The Betrayal

The Betrayal

The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball

Book - 2016
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In the most famous scandal of sports history, eight Chicago White Sox players--including Shoeless Joe Jackson--agreed to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for the promise of $20,000 each from gamblers reportedly working for New York mobster Arnold Rothstein.Heavily favored, Chicago lost the Series five games to three. Although rumors of a fix flew while the series was being played, they were largely disregarded by players and the public at large. It wasn't until a year later that a general investigation into baseball gambling reopened the case, and anationwide scandal emerged.In this book, Charles Fountain offers a full and engaging history of one of baseball's true moments of crisis and hand-wringing, and shows how the scandal changed the way American baseball was both managed and perceived. After an extensive investigation and a trial that became a national moralityplay, the jury returned not-guilty verdicts for all of the White Sox players in August of 1921. The following day, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, baseball's new commissioner, "regardless of the verdicts of juries," banned the eight players for life. And thus the Black Sox entered into Americanmythology. Guilty or innocent? Guilty and innocent? The country wasn't sure in 1921, and as Fountain shows, we still aren't sure today. But we are continually pulled to the story, because so much of modern sport, and our attitude towards it, springs from the scandal.Fountain traces the Black Sox story from its roots in the gambling culture that pervaded the game in the years surrounding World War I, through the confusing events of the 1919 World Series itself, to the noisy aftermath and trial, and illuminates the moment as baseball's tipping point. Despite theclumsy unfolding of the scandal and trial and the callous treatment of the players involved, the Black Sox saga was a cleansing moment for the sport. It launched the age of the baseball commissioner, as baseball owners hired Landis and surrendered to him the control of their game. Fountain shows howsweeping changes in 1920s triggered by the scandal moved baseball away from its association with gamblers and fixers, and details how American's attitude toward the pastime shifted as they entered into "The Golden Age of Sport."Situating the Black Sox events in the context of later scandals, including those involving Reds manager and player Pete Rose, and the ongoing use of steroids in the game up through the present, Fountain illuminates America's near century-long fascination with the story, and its continuing relevancetoday.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Oxford University Press,, [2016]
ISBN: 9780199795130
Branch Call Number: 796.3570977 FO
Characteristics: viii, 290 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm


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PimaLib_NormS Mar 16, 2017

Even the most casual of baseball fans know about the Black Sox. In Charles Fountain’s new book, “The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball”, a little more detail emerges about the heavily favored Chicago White Sox intentionally losing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Certainly, a great deal of this material has been covered before. There is not a lot of new evidence left to comb through, after all, it has been almost a century. Much of the author’s focus is on the men who ran baseball at the time. It was they who created the circumstances that led to a group of players deciding not to give their best effort in baseball’s signature event in return for a promised big payoff. In those days, the team owners ignored the gambling element that was around the game. There were no big money contracts, no free agency, and if a player did not like the pittance he was offered, well, the owners would go get someone else. This is not to excuse the players involved, however. Eight members of the White Sox met with some gamblers and agreed to throw the Series for money. It all became public and the players were banned from baseball for life. They paid a price for what they did. In “The Betrayal”, Charles Fountain does not absolve the players, rather, he explains why and how the Black Sox scandal happened.

Dec 27, 2016

There is something about sports that gets people caught up in the thing; the Stanley Cup finals, the Super Bowl and not least, the World Series. We like to think that fair play rules. Alas that it were so! Remember game 5 of the 2015 ALC? The Rangers committed three egregious errors in the bottom of the 7th inning to give the Blue Jays the series win. As a Jays' fan I was ecstatic; as a skeptic I had to wonder.
Pro-sport is big business. ‘The BETRAYAL’ underscores this truth in spades. We read of crooked owners, crooked players and crooked gamblers. We read of cheaters being cheated and cover-ups being covered-up. Owners colluded to keep players salaries low; players, feeling cheated and powerless, looked off-field for extra compensation. Both sides had a warped sense of entitlement! Ah, the failings of human nature!
This is not a book for someone looking for an overview of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The account is complex and difficult to follow: lots of details, names, meetings and conjecture. I came away doubtful that anyone will ever get to the whole truth of the affair.


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