Listen to the Black Sox Scandal Panel discussion from July 8, 2023, SABR51 meeting with Jacob Pomrenke and Dr. David Fletcher as they discuss their new book about the 1924 Shoeless Joe Jackson v. Chicago White Sox Trial and what is revealed in the Never-Before-Seen Trial Transcript.
Joe Jackson Plaintiff versus Chicago American League Ballclub Defendant: The Never Seen Before Trial Transcript
Chicago, Illinois, Palmer House Hilton, Black Sox Scandal Committee Meeting
Saturday, July 8, 2023
Jacob Pomrenke: Welcome to the Black Sox Scandal committee meeting. My name is Jacob Pomrenke, and beside me is David Fletcher, who’s a longtime SABR member and founder of the Chicago Baseball Museum1. I am the chair of the Black Sox Scandal Committee and also do a few other things around here for SABR. I know some of you have to head out for the bus tour soon. So we’re going to get to the fun stuff now, before a few of you have to leave, and then we’ll take some questions. We also have some books available in the vendors room, and we’ll be over there after this panel is over to sign a few as well if you want to buy some.
So for about 100 years now, I’ve been hearing the question, what more can we possibly learn about the Black Sox Scandal? Every once in a while, some of us return to a stage like this and we say, well, about that, we’ve got something new. In the 21st century, we’ve discovered a few really cool resources like contract cards that are at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which have allowed us to find out player salaries from the 1919 season and compare them with other players. We’ve also discovered film footage of the 1919 World Series that was thought to have been lost forever. I believe a few of you were in Houston at the SABR convention to dissect a three-second clip over and over again of Game One of the 1919 World Series. We’ve also discovered partial transcripts of the 1920 grand jury and also the 1921 criminal trial. Those documents are now at the Chicago History Museum2, and you can go see those as well.
Today, we’re excited to announce yet another big discovery and new information about the Black Sox Scandal that probably will have some relevance in the 21st century, given sports gambling and the betting landscape today after the US Supreme Court decision in 2018. You, of course, cannot watch a baseball game today without seeing ads for sports books encouraging fans to bet on the game. So it is all still very, very relevant. And so we’re going to talk a little bit about what happened 100 years ago and tie it in a little bit to what’s going on today as well.
Today, we’re excited to talk about our new book, which just was released last week by Eckhartz Press. It is Shoeless Joe Jackson versus the Chicago White Sox3. First of all, show of hands really quick. How many of you have ever heard of this trial from 1924? All right, a pretty good showing. I hope it’s in part because of some of the work of our SABR Black Sox Scandal Committee over the last few years.
Ten years ago, Bill Lamb, a Bob David’s Award winner, published a book called Black Sox in the Courtroom4. He was able to view a private copy of the trial transcript [Editor’s note: That is the transcript that was eventually used for this book.] which is now available for everyone else to see. But we estimate about 10 people on the planet have ever seen this transcript before now.
So we’re going to talk a little bit about how this transcript came about; why we have a copy of it; and how this book came about. [for us to talk about today]. David, first of all, let’s talk a little bit about this trial. What was it? How does it fit into the entire Black Sox story?
Dr. David Fletcher: Sure, Jacob. I’m glad to see so many people out there familiar with the story about the 1924 trial. This is the only trial where there was actually cross-examination under oath. The grand jury5 situation before was not that type of situation. The criminal trial, three of the players who had given confessions did testify (Jackson, Cicotte, and Williams), but that wasn’t really under cross-examination, it was about the process of that they had given testimony appearing before the grand jury. So this is the first time all the parties are under the oath and talking about the key incidents in the scandal. And so [this basically] this book has the sworn testimony of the most accomplished [player, the] star player, Shoeless Joe Jackson.
He had signed a three-year deal to play for the White Sox in February of 1920. And as everybody knows he got suspended from the White Sox on September 28, 1920, and didn’t play in the ‘21 or ‘22 season, got banned for life. But he had a contract, and he wanted his back pay, and he got the interest of a firebrand attorney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who was also a baseball player, named Raymond Cannon. A very colorful figure who went to law school at Marquette. He played baseball himself as a pitcher and he was friends with Happy Felsch. The reason why a Milwaukee-based attorney [could] sued the Chicago American Baseball Club was because the White Sox corporate headquarters or their charter was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They were not an Illinois Corporation. [They were after they got sued in these cases,] So this trial was held [had to be] in Milwaukee.
