Baltimore Positive WNST 1570 Nestor Aparicio Interviews Baseball Historian Dr. David Fletcher. We all know about cheating in baseball and the biggest scandal in the history of the World Series. Now over a century later, baseball historian David Fletcher tells Nestor everything he did not know about Shoeless Joe Jackson and Black Sox scandal and his new book.
The Joe Jackson vs Chicago American League, Never-Before-Seen Trial Transcript book, is now available through Eckhartz Press.
The Amazing Story and Trial of Shoeless Joe Jackson
Originally aired August 7, 2023
Nestor Aparicio 00:01
Looking back at WNST, Towson, Baltimore, Baltimore positive we are positively into our 25th anniversary we’re gonna be giving away these Maryland lottery scratch-offs. We had $100 winner a couple of weeks ago Coco’s we’re gonna be at Pappas, and not the Pappas and Cockeysville. Were up and going to the Pappas in Parkville. Where I’ve Been or the Pappas and Bellaire that we began and open then we’re going to get the papists in Glen Burnie later on in the month, or we’re gonna be down there with Anna Rundle county executive Steuart Pittman, I hope everybody stops by says hello have a delicious crab cake on the Maryland crab cake door. That will be on the 29th of the month. Also some other great guests joining us that’s a Tuesday. It’s also brought to you by our friends at Window Nation 866 90. Nation we’re into the summer months I’m celebrating the one year anniversary of my new windows at WNST. And we love the Windows and highly recommend our friends at Window Nation. This guy up joined me out about a year or two ago, he’s an author and a baseball historian. He has lots and lots of links to the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. And, you know, I still go there and get a pizza from time to time. My last names on the wall at the Comiskey. So I love that part of it. David Fletcher is not only a doctor, he’s also a baseball historian and an author. And really when it comes to the history of the game, David, I had you on talking about the Dick Allen and the South Side of Chicago and maybe a little bit of Phillies and why he’s not in the Hall of Fame. He did a book on that. And then there’s the even older history. And there’s been a lot of that going on around here as we dive into. I’ve done things on Negro League history in the last month out in Kansas City. But this is a Black Sox Scandal sort of more than 100 years later now, and unearthing facts and stories. And going back and looking at the history of baseball. Dave, it’s great to have you on. I’m glad guys like you and Ken Burns are out there digging this stuff up to give us interesting stuff to read.
David Fletcher 01:57
Thank you so much. Obviously, I see the app radio name on the wall when I’m out there at the at the ballpark. So you should be proud of your family’s legacy.
Nestor Aparicio 02:09
Well, it’s the reason I’m in America. So you know, I beat long and hard all the immigration stuff here the last couple years. Just as an aside, I came this close. I’m on the internet right now and the jerseys a little too big for me. But I’ve been in like sort of retro mode lately. And I found this 69 White Sox Aparicio gray with the pinstripe blue, and the white lettering that was on the 1970 baseball cards. It was so and I’m this close to picking up the number 11 and putting it on. It’s a little wool. So it’s little bit more of a winter feel to me, but I love the history of baseball and things that remind us of the history of baseball. And listen, I mean, whether it’s steroids and I was in those locker rooms as a nationally syndicated host back in the turn of the century where Andrew Steen diode and Sammy Sosa is now Caucasian. I mean, baseball history writes itself differently. But 100 years later, this Black Sox Scandal is sort of the scandal that all others are held up to in sports. And now that we get into wagering, and we talk about all this Big Papi with the hose and bedding and all of this stuff that’s going on now makes me shudder for where the history of sport has been for scandal. And I guess I’ll let you pick this up because this is your story. And your book has nothing to do with this year’s White Sox or the Dylan C’s or the Orioles lease. This is old school and you have to have a real passion. Dr. Fletcher to well want to take a deep dive, tell everybody about the thesis of what you’re after in this because I’ve been up to Cooperstown. And this is something that baseball and people in baseball much like the steroid scandal would rather not talk about it, right people write books about?
