and ran to the grand jury to confess", and asked, "didn't you read about the ball scandal in the paper and tell everything of your own free will?". Cicotte replied, "No, they promised me freedom." Gormon interjected, "Didn't you cry bitterly?", to which the ballplayer said, "I may have had tears in my eyes". Cicotte told the judge he used his $10,000 pay-off to take care of a mortgage on a Michigan farm and buy stock. "Shoeless Joe" Jackson told a similar story, telling the jury he was told that, "after confessing I could go anywhere... all the way to the Portuguese Islands." When asked if he read the document he signed before offering his statement, Jackson said, "No. They'd given me their promise. I'd've signed my death warrant if they asked me to." He denied making any intentional fielding errors, but told the judge that he "might have tried harder.", and Jackson told the judge he was first approached in New York about participating in the fix, and made clear that it would take at least $20,000 for him to join. The initial offer, Jackson said to the judge, was so low "a common labourer wouldn't do a job like that for that price." In his defence, Jackson claimed to have refused the $5,000 bribe on two separate occasions, and only took the money when it was tossed on the floor of his hotel room by Lefty Williams. Jackson then said he tried to tell owner Comiskey about the fix, but he refused to even meet with him. After listening to Jackson's testimony, Judge Friend ruled the confessions could be part of the State's case, but only to prove the guilt of the players giving the statements.
Chick Gandil claimed that it was Sullivan who approached him with the idea to fix the 1919 World Series, telling the court, "I had only social contacts with gamblers until that September day in 1919 when Sullivan walked up to Eddie Cicotte and me as we left our hotel in Boston. As I recall, we were four games in front the final week of the season, and it looked pretty certain that the pennant was ours. I was kind of surprised when Sullivan suggested that we get a "syndicate" together of seven or eight players to throw the Series to Cincinnati. As I say, I never figured the guy as a fixer but just one who played for the percentages. The idea of taking seven or eight people in on the plot scared me. I said to Sullivan it wouldn’t work. He answered, 'Don’t be silly. It's been pulled before and it can be again.' He had a persuasive manner which he backed up with a lot of cash. He said he was willing to pay $10,000 each to all the players we brought in on the deal. Considering our skimpy salaries, $10,000 was quite a chunk, and he knew it."
Previous Judge Charles A. MacDonald testified about meetings he had with Cicotte and Jackson before their grand jury testimony. Cicotte had told him, he said, that after hitting the first batter in Game One "he played on the square." MacDonald added that Jackson was very concerned that his grand jury testimony be kept secret because he, "was afraid Swede Risberg was going to bump him off, to use Jackson's words." The confessions of Cicotte, Williams, and Jackson were read in court on 27 July, and according to a newspaper report of the trial, "The actual transcript of the confessions varied little from the frequently published reports of them." The gambler Billy Maharg was the final witness presented by the prosecution, and one spectator noted, "he flashed enough diamonds on his fingers to buy a flock of autos". He confirmed Burns' story about an initial meeting in New York involving Gandil and Cicotte, and testified that Attell told him that Rothstein had agreed to finance the fix in return for his having once saved Rothstein's life. He also said that the first payment of $10,000 to Burns came when Attell pulled the money "from a great pile of bills under his mattress," which came from money that Rothstein had apparently sent by wire. It had long been suspect that Maharg's real name was Graham, and he was asked during the trial, "Are you a ballplayer named Peaches Graham?". Maharg replied, "No!, I have never been anything but Billy Maharg. I know Graham, but I am not he."
