Eliot Asinof’s notes for his signature baseball book, Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series, were released to the public recently, and some folks have gone through them. Some Chicago lawyers, actually. And a subsequent article in the Chicago Lawyer Magazine (now, there’s one magazine I never thought to read) raises the question of whether Asinof really knew enough to write such an authoritative book.
It turns out that he didn’t have copies of the transcript from the Black Sox grand jury proceedings. He never spoke to Shoeless Joe Jackson, Chick Gandil or Eddie Cicotte, and his book was primarily based on media accounts of the day. A couple of the figures in the book were actually fictional.
As anyone who saw the movie Field of Dreams knows, Jackson played very well during the Series and his participation in the fix has always been in question. Perhaps only baseball historians care about this issue, but it would be a shame if Jackson’s historical reputation was primarily influenced by a book with questionable references.