David Fletcher 03:52
Well, the book that my co-editor Jacob Pomrenke, who’s the editor of SABR, and I put out is about the Joe Jackson 1924 trial, where he sued Charles Comiskey for his backpay was 100th anniversary is next year. It’s the final centennial celebration of the Black Sox Scandal. And what we published only about 10 people in the world had ever seen before. We published a 658-page transcript, which is 330,000 words of the actual testimony given in this trial in Milwaukee almost 100 years ago, and it’s a fascinating read. You’ll never see it again because the owner of baseball exposes his finances, and then you have the most iconic accomplished player of his time, who was banned from baseball forever testifying at that trial. And it’s a fabulous read it reads like a movie script and the sad thing is I’m gonna give a spoiler alert to your audience. But at the end, Joe Jackson is thrown in jail at the end of the trial. He’s thrown in jail because he committed perjury. His testimony that he gave before the 1920 Grand Jury in Chicago, was read back to him. And he gave different answers. And so because of that change in his responses to questions, the judge throughout the verdict, which was in favor of Joe Jackson getting around $16,000 back pay and held him for perjury.
Nestor Aparicio 05:37
It gives me in a thumbnail pretend on your grandson and say who was shown Shoeless Joe, what are black socks? I heard a white socks and red saw. Like it takes me back to that time that my father was born in 1919. I do not know a lot about this scandal other than it was scandalous, right? I mean, it’s like you knowing about the great potato famine. You hear about it, but you don’t read about it. You don’t you know, unless you know about it or have a movie. I mean, I knew the Titanic sunk. I didn’t know the story till I saw the movie. In regard to that period of time. I think in corruption prohibition, baseball’s the biggest thing going right like Babe Ruth is friggin Babe Ruth at this time, right. And we’re getting out of a World War, right. I mean, we’re about to go into your roaring 20s. I tell me about baseball then. And why Shoeless Joe Jackson’s even someone that I’ve heard of.
David Fletcher 06:36
Well, baseball was hurt by World War One. It almost didn’t play the 1918 season. They ended up having a shortened season, the season ended of that year, in September, early September of 1918. That’s when the Chicago Cubs won the National League pennant, but they played the World Series that Comiskey Park against the Red Sox. It’s believed that that series was fixed as well as the Cubs took money to lose that world search the Red Sox. In fact, that was the idea for Eddie Seacott one of the White Sox pitchers to pitch to gamblers about that his teammates could be had, if you would pay them money to lose the World Series. So come on.
Nestor Aparicio 07:23
money were they making and how much money was the bribe? I mean, I And again, all of this sounds like funny money. When you say $100 You’d like you do that $400 was, you know, probably 10 weeks pay for a lot of people in this country at that time, right?
David Fletcher 07:38
You’re correct. I mean, the ballplayers, salaries were low, but they were still bigger than everyday Americans. Joe Jackson in 1919, was making $6,000 Even though he was with a premier player Eddie Collins, whose second basemen was making $15,000 He was the highest paid players in baseball at that time. But they had small salaries. And so they were being offered $20,000 hours a piece to roll on the World Series, which was a sizable amount of money. And Eddie Seacott caught who was the ringleader? Along with Chick Gandil. He, in using his money to pay off his mortgage for a farm in Detroit. It was all motivation by greed.
Nestor Aparicio 08:27
Okay, so they lost they threw the World Series they got paid by the mobsters, right that all this happened, right? How did they get caught?
David Fletcher 08:34
Well, how they got caught was that it was pretty well known that even before the World Series had started, that something was going on the betting odds that changed the White Sox 9019 team was very dominant. They’d won the World Series in 1917, 1918. Lot of the players including Joe Jackson, served and naval shipyards, rather than military service. So their team was decimated 1918, 1919 They’re a fabulous team. And they won the World Series and won the American League pet to play the Reds in the World Series. And the betting odds suddenly changed before the World Series is because it was not a very well-kept secret. And the problem was is there were multiple gamblers who are involved everybody thinks of a guy named Arnold Rothstein was was involved but he really wasn’t directly involved. And so you just had a lot of rumors swirling around, and you know, people didn’t keep their mouths shut, and so it was kept under the hat until about September of 1920. The world series ended October 9, 1919. The White Sox lost game eight. So the series was a nine-game series so they lost five to three games. There was reports in a Local horse racing horse racing club publication called Collier’s Eye that did name names right after World Series, the same web players had been reached, what kind of money they got and where the payoff was. But that publication was ignored because it wasn’t mainstream. And baseball did their best to keep this buried, to not bring the scandal to light. And it didn’t really come to light until late 1920 season when William Veck senior who was the president of the Cubs brought to the attention of a fix that was being done between the Cubs and a Phillies game. And that started a grand jury investigation about baseball and gambling. And because of that grand jury that was convened in Chicago that led to the exposure of the players who were involved in the Black Sox Scandal, the first person to actually testify with Eddie Seacott, and then it was Joe Jackson. This is on September 28, 1920. And the final day was Lefty Williams, those three actually testified before the grand jury and admitted that they took money for this participation in the plot.