The defence team presented a variety of White Sox players and team officials as witnesses to provide character and alibi testimony on behalf of the defendants. Team manager Kid Gleason testified that the indicted players were practising at the Cincinnati ballpark at the time when Burns alleged he was meeting with them in a hotel room. Several White Sox players not involved in the fix were also called and asked if they thought the indicted players had played to the best of their abilities in the Series. When each question was asked by the defence, the prosecution shouted its objection, and the Judge sustained the objections, citing them as calling for opinions not facts. Charles Comiskey's chief financial officer, Harry Grabiner was called to show that the team gate receipts in 1920 were well above those in 1919, when the players were alleged to have defrauded Comiskey of his income. The jury showed an intense interest in this financial testimony, because it undermined the prosecution's case that the White Sox were damaged by the player's actions.
On 29 July, the prosecuting attorney Edward Prindeville summed up the case, telling the jury that, "Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte and Claude Williams sold out the American public for a paltry $20,000. This game, gentlemen, has been the subject of a crime. The public, the club owners, even the small boys on the sandlots have been swindled." Prindeville continued, "They have taken our national sport, our national pleasure, and tried to turn it into a con game." The prosecutor directed a scathing attack on Cicotte, "Cicotte, the American League's greatest pitcher, hurling with a heavy heart, by his own confession, and pocket made heavy by $10,000 in graft, was beaten 9 to 1. No wonder he lost. The pocket loaded with filth for which he sold his soul and his friends was too much. It overbalanced him and he lost." Prindeville requested the jury return a "verdict of guilty with five years in the penitentiary and a fine of $2,000 for each defendant".
Gormon then followed Prindeville, asking the jury to remember the fans, "Thousands of men throughout the chilly hours of the night, crouched in line waiting for the opening of the first World Series game. All morning they waited, eating a sandwich perhaps, never daring to leave their places for a moment. There they waited to see the great Cicotte, they went to see a ballgame. But all they saw was a con game!." Ben Short was the first to sum up for the defence, telling the jury, "there may have been an agreement entered into by the defendants to take the gamblers' money, but it has not been shown that the players had any intention of defrauding the public or bringing the game into ill repute. They believed that any arrangement they may have made was a secret one and would, therefore, reflect no discredit on the national pastime or injure the business of their employer as it would never be detected." Morgan Frumberg of the defence argued the real guilty party in this whole endeavour was Arnold Rothstein, who was not in the courtroom to face charges and asked, "Why was he not indicted?... why were these underpaid ballplayers, these penny-ante gamblers who may have bet a few nickels on the World Series brought here to be the goats in this case?."
In the years since the trial, evidence suggests that jury were already leaning towards an acquittal, however this was sealed when Judge Friend charged the jury. He told them that in order to return a guilty verdict, they must find that the players conspired "to defraud the public and others, and not merely to throw ballgames". The New York Times published an editorial which humorously likened the Judges instruction as the "State must prove the defendant intended to murder his victim, not merely cut his head off." The jury deliberated for less three hours before returning a verdict of not guilty for Claude Williams. A huge celebratory roar went up in the courtroom, and as the other defendants were found not guilty, the cheers increased and hats and confetti went flying through the air and both players and spectators were heartily patting the jurors on the back in approval. In astonishing scenes, several of the jurors lifted some of the players onto their shoulders and paraded them around.
Gandil said after the trial, "I guess that'll learn Ban Johnson he can't frame an honest bunch of ball players", and also claimed he "never have any doubt about the verdict" blaming the whole trial ordeal on "those two liars, Bill Burns and Billy Maharg." Eddie Cicotte, while shaking hands with jurors, had little to say about the trial outcome: "Talk, you say? I talked once in this building, never again." Joe Jackson told reporters, "The jury could not have returned a fairer verdict, but I don't want to go back to organised baseball... I'm through with it." Buck Weaver said, "I had nothing to do with this so-called conspiracy; I believe that I should get my old position back. I cannot express my contempt for Bill Burns.", whilst Claude Williams asked, "How could the verdict have been anything else?". The players were soon celebrating, along with Billy Maharg, but despite their victory within the courtroom, the players joy was short-lived.
