Ninety years ago today, the saddest chapter in baseball history turned its final page.
In 1919, the Chicago White Sox infamously threw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, agreeing to take money from gamblers in exchange for letting the Reds win the Fall Classic. At the time, arrangements like this were not exactly common, but were certainly not unheard of either. Some ballplayers, most notably National League first baseman Hall Chase, helped engineer the throwing of regular-season games.
At any rate, after the Sox lost the 1919 World Series five games to three, rumors swirled for nearly a full year that the games hadn’t been on the up-and-up. Near the end of the 1910 season, the story broke in earnest.
Chicago pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams as well as star slugger Joe Jackson admitted they’d conspired to throw the Series in exchange for money. A grand jury indicted them, along with five teammates: Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, Happy Felsch, Fred McMullin, and Buck Weaver.
The trial occurred the next year in 1921, highlighted by the admission that the prosecution had lost the signed confessions by Jackson, Williams, and Cicotte. As the 1921 baseball season wore on, so did the trial.
On Aug. 2 the trial ended, and the jury quickly reached a verdict after two hours deliberation: Not guilty. In fact, the jurors then lifted the ballplayers (or at least some of them) on their shoulders and marched them around the courtroom.
At a banquet hall celebration that night for the players, it turned out that—coincidence upon coincidences—the jurors had a banquet going on in the room next door, so they all celebrated together. Gee, you don’t think that had been pre-arranged, do you? Not that there would ever be any hanky-panky with the Cook County legal system…
At any rate, on Aug. 3 new baseball commissioner Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis issued a statement that the players wouldn’t be able to play baseball. American League president Ban Johnson issued a similar statement separately.
This leads us to Aug. 4. After saying the day before that the players wouldn’t be able to return, Landis made his definitive ruling. The eight members of the Chicago “Black Sox” who went on trial were officially banned from organized baseball for life. He declared, “They can’t come back…the doors are closed to them for good.”
90 years later, the ban remains in place.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim:
3,000 days since the Rangers, for the first time in their franchise history, sweep the Yankees in a three-game series in New York.
4,000 days since police arrest Tampa Bay pitcher Bryan Rekar for domestic battery.
4,000 days since Brian Daubach has the best one-game WPA performance by any batter in Red Sox history. He’s 3-for-5 with a homer, a run, and four RBI in a 7-6 win over the Angels. His WPA: 1.251.
4,000 days since Davey Johnson manages his 2,000th game. He’s 1,124-873 at this moment.
4,000 days since Barry Larkin collects his 2,000th hit.
6,000 days since the first exhibition games in spring training 1995 feature replacement players.
7,000 days since Little League founder Carl Stotz dies at age 82 in Williamsport, PA.
7,000 days since San Jose voter say no to a plan to build a new stadium in their town for the Giants.
10,000 days since Charlie Lau, the best-regarded batting coach of all time, dies.
15,000 days since Reds shortstop Woody Woodward belts the only home run in his career. It’s his 684th game played.
30,000 days since Ty Cobb steals home for the 35th and final time in his career.
1867 Hall of Fame first baseman Jake Beckley born
1883 The Giants all-time franchise record bottoms out at nine games under .500 (28-37). It’s their debut season.
1884 Pud Galvin tosses his second career no-hitter in one of the most one-sided no-hit contests ever, 18-0 Buffalo over Detroit.
1890 Dolf Luque, 200-game winner, born.
1897 A fan throws a beer stein at umpire Tim Hurst and hits him in back. Enraged, Hurst throws it back at the fan, but hits the wrong guy flush in the face, knocking him out cold. A melee ensues, and the NL will fire Hurst.
1910 One of the greatest pitchers duels ever takes place, as Ed Walsh of the White Sox and Jack Coombs of the A’s tangle for 16 innings in a 0-0 draw. It’s called for darkness, so neither pitcher gets a win. Walsh allows six hits in the day, but Coombs tops that, allowing three hits while fanning 18.
1911 White Sox shortstop Lee Tannehill has two unassisted double plays in one game. No other shortstop has even had two in one year, but he has two in one game. Unfortunately, the Sox lose anyway, 1-0 to Washington.
1913 Big league debut for Billy Southworth, who will have a nice playing career before a Hall of Fame managerial career.
1914 Red Sox owner Joseph Lannin offers the use of his Fenway Park to the Boston Braves. This offer is never accepted.
1914 Cleveland infielder Bill Wambsganss makes his big league debut. He’s most famous for pulling off an unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series.
1923 Hall of Fame infielder Travis Jackson (who doesn’t belong in Cooperstown, but that’s another story) has probably his best day ever at the plate. He’s 4-for-5 with a double, home run, and eight RBIs as the Giants clock the Reds 14-4.
1926 Wilbert Robinson manages his 2,000th game. He’s 1,003-980 in his career.
1927 In the Negro Leagues, Joe Strong of the Baltimore Black Sox tosses an 11-inning no-hitter.
1929 Down 6-5 with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, the Indians launch an amazing rally, scoring nine runs to trump the Yankees, 14-6.