Nestor Aparicio 11:17
You know, it’s interesting, I think, Chicago 1919 1920 1921. You know, first day comes as Capone, right. And I’m like, I wonder if Yeah, I mean, Capone was right there, right? Like, and I think about Chicago being mobbed up at that period of time and how ballplayers would be a target for this. This this book that you’ve put forth, and this tomb of information from this trial, that it got to this point, tell me what Shoeless Joe was looking for in regard to money after the fact of his guilt, right. I mean, he was guilty, right?
David Fletcher 11:57
He was guilty. He took the money. There’s no doubt about that. He took the money and actually talks about his wife testifies as well. What they spent the money on was his Joe Jackson sister’s medical bills, ironically. Okay. And they
Nestor Aparicio 12:11
known as this branded person, but he was not an awful human right.
David Fletcher 12:16
He was not, you know, he was,
Nestor Aparicio 12:18
he was a great baseball player, right? Well, he’s
David Fletcher 12:20
a third-best batting average of all time. 356. So I think it speaks for itself.
Nestor Aparicio 12:27
He would be spoken of like Babe Ruth and like Lou Gehrig in not a productive way. Had he just been a ballplayer on the back of his bubblegum, his Gowdy card?
David Fletcher 12:36
That’s correct. That’s correct. You know, yet he still had several years ahead of him with his career. I mean, he you know, he was one of the best players natural swing babe. Ruth said he copied his swing off Joe Jackson’s swing. But he basically got caught up in this he was sort somewhat used. He wasn’t a ringleader in the fix of the eight players. They needed his name. He, when he confessed, he always said he played to win. But he did tell the grand juries Judge Charles McDonald, who did testify in his trial, as in this book. They didn’t always play as hardest during the World Series, but he had a fabulous World Series Baseball Bat 375 was the best average and the series had the only home run in the World Series.
Nestor Aparicio 13:27
But he wasn’t thinking, well, he
David Fletcher 13:30
Statistically he wasn’t tanking. In fact, what’s interesting about how the case is laid out, is they have expert witnesses, which are AP reporters, talk about his play, and they did not see anything was suspicious. Obviously, he testified he did not do anything to take away his team’s ability to win. So that was how
Nestor Aparicio 13:54
How did they lose? How did they throw it? Well, I mean, how do you throw a nine-game series?
David Fletcher 14:01
Well, how you throw over nine Game World Series is to have the two of the players they had were their pitching staff. And so one of the problems again, you talk about, you know, World War One that the times, just like now we’re coming out of a pandemic, in 1919. We’re coming out of the pandemic of the Spanish flu in 1918, 1919. And the star pitcher Red Faber who won three World Series games against New York Giants in 1817, had gotten flu in the Navy, and he was somewhat debilitated he could not pitch because there was medical issues in the 1919 World Series, or the White Sox would have obviously won the series of they had Red Faber on in their pitching staff. So basically Eddie Seacott was a first game pitcher was a signal that he he was to walk the first batter. He actually hit the first batter. I was sort of signaled to the gangsters that were involved in this, that the fix was odd. And he basically there was some wildness of his pitching. There was a couple of plays that he miss played. It’s not obvious it’s subtle. In fact, there’s actually film that came out a few years ago, and actually shows one of the famous plays 1919 first game where you really question about, was this deliberate or not. So basically the pitching and they didn’t have anything on the ball. The catcher Ray Sock, who’s in the Hall of Fame for the White Sox catcher, you know, he got, you know, in the face of SEC cut first game, second game when he Lefty Williams. He had one inning or he walked a lot of some of these guys weren’t in on it. Yeah, yeah. I mean, he only had eight players that were that were that were in on it. Yeah. And the
Nestor Aparicio 15:47
other guys had no idea that it happened. Literally, they, they were pissed. They lost the World Series, and he probably more pissed that their teammates took all this money. Yes, they’re ready to roll on their teammates at that point right
David Fletcher 15:59
there. They were cutting a bunch was called the clean Sox. And so they
Nestor Aparicio 16:05
I’m learning by the way, if you just tuned in David Fletcher’s here, I just want to promote the book. I love learning because I don’t really know what the story is. Joe Jackson, plaintiff V Chicago American League ballclub defending the never seen before trial transcript from this 1924 courtroom trial against the Chicago White Sox and team owner Charles Comiskey in the aftermath of the infamous Black Sox Scandal. So I’m just trying to put the movie together as best I can Dave.