The day after the jury's verdict, the Commissioner of Baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis released a statement to the press, "Regardless of the verdict of the juries, no player who throws a ballgame, no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ballgame, no player that sits in conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will never play professional baseball." Despite the best efforts of the vindicated players, especially Buck Weaver, to gain reinstatement, Landis was true to his word and none of the "Eight Men Out" would ever take part in a major league game. At least two other players, who were suspected of involvement, were also banned by Landis. One was Hal Chase, who had been effectively blackballed from the majors since 1919 after a long history of throwing games, and spent most of 1920 playing in the minors. It was rumoured he had been a go-between for Gandil and the gamblers, but his involvement was never confirmed. Despite this, his banishment from the majors was made permanent and Landis also barred him from the minors as well.
Another player to fall foul of Landis new rules was second baseman for the St. Louis Browns, Joe Gedeon, who was suspected of placing bets on Cincinnati ever since he learned of the fix from his friend Swede Risberg. In an effort to gain a reward, Gedeon informed Comiskey of the fix shortly after the World Series ended, but he was similarly banned for life along with the eight White Sox players. With seven of their best players permanently sidelined, the White Sox crashed into seventh place in 1921, and would not regain an influential position in a pennant race again until 1936, five years after Comiskey's death, when the team returned to the upper half of the league. They would not become regular contenders again until the early 1950's, and the team would not win another American League championship until 1959. They would fail to win another World Series until 2005, in what many fans and spectators came to consider superstitiously and what the media would publicise as the "Curse of the Black Sox".
Arnold "Chick" Gandil, the mastermind of the 1919 World Series fix, retired from the majors in the spring of 1920. After his acquittal at the Black Sox Trial, he continued to play semi-pro ball on the West Coast, and attempted to put together a team in Southern California, making contact with Joe Jackson, Swede Risberg, Joe Gedeon and Fred McMullin. In 1925, he played with Hal Chase and other banished players in the Frontier League in Douglas, Arizona. Whilst presiding over the Douglas team in 1927, he reportedly had team manager Buck Weaver banned from the league, because he felt betrayed by his former White Sox teammate's lack of support during the 1921 investigation into the 1917 White Sox/Tigers situation. He ended his semi-pro career playing in the copper mining towns of New Mexico. Afterwards he settled in Berkeley, California with his wife and children, where he worked as a plumber. He eventually retired in 1954 to Calistoga, and spent the last years of his life in the Napa Valley region of Northern California where he died from heart failure on 13 December 1970 at the age of 82.
Joseph "Shoeless Joe" Jackson would spent the rest of his life proclaiming his innocence, and significant doubt has been cast over his involvement in the fix. It has been argued that because he was largely illiterate, Jackson was mostly unaware of the seriousness of the plot and only consented when Swede Risberg threatened him and his family. Lefty Williams would later confirm that Jackson never attended any of the meetings between crooked players, and they raised his name in the hopes of giving their conspiracy more credibility to the gamblers. In 1922, Jackson moved to Savannagh, Georgia where he opened a dry cleaning business with his wife. In 1924, he launched a successful lawsuit against Charles Comiskey to recover back pay for the 1920 and 1921 seasons. He then played with and managed a number of semi-professional teams, most of which were located in Georgia and North Carolina. By 1933, the Jacksons moved back to North Carolina, and after opening a barbecue restaurant, the couple ran "Joe Jackson's Liquor Store". In his later years he began to suffer from heart problems and on 5 December 1951, at the age of 64 he died of a heart attack. He was the first of the eight banned players to pass away, and was buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Greenville.
Eddie Cicotte almost never became involved in the Black Sox Scandal, and only relented just days prior to the start of the Series under pressure from Chick Gandil. His involvement has been attributed to his bitterness over Comiskey reneging on his promised cash bonus for winning 30 games in a season. When he realised the White Sox owner would not pay even a percentage of the promised bonus, he agreed to the fix. Despite being the first player to come forward and confess his involvement, and his subsequent acquittal, Cicotte was permanently banned from major league baseball. He then returned to Livonia, Michigan, where he managed a service station and later served as a game warden in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Before his retirement in 1944, he worked for the Ford Motor Company and afterwards he had a 5.5 acre strawberry farm near Farmington. Cicotte lived to the age of 84, and died at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit on 5 May 1969.
