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Blog Entry

Did Cubs throw 1918 World Series to Red Sox?

Posted on: May 16, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 1:14 pm
 
Red Sox

By Evan Brunell


The Black Sox scandal of 1919 continues to reverberate throughout baseball, as there is zero acceptance of gambling in the game, and for good reason as no sport wants its championship game, the premier accomplishment in the game, to be sullied by players who accepted money to purposely lose.

Now, there are rumblings that the previous year's World Series of 1918 was fixed. The Red Sox famously won that Series, the last until 2004, while the Cubs' World Series drought extends all the way back to 1908.

“It seems more likely that there would have been a fix than there would not have been,” the author John Thorn, the official historian for Major League Baseball, told the New York Times. “It would be surprising if it didn’t come up. At that time, the connection between baseball players and gamblers was that strong.”

There is no proof that such a fix was in place, but comments by disgraced White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte and the confounding play of Cubs' right fielder Max Flack. Cicotte said in his deposition about the Black Sox scandal that his teammates had discussed how one or more Cubs were offered $10,000 to fix the Series, which is a shade under $150,000 in 2011 dollars. (That's still relatively peanuts to baseball players these days, who clear the $1 million barrier fairly easily as big-league players, but keep in mind, back then, baseball players got paid little, not well over what regular jobs pay.)

“From the beginning of Game 4, things started to look funny, or wrong, on the field,” author Sean Deveney, who authored a book titled The Original Curse about the possibility of a 1918 World Series fix said. “The first three games had been tight and well-played. The next three games had all these strange blunders.”

In addition, the play of Flack seems to indicate he either had a very bad series or was one of (if not the only) these players offered money to take it. Flack is the only big-leaguer to be picked off a base twice in the same World Series game, doing so in Game 4. He would then play Babe Ruth shallow in right field despite being waved back repeatedly by his pitcher. Ruth would bang a two-run triple that the Cubs would tie in the eighth. But then Cubs pitcher Phil Douglas fielded a sacrifice bunt and threw wildly into right, allowing the eventual winning run to score. (Can't consider Douglas part of the conspiracy, although it's possible, but throwing wildly happens. It's called an error.) Douglas later was barred from baseball for life in 1922 by writing a St. Louis Cardinals player while starring with the New York Giants and suggesting he would retire and leave the team if paid to do so. Both teams at the time were in a tight playoff race.

As deplorable as it may sound to throw a game these days, back then, baseball players may not have had much choice. World War I ruined America's economy, slicing baseball players' pay in half from already low levels and the 1919 season was already unofficially canceled, leaving many out of a job for what at the time was thought to be years; the Brooklyn Dodgers had already agreed to rent out Ebbets Field to the government in 1919 for use as a storage facility. In addition, when the Series ended, players expected to put their life on the line by being drafted into the war effort which was only avoided by the war's end in November. But back then, halved pay, lack of a job for the next year and the prospect of heading for France's shores all combined to create a tough environment that gamblers tried to take advantage of when racetracks were shuttered.

"If you look at the various factors, not the least being that the likely next stop for the players was the front lines of France’s Western Front, you can see how even honest men might have been driven to cheat," Deveney added.

Gate receipts from the 1918 World Series game were extremely poor as many top players had already been drafted, so attendance was poor. This development caused the Red Sox and Cubs to consider refusing to play Game 5 without meeting the owners to try to extract more pay. The game was played after owners promised to meet, with the Cubs winning. In Game 6, Flack dropped a fly ball in the fourth with two out, allowing two Red Sox players to score in the Series-clinching 2-1 victory.

All sounds damning, right?

Except again, there's no proof.

“There isn’t anything inherently suspicious to me,”  Bill Lamb, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research who is on the Black Sox scandal research committee, said. “You’re telling me the right fielder threw the Series? Seems to me you would want the pitcher or the catcher instead.”

The former 33-year veteran prosecutor added: "I am aware people do bad things, but just because something is conceivable doesn’t make it so. Where’s the proof?"

The Cubs return to Fenway Park for the first time since the 1918 World Series on Friday night.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Photo thanks to the New York Times.


Comments

Since: Sep 2, 2006
Posted on: May 17, 2011 2:35 pm
 

Did Cubs throw 1918 World Series to Red Sox?

More New York propaganda.I know they are still hurting from that '04 beating Boston gave them, but to go back that far is ludicrious
We all know that the Red Sox had help winning in 2004 and 2007. Lets be real. Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez, Trot Nixon, Kevin Millar, Gabe Kapler, Keith Foulke, Doug Maribelli, Doug Mientkiewicz, Bill Mueller, Kevin Youkilis, Curt Schilling and Trot Nixon are all suspected users....



Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: May 17, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Did Cubs throw 1918 World Series to Red Sox?

More New York propaganda.I know they are still hurting from that '04 beating Boston gave them, but to go back that far is ludicrious.



Since: Jul 18, 2008
Posted on: May 17, 2011 12:32 pm
 

Did Cubs throw 1918 World Series to Red Sox?

(Yawn). Knowing what we know about the Cubs, they probably wouldn't have won anyway.



Since: Aug 5, 2008
Posted on: May 17, 2011 10:53 am
 

Did Cubs throw 1918 World Series to Red Sox?

In 1971, Eddie Murray couldn't buy a hit as the Orioles blew a 3-1 series lead and lost to the Pirates in 7 games.

Eddie Murray didn't start playing for the O's until 1977.  He was only 15 in 1971.





Since: Aug 5, 2008
Posted on: May 17, 2011 10:51 am
 

Did Cubs throw 1918 World Series to Red Sox?

Eddie Murray didn't start playing for the O's until 1977.  He was only 15 in 1971.



Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: May 17, 2011 8:27 am
 

Did Cubs throw 1918 World Series to Red Sox?

This was horrible.  To make speculation on a dropped fly ball and a guy getting picked off?  All because of the era's problems.  I love this site, but that was probably one of the worst stories I've read on here.  It's like saying Carl Crawford is in with the Rays to help us lose games now, with the way he's been playing and what his track record proves.  But, there's no proof.  You see what I'm getting at.  Don't start taking bits and pieces of a World Series and try to say it's fixed because the year after, a team flopped.  Seems like you should be covering the drama about Posada, never mind baseball history.



Since: Apr 8, 2009
Posted on: May 17, 2011 8:09 am
 

Did Cubs throw 1918 World Series to Red Sox?

This post and the original blurb post a couple weeks ago both had all the clarity of a bigfoot video.  It had all the undeniable facts of a blurry photo of a frisbee pretending to be a UFO.  I believe somewhere in there was evidence of the Lost City of Atlantis.  but it wasn't completely worthless, while reading this article I had time to scratch my butt.



Since: Jun 3, 2007
Posted on: May 17, 2011 2:28 am
 

Did Cubs throw 1918 World Series to Red Sox?

The 2nd gunman on the grassy knoll(Billy Sianis) outside of Huntington Ave. Grounds aiming at Hippo Vaugn and Fred Merkle missed his mark. He was too busy screwing  the mother of Murphy the goat that he later named his Chicago tavern after,the . The Cubs still lost. The parents of Steve Bartmen later met at this fine establishment and had a love child. Steve's seat (Section 4, Row 8, Seat 113) was purcased by III for 2003 NLCS. Joseph J. "Sport" Sullivan III had placed his entire fortune on the Florida Marlins. He cleaned up that night.

 





Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 6:56 pm
 

Did Cubs throw 1918 World Series to Red Sox?

There are so many cases where a key player had a bad world series or where a clearly better team lost that we could do one conspiracy each week.

The Koufax-Drysdale Dodgers lost four straight while being outpitched by the Baltimore Orioles in 1966.

The "Amazin' Mets" then whipped the 109-regular-season-game-winning Baltimore Orioles in 1969.

In 1971, Eddie Murray couldn't buy a hit as the Orioles blew a 3-1 series lead and lost to the Pirates in 7 games.

And that's just the ones the Orioles were involved with!



Since: Dec 10, 2010
Posted on: May 16, 2011 4:13 pm
 

Did Cubs throw 1918 World Series to Red Sox?

OK, so when was the last REAL Championship for the Roid Sox?????? UTTTTT OHHHHHHHHHH!
That's real good.  When are we going to see an asterics next to Dimaggio's hit streak record?!  That's tainted as any thing in BB history; and even more, takes aways from any player that has had a ~30 game hit streak.  

Baseball is perfectly imperfect.  You can debate or discuss anything about the game's history, but someone can always point out your contradiction and hipocrisy.  The game is a perfect example of the behavior, attributes and metaphor of this country's history, present and future. 

Either just enjoy the game and it's history for what it is or continue wasting time stiring up BS that leads to nothing except some self satisfaction of trying to rouse strangers.  

To answer a potential comment sure to come..yes, I do see my own contradiction and hipocrisy from what I stated.  I believe this proves my point.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com