David Fletcher 16:36
Well, that’s understandable. It’s I mean, it’s it’s a very complex story, but it’s a basic story of greed and American heroes that, you know, become somewhat tainted. The whole story the natural was sort of fashion after the Joe Jackson character of being tainted by gangsters. And so you know, sort of like a Robert Redford S type of situation. So it’s a fascinating story. The other pitcher Lefty Williams, he lost three games in the World Series, including the eighth game, where he was allegedly threatened before the game, if he didn’t lose it. Because the White Sox were coming back, they won Games six and seven. And oh, gangsters. Were getting nervous. People were getting nervous because they were coming back. And so that was sort of the pressure on some of the participants in the fix because the testimony of players was that they stopped trying to lose after game two. And so credibly, the only evidence is that the White Sox players who were involved only deliberately lost game one, two and eight. And so it was going to be very interesting. If there had been a game nine there was going to be a game nine in Cincinnati, and Dickie Kerr who won Game three pitched one of the best World Series performances ever in winning game three was going to pitch game nine. So a lot of fascination is in the series did not have any off days, they traveled between the trains and Queen, Cincinnati and Chicago. And it just it was different era. And so this is, you know, insights story about this big scandal and I think the big thing about it is it really exposes the front office of the White Sox. Comiskey testifies, Harry Grabner, his trusted Secretary General Manager testifies and even Alfred Austrian, who I call the Michael Cohen fixer for trials Comiskey. His lawyer testifies in the trial. And so it’s just a fascinating was Comiskey in audit. Comiskey was not in it at all. Of course not. It was his business. He got decimated his life was wrecked with this. He always has been blamed for paying low salaries to his players. But actually his player is salaries were higher than most other American League owners. He was not in a he ended up having his franchise pretty much be decimated, even though they made some good attempts. Later to reboot the franchise athletes, players got kicked out of baseball. But it was a devastating situation for him. He was a co-founder of the American League, and he had a big feud with the American League President Ban Johnson. And that had a lot to do with the scandal.
Nestor Aparicio 19:30
Well, the book is fascinating. It is literally it’s word for word transcript. Right? I mean, that you went back to this period of time and sort of unearth this thing as a historian, right?
David Fletcher 19:41
That’s correct. There’s only been the the actual transcript was in the office of of the grandson of the lawyer, Raymond Cannon, who represented Joe Jackson in his trial, and I had first seen it in 2003. And a copy was given to Jerome Holtzman American, the Major League Baseball historian And I ended up purchasing it from Jerome Holtzman in 2007. And I just decided it was important to get it out there in the public domain. And so we basically the actual transcript from the stenographer was almost 1700 pages we you know we
Nestor Aparicio 20:16
double space baby
David Fletcher 20:18
oh yeah but if we put it you know in Word we made some editorial corrections as far as content explaining some people it was a very, very fascinating document we provide background about it we list who all the attorneys were the exhibits, and so forth. And it’s just it’s a great
Nestor Aparicio 20:39
legal piece right if you’re in law school, you’re that person that this is I’m sure it’s thick, and it’s a little late, right? Yeah. Real thick, thick, and a little bit weirdly antiquated like in a 100-year-old kind of way. Right? Well, we
David Fletcher 20:55
got we got another Todd Radom cover. Todd just absolutely just rocks it you know, he’s got this legal last cover like this with that’s
Nestor Aparicio 21:02
gonna catch me by the way. Todd came in Baltimore last week and went to the game and didn’t call me by the crabcake. So Utah right now, he made some Philadelphia I’ll get it back.
David Fletcher 21:13
So anyway, this is a I says great job and being basically, you know, everyone thinks they know the story about this, you know about the scandal. And I know I’m educating you now. So but this is the first document out there of all the books on the scandal that really uncovers the truth is because we actually have the words of Charles Kaminsky and Joe Jackson, is what they strengthen our mouths when they told the courts, you know, they’re under oath. And we’re making this thing public for the first time ever, and its book changes everything about knowledge about this, and it’s especially relevant today, because of Major League Baseball’s embracement of gambling, that’s what’s so ironic.