Claude "Lefty" Williams suffered three loses during the fix, which were a World Series Record, and he pocketed $5,000, just half of what he was promised by Gandil, but which was almost double his 1919 salary of £2,600. Williams never returned to the major leagues due to the ban imposed by Landis, and afterwards barnstormed and played in the outlaw leagues for several years. In 1922, he played with a travelling team called the Maesaba Range Black Sox, which also consisted of disgraced former White Sox players Happy Felsch and Swede Risberg, and played throughout the Mid-West and Canada. He played briefly for the Bayard Veterans team in New Mexico, which was part of what was known as the Copper League, or Cactus League. He was known for his heavy drinking, and it was reported that the between innings "nips" he would take made him a formidable and intimidating pitcher to the opposing batters. In his later years, Williams moved to Laguna Beach, California, where he operated a garden nursery business. He passed away on 4 November 1959, at 66 years of age.
Fred McMullin had also served as Chicago's advance scout, and it has been suspected he delivered a flawed scouting report about what to expect from the Cincinnati's pitchers to all those players not in on the fix, as a means of covering himself and his co-conspirators. But McMullin never spoke publicly about his involvement in the Black Sox Scandal, and when he was banned from professional baseball he went on to hold a variety of jobs throughout his life, such as office work, a carpenter, a traffic manager and Los Angeles County Deputy Marshal, a position which he assumed in 1940. In this role his duties involved serving as a bailiff and serving eviction notices. He once served an eviction notice on a blind woman, but delayed it when he saw that she was struggling to pack up the belongings of her children. His final years were plagued with ill-health and he suffered from arteriosclerosis. He died on 19 November 1952, just a month after his 61st birthday, and he was the second of the eight banned players to pass away.
Charles "Swede" Risberg was considered one of the ringleaders of the plot, and after his banishment he continued to play semi-professional baseball for almost a decade. After his acquittal, he travelled to Minnesota in 1922 with a travelling team called the Maesaba Range Black Sox. This team also consisted of two other disgraced former White Sox players, Happy Felsch and Lefty Williams, and he played throughout the Mid-West and Canada. In 1926, he was called to testify about a 1919 gambling scandal which involved Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, and although he could offer no evidence regarding the incident, he did claim to having collected money from other White Sox players to be passed on to the Detroit Tigers so they would intentionally lose some games. There is much doubt concerning his story because over 30 other players contradicted his testimony and it was disregarded. During the 1927 season he was playing with another travelling team called Dellage's Cubans, which were based in Lignite, North Dakota. After his outlaw league career ended, Risberg went to work on a dairy farm and eventually ran a tavern and lumber business in the Northwest of the United States. During his time playing in the major league, he was spiked by an opposing player and the injury never properly healed and he eventually had to have his leg amputated. He lived out the rest of his life in Red Bluff, California where he died aged 81 on 13 October 1975.
Oscar "Happy" Felsch recevied $5,000 for his part in the fix, which was more money than his entire regular season salary of $2,750. Incidentally, 1920 was both his last and best season in the majors, and he hit .338 with 14 home runes and 155 runs batted in. After he was permanently banned from organized baseball, Felsh travelled in 1922 to Minnesota where he played with a travelling team called the Maesaba Range Black Sox, which consisted of his former White Sox team-mates Swede Risberg and Lefty Williams, and played throughout the Mid-West and Canada. Flesch would spend the next 15 years touring the country, playing with various semi-professional and amateur teams, including the Montana Outlaws in 1925 and 1926, the Regina Balmorals of the Southern Saskatchewan Baseball League in 1927, in Virden, Manitoba of the Winnipeg Senior League and lastly in Plentywood, Montana in 1928. When he decided to quit playing baseball, Felsch opened up a grocery store as well as several drinking establishments. He settled in Milwakee with his wife Marie and their three children, and there he died from a liver ailment, just five days before his 73rd birthday on 22 August 1964.
