Sunday, October 9, 2011

F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Who is he anyhow, an actor?" . . .
"No, he's a gambler." Gatsby hesitated, then added cooly: "He's the man who fixed the World Series back in 1919." 
"Fixed the World Series?" I repeated. 
The idea staggered me.  I remembered, of course, that the World Series had been fixed in 1919, but if I had thought of it at all I would have thought of it as something that merely happened, the end of an inevitable chain. It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people -- with the singlemindedness of a burglar blowing a safe. 
From The Great Gatsby.  The character that Gatsby is speaking of was based on Arnold Rothstein, a New York gambler who was the kingpin of the so-called "Jewish mafia" and the brains behind the conspiracy to fix the 1919 World Series.

On this date in 1919, the Chicago White Sox -- known to baseball fans ever since as the "Black Sox" -- lost the eighth and deciding game of the Series to the Cincinnati Reds, 10-5.  (The World Series was a best-of-nine contest in 1919, 1920, and 1921, before reverting to the more familiar best-of-seven format in 1922.)

Rumors that the Series had been fixed dogged the White Sox throughout the 1920 season, and a grand jury was convened to investigate in September of that year.  Although the players who were accused of conspiring with gamblers to throw the Series were acquitted by a Chicago jury in August 1921, the newly appointed commissioner of baseball -- the former federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis -- banned the eight Black Sox from organized baseball for life.

Chick Gandil, Black Sox ringleader

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