Nestor Aparicio 21:53
Well, I mean, Pete Rose, thanks. So too. David Fletcher is here, you can go check this out. You can find it at Eckhart Press. That’s ECKHARTZ. Press. I’ll throw a link up as well about this. This story. Last thing, because I need to know this and my audience that doesn’t want to Google How did it end for Shoeless Joe? I mean, I’ve seen the artifacts and whatnot in Cooperstown. What happened? He went to jail, right,
David Fletcher 22:22
but went to jail for one night, he got released. And he was had to come back was supposed to them to have a trial on his perjury. He never went back to Wisconsin. If he had set foot in Wisconsin, he would have been arrested. And so he stayed out Wisconsin the rest of his life. And he ended up not getting the money from Comiskey The jury award him 16,000 Didn’t get that and he went back to Savannah, Georgia and he had a very successful career as a businessman. Even though he was illiterate. He was very smart and he ran several businesses even when he was in the White Sox. He ran a very successful pool hall business the very very famous quote Jerome Holtzman said about Joe Jackson may have been illiterate and couldn’t read but he certainly could count and he was referring to the fact you know he did take the money you know, which you know obviously made him guilty as far as part of the participation
Nestor Aparicio 23:14
baseball and gambling it’s a big pop he’s got the hose out now all this stuff’s going on. Hey next time I have you on and next book that you decide to write that’s not about Dick Allen or about that. I mean, you really are sorry, are you working on another project? I bet you always are.
David Fletcher 23:29
I am I’ve got we got a sequel to chili dog coming up, called Comiskey Park Demo the last years of the pallet baseball Palace, the world it’s about the whole 1980s and about getting a new Comiskey Park all the background with that really fascinating story. It kind of starts off with the Disco Demolition and the winning team, but basically goes to 1990. And then the triptych third part of the series is about the 91 to 94 White Sox. And I even have a Cubs book coming out.
Nestor Aparicio 24:00
Well, I mean, from I’ll come out eat some pizza with you. I’ll take you to quads Absolutely man.
David Fletcher 24:06
We gotta we gotta get we gotta get Todd with this because he he’s my man does covers no one does better baseball illustration art that he does.
Nestor Aparicio 24:15
You know, he got involved on my Facebook. Somebody brought his name up, because I was I was literally in a bar. I’m at the Emerald tavern. It’s 11 o’clock at night, and I saw Otani up and they were wearing the Angels, the Nolan Ryan Frank banana the way God meant for the Gene Autry meant for them to be with the big angels and yet they had the throwbacks on and I put a picture up and I’m like, Who would screw with what Disney person are already Moreno would mess with the perfection of the angels 70s 80s uniforms and someone said, well, Todd got involved and I’m like, I love Todd, but there’s nothing wrong with with that. And Todd got into my thread about it. So we got all this stuff going when I tell Todd that I think this 69 white socks, a gray and white and blue. So have them on and by the way next time I have him on are you on I hope to at least be wearing that Aparicio throwback that I’ve been eyeing up for like 15 years and thinking that would look good on me if I could just get it for like under 200 bucks, so I’m trying to find it. But I love the nostalgia and anytime you want to bring me a little piece of baseball history, that gives me a chance to talk about Dick Allen or whatever. I’m all about it. Dave.
David Fletcher 25:28
Thank you so much for having me on. Again. It’s a lot of fun.
Nestor Aparicio 25:31
I love talking baseball, and I love talking South Side of Chicago baseball, and I especially love stuff that I don’t know the real story like I know Shoeless Joe. I know Black Sox. I know more now than I did 20 minutes ago. You can know more if you invest in Joe Jackson plaintiff V Chicago American League ballclub defended the never-seen-before-trial transcript now soon to be 100 years old. We are not soon to be we are we’re 25 years old at WASD Thank you very much for celebrating your anniversary here all week all month on here. I’m going to spike the ball. Dave. next six months we’re doing these 25 stories of glory of WNSt. It’s all presented by our friends at the Maryland lottery I’ll be giving these away on the 29th of the month at Papist at Glen Burnie with Stuart Pittman and Rowan county executive also brought to you by our friends at wind donation 866 90. Nation a way to find that big celebration at cost this bigger celebration at drug city as we go into our 26th year with the Orioles in first place, pennant race, new starting pitcher and Jack Flaherty, and some great baseball stories ahead. We are WNST am 1570 towns to Baltimore and we never stop talking Baltimore positive.