1931 The Cubs purchase future Hall of Fame second baseman Billy Herman from Louisville (AA) for $50,000.
1932 Yankee catcher Bill Dickey returns to the lineup after a 30-day suspension and promptly belts a grand slam.
1932 Charlie Grimm manages his first game in the major leagues. In two months’ time, he manages his first World Series game.
1933 Mel Ott joins the 1,000-hit club in style, going 4-for-6 with a pair of walks.
1934 Mel Ott scores six runs in a game as the Giants pummel the Phillies 21-4. He’s 4-for-4 with a walk, HBP, double, and two homers. He’ll score six runs in a game one other time later in his career. Today’s game is also his seventh multi-home run game of the year. Also in this game, Phillie relief pitcher Reggie Grabowski surrenders 11 hits in the ninth inning.
1935 Walter Johnson resigns as Indians manager, ending his big league managerial career.
1937 For the second straight day, Bill Dickey blasts a grand slam.
1937 Gabby Hartnett’s best hitting streak maxes at 24 games, easily his longest such one.
1937 Joe Medwick ties a record by clubbing four doubles in one game.
1938 Hitless wonder Ray Oyler is born.
1939 Mike Kreevich of the White Sox has a day from hell, hitting into four straight double plays against Washington.
1940 Hall of Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan hits his 100th career triple. He also gets No. 101 for good measure.
1940 The Reds dedicate the game to backup catcher Willard Hershberger, who just committed suicide. Cincinnati beats Boston, 12-9.
1941 Jimmie Foxx hits his 12th and final walk-off home run in 7-6 Boston win over the A’s. A dozen walk-off home runs is still tied for the all-time record.
1941 Dodger catcher Mickey Owen handles three foul pop-ups in the third inning versus the Giants.
1942 Cleon Jones born.
1943 Roy Campanella and Negro League pitcher Dave Barnhill are supposed to try out for the Pirates today, but owner William Benswanger cancels it by mail.
1945 Washington Senator Joe Cleary pitches his first, last, and only game in the majors, surrendering seven runs while recording one out for a career 189.00 ERA. Yeah, that’s bad. He’s also the last major leaguer to be born in Ireland. The Red Sox win, 15-4. One Boston batter, Tom McBride, gets six RBIs in one inning off a double and triple, each with the bases loaded.
1946 Joe Medwick belts his 200th home run.
1948 Ernie Harwell broadcasts his first big league game. Jackie Robinson steals home as the Dodgers beat the Cubs, 5-4.
1950 Pitcher Harry Coveleski, brother of Hall of Famer Stan, dies.
1953 Jim Piersall embarrasses himself getting picked off. The shortstop asks him to kick the dirt off second base during the old hidden ball trick.
1953 Yankee pitcher Vic Raschi drives in seven runs in one game, an AL record for pitchers.
1954 The best WPA home run Jackie Robinson ever hit (at least as far as we know: WPA goes back to 1950 only). He blasts a two-run shot with one out in the bottom of the ninth for a 8-7 Dodger win. The swing is worth 0.783 WPA.
1955 Ernie Banks belts three home runs in one game, each off a different pitcher, as the Cubs top the Pirates, 11-10.
1955 Roy Campanella enjoys his best (known) WPA game: 0.916 WPA. He’s 3-for-5 with a double, home run, two runs, four RBIs, in an 11-10 win for Brooklyn over the Braves.
1956 Mickey Mantle has his seventh multi-home run game of the year. It’s also his last one for 1956.
1957 Danny Murtaugh manages his first big league game. Like every game he manages, it’s with the Pirates.
1958 Duke Snider has perhaps his worst game ever at the plate: 0-for-4 with four Ks. He has two other four-K games, but those aren’t in four plate appearances.
1959 Orlando Cepeda plays third base for the fourth and final time in his career. It’s his second complete game there.
1960 One of the most infamous brawls in big league history occurs. Convinced that pitcher Jim Brewer intentionally threw a little too inside at him, Billy Martin tosses his bat to the mound after a swing. Walking to the mound to pick up the bat, Martin tells Brewer he’s just going to get his lumber—and then hits Brewer with a sucker punch. In the brawl that ensues, another player breaks Brewer’s right cheekbone. Brewer takes Martin to court over it all.
1962 The Mets release veteran pitcher Vinegar Bend Mizell, ending his career.
1962 Roger Clemens born in Texas.
1962 In the California League, Visalia pitcher William Dawson fans 21 Reno batters in a 7-4 win.
1963 In the book Ball Four, Jim Bouton recounts a time Mickey Mantle hit a pinch-hit home despite being incredibly hung over. As noted in this column, based on the information he provides, that shot must have occurred on this day, in an 11-10 Yankee win over the Orioles.