George "Buck" Weaver was only one of two players to successfully sue White Sox owner Charles Comisky for his 1921 salary. In a bid to regain his old position, Weaver applied six times to have his lifetime ban lifted, without success. One such attempt was made in 1927, during the aftermath of the Ty Cobb/Tris Speaker betting scandal, in which both men were cleared of any wrongdoing by Judge Landis. This was despite there being proof in the form of letters written by Cobb to former pitcher and outfielder Smokey Joe Wood, in which Cobb had allegedly orchestrated a Tiger victory over the Indians to win a bet. When Weaver's attempt failed, he returned to Chicago and decided to play in the minor leagues again. Many years after the Black Sox Scandal, a New York City attorney contacted Weaver and promised to get him reinstated. Weaver sent all of his legal papers and correspondence to New York, however they were never returned, and his legal papers have never be located. Weaver was the third of the eight suspended Black Sox players to pass away, dying from a heart attack at the age of 65 on 31 January 1956 in Chicago, Illinois.
Joseph "Sport" Sullivan had a long history of gambling on sports, from which he earned his nickname. A bookmaker and gambler in the Boston area, Sullivan bet heavily on the 1903 World Series, and had attempted unsuccessfully to bribe Boston Americans pitcher Cy Young to fix the games. He was arrested for gambling on baseball in 1907, and soon began an association with New York Mob Boss Arnold Rothstein. In September 1919, it was Sullivan who met with Chick Gandil at Boston's Hotel Buckminster, where they conspired to fix the World Series. It has long been disputed which of the two men initiated the meeting, but it was Sullivan who met with Rothstein to organise the financial backing to bribe the White Sox players. Rothstein allegedly provided Sullivan with $40,000 to be distributed to the players, but the gambler kept $30,000 for his own wagering and gave the rest to Gandil. After the Black Sox Scandal was exposed, Rothstein arranged for Sullivan to flee to Mexico so he wouldn't be called upon to tesitfity before the Grand Jury. As a result, he was never arrested nor appeared at the subsequent trial, which ended in acquittal for all those involved. But Sullivan's involvement was well known, and during the 1926 World Series, he appeared at Yankee Stadium and was recognised by Ban Johnson, who had police escort him form the stadium. Sport Sullivan died aged 78 in Sharon, Massachusetts on 6 April 1949.
Arnold Rothstein, the alleged financial backer of the fix would go on to have a successful criminal career, which culminated in prohibition era organised crime. Rothstein saw the lucrative opportunities for business and soon diversified his activities into bootlegging and narcotics. His associates would smuggle in liquor along the Hudson river, and he was one of the first to illegally import Scotch Whiskey into the US. He also wielded significant political power, and became a strong ally of Tammany Hall in the running of New York City. He was often found on the corner of Broadway and 49th Street in Manhattan, where his office was located, and from where he conducted his business on the street, surrounded by bodyguards. By 1925 he was one of the most powerful criminals in the country as head of the Jewish Mob in New York, and became a mentor to future crime figures such as Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano and Frank Costello. On 4 November 1928, Rothstein was fatally wounded during a business meeting, and despite repeated attempts by police, he refused to identify his assailant and died two days later. His shooting was allegedly linked to an outstanding gambling debt, which he refused to settle, claiming the poker game was fixed. His murder was retribution for failing to pay the debt, and gambler George "Hump" McManus was eventually arrested for his murder but later acquitted for lack of evidence. At the time of his death, and because of his notoriety, Rothstein's murder was known as the "Crime of the Century".
Written by Nucleus