Of all the seminal moments in Major League Baseball history, the 1919 Black Sox scandal is likely the greatest. If not for the scandal, there would be no commissioner; Pete Rose would likely be in the Hall of Fame, and; discussions around whether an MLB club should be in Las Vegas might have one less distraction.
The fixing of the 1919 World Series is featured in the latest edition of Major League Baseball Productions’ Triumph and Tragedy: The 1919 Chicago White Sox, airing on MLB Network this Saturday, November 13 at 9:00 p.m. ET. The documentary recounts the events that led eight members of the White Sox - Eddie Cicotte, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Arnold “Chick” Gandil, Oscar "Happy" Felsch, Fred McMullin, Charles "Swede" Risberg and Claude "Lefty" Williams – to become part of a gambling scheme in advance of the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds and turn what could have been a dynasty into one of the most infamous clubs in Major League Baseball history.
Beginning with the players' involvement in the fixing of the series and leading to their later expulsion from baseball, Triumph and Tragedy details the appointment of the first commissioner of Major League Baseball and the steps taken to preserve the game, and role of Babe Ruth in ushering an new era and reinvigorating the sport.
Using photos that have never before been seen on TV, MLB Productions also incorporated player recreation for the first time and gathered new interviews with historians, writers and authors Ken Burns, Frank DeFord, Dr. Susan Dellinger, Robert Lipsyte, Bill Madden, Bert Sugar and John Thorn. The show also features a reading of original MLB Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis's judgment against the "eight men out," read by MLB players Josh Hamilton, Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez, journalists DeFord and Sugar, and MLB Network's Barry Larkin and Al Leiter. Triumph and Tragedy is narrated by MLB Network's Matt Vasgersian.
Highlights of the episode include:
- “One of the greatest tragedies in the history of the sport took place in that Fall Classic.” – Ken Burns
- “Judge Landis’s announcement was succinct and forceful. Basically, it laid the ground rules for a new era in baseball.” – Bert Sugar
- “People still say that if Babe Ruth did not come along at that time and started hitting home runs, that baseball might never have recovered its honor.” – Frank DeFord
- “I couldn’t imagine entering a game where there were rumors of my teammates or players on the other team fixing a game. I think it’s great what Judge Landis did so many years ago because this game is played for the fans. If we don’t have integrity, if those fans don’t know that were playing with 100 percent to win every single game, then they’re not going to show up anymore and we don’t have a game.” – Mark Teixeira
- “The "Black Sox" scandal in its way strengthened baseball. The idea that baseball can go through a crisis, can clean itself up, could come out strong and seemingly pure at the other end, I think gave America the sense that this really was indeed our game.” – Robert Lipsyte
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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