1963 The longest hitting streak of Eddie Mathews’ career peaks at 17 games.
1963 New York Met Roger Craig loses his 18th straight decision.
1964 B. J. Surhoff born.
1964 The San Francisco Giants sign amateur free agent Bobby Bonds
1965 Juan Marichal wins his 100th game, fanning a career-high 14 in the process. He tosses 10 innings, allows 12 hits, three runs (all earned) and walks three. Marichal’s career record is 100-47.
1967 MLB announces a three-year, $50 million deal with NBC for the World Series, All-Star Game, and 28 weekly telecasts.
1967 Pete Rose plays his last full game at second base.
1968 Umpire Emmett Ashford has a brain fart. He calls time and when asked why, he notes the first baseman still has the ball. Thus, he ruins a perfectly good hidden ball trick.
1968 To honor Stan Musial, the Cardinals unveil a 10-foot bronze statue of him. This was before teams were unveiling statues on a semi-regular basis.
1968 Ernie Banks has his worst WPA game, going 0-for-6 with a strikeout, two GIDP, and one reached on error for a –0.458 WPA.
1969 The Red Sox franchise record hits .500 (5,164-5,164) and it’s remained over. 500 ever since.
1970 Mickey Rivers makes his big league debut.
1971 Bob Gibson wins his 200th decision (200-126).
1971 In the Texas League, Tom Walker of the Dallas-Ft. Worth club pitches a 15-inning no-hitter over Albuquerque. He’ll make the majors the next season but have a rather unremarkable career.
1972 The Royals sign amateur free agent (and toothpick aficionado) U L Washington.
1973 Bob Howry born.
1973 John Briggs becomes the first Milwaukee Brewer to collect six hits in one game.
1975 Eric Milton born.
1976 Larry Bowa connects for his 1,000th career hit.
1976 Willie Stargell suffers through his worst ever WPA game: -0.378 WPA by going 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a walk. However, the Pirates win, 2-1, over the Cardinals.
1978 Vida Blue ties a personal best with his 10th straight win.
1979 Phil Niekro’s knuckleball is knuckling a little too much, as he tosses six wild pitches, including four in the fifth inning. Right after that inning, the Braves switch catchers. There’s an immediate improvement, as Niekro only tosses one wild pitch in the sixth inning.
1979 Seattle’s Ruppert Jones hits a foul ball that sticks in a speaker in the Kingdome and won’t come down.
1980 The longest hitting streak Andre Dawson ever has maxes at 19 games.
1980 Maury Wills becomes baseball’s third black manager when the Mariners hire him. He turns out to be a historically bad hire.
1980 Shortstop Rafael Ramirez makes his big league debut.
1982 Joel Youngblood has a memorable day, collecting hits for two teams. He gets one for the Mets against the Cubs in a day game, and then after being traded, reports to the Montreal Expos (his new squad) and nails a hit against the Phillies.
1983 Dave Winfield accidentally kills a seagull with a warmup throw in the mid-inning break in the fifth in a Yankee-Toronto game. When reporters question after the game if the throw was intentional, Yankee manager Billy Martin defends Winfield by noting he couldn’t have intentionally done it as he hasn’t hit the cutoff man all year.
1985 The Yankees retire the number 10 for longtime shortstop Phil Rizzuto.
1987 Dwight Evans blasts two homers in a game for the second time in three days.
1987 Steve Carlton endures his worst Game Score: 3. His line: 4.2 IP, 11 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 1 K.
1989 The Angels trade Roberto Hernandez and a minor leaguer to the White Sox.
1989 Dave Stieb is one out from a perfect game against the Yankees, only to allow a double and then a single. It’s the third time he’s come one out from a no-hitter, and he has yet to get one.
1991 Andy Hawkins pitches in his last game.
1991 Mike Mussina makes his big league debut.
1992 Charlie Sheen purchases the Bill Buckner ball from the 1986 World Series for $85,000.
1993 Tony Gwynn connects for six hits in a 12-inning game. The game ends when Pedro Martinez (no, not that one) hits a walk-off sacrifice hit with the bases loaded for an 11-10 San Diego win over San Francisco.
1994 Rich Gossage appears in his 1,000th game.
1995 “Rowdy Richard” Dick Bartell dies.
1995 Pedro Martinez (yes, that one this time), walks a career-worst seven men in one game.
1996 The Atlanta Braves end their 17-game, 20-day road trip caused by the Summer Olympics.
1998 Carlos Delgado bangs out three home runs.
1998 John Smoltz has his best day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a run.
2003 Frank Thomas collects his 2,000th career hit.
2003 MLB announces they have a five-year deal worth over a half-billion dollars for global licensing of its apparel and headgear.
2004 Albert Pujols hits his fourth career walk-off home run.
2004 The Cardinals announce their next stadium also will be named Busch Stadium.
2005 The Orioles fire manager Lee Mazzilli.
2006 The Orioles trade Javy Lopez to Boston.
2007 Alex Rodriguez hits his 500th career home run.
2009 Albert Pujols hits his fifth slam of the year and 11th of his career.
2010 Thirteen days after his 599th homer, Alex Rodriguez finally hits No. 600.