[So] It was a trial that really should never have happened; Comiskey should have settled this case beforehand. He did offer something like $2,000 for it to go away and it didn’t happen. This is the only real document in baseball history where so much is exposed from the front office about salaries, negotiations, and things like that. And so the fun thing about this transcript, and this is a big book, so if you buy one you’re going to get a hernia carrying it, it’s 330,000 words. It compiles 16 days’ worth of testimony all together. It started in late January ’24 (January 29, 1924) and went to Valentine’s Day of 1924. It was national news, front page in the New York Times, heavily covered in Chicago. It was a very, very prominent historic trial. So that gives you a little bit of background. I think the significance for the Black Sox Committee, this is the final centennial celebration of the Black Sox Scandal, because after 1924, except for that brief thing in ‘27 when you had the White Sox paying the (Detroit) Tiger players incident come up, this is the last hurrah.
Jacob Pomrenke: We’ve spent five years celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Black Sox Scandal. I promise you this will be the end of the centennial commemorations.
So let’s back up a little bit and put this into context as far as the Black Sox Scandal itself, just to give you a little bit of a timeline of where this all fits in. Obviously, the World Series happened in 1919, Cincinnati Reds beat the White Sox in five games to three, it was the best-of-nine back then, and that happened in 1919. And then, of course, another full season was played in 1920 and it wasn’t until the end of the 1920 season when the Black Sox Scandal was exposed and that happened because there was a grand jury that was called in Chicago, and originally, they were investigating a Cubs versus Phillies game. and then it evolved into an investigation of the 1919 World Series. And so, September 28, 1920, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte both testify and basically confess their involvement, and that was what really kind of what broke it all open. So, in 1921, a criminal trial was held, they were all indicted6 on conspiracy charges, the eight ballplayers and also five gamblers were indicted. And so they were found not guilty by the jury, which then proceeded to celebrate with the Black Sox players at a restaurant on the west side of Chicago that was owned by an associate of Al Capone. Because, hey, it’s still Chicago. And then the very next day, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis banned them all for life, so they never played professional baseball again. So that was (August) 1921.
The following season began, the Black Sox players are gone, and May of 1922, is when the Black Sox players basically hooked up with Ray Cannon in Milwaukee. Happy Felsch filed the first lawsuit, and then Swede Risberg, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver also filed suit . So four of the eight Black Sox filed breach of contract suits against the White Sox trying to get back pay.
None of the other three went to trial, but Shoeless Joe’s did, and this is a scene that is almost incomprehensible today. Imagine a star player in the major leagues today suing his former team, and it is actually going to trial and players, owners, executives, all being forced to testify under oath. 7That would never happen today, Major League Baseball would not allow it, it would get settled so quickly. And so the fact that this trial even exists, is something that is out of the history books, really. And so the fact that we have a record of it, a record that was long thought to be lost, is really incredible. And to have this out there and to be able to put this out and let other people, other researchers see it and see the testimony and read it for yourself, it’s breathtaking to know that this type of record exists, this type of primary source documentation exists. And for a room full of researchers, I know you can appreciate just having something like this out there is really incredible.
David, I want to talk a little bit about how you first discovered this transcript and how you were able to find a copy of it yourself.
Dr. David Fletcher: Sure. Great question. So I think everybody knows the late Gene Carney. He was, what we like to say the B-Sox trail master. It’s around the time he became friends with Jacob in the early 2000s. He was really following the trail on the Black Sox, thought there was a big cover up. And he was aware of the trial in Milwaukee, but there was nothing out there, there was no literature about it, there was no information, a little bit had come out in the Gropman book8 about it, but not in any detail. There weren’t transcripts available. It wasn’t something in any of the historic trials that was there even though this was a huge national story. It just didn’t exist. There wasn’t anything out there. So we had gotten the coverage from the New York Times, Milwaukee papers and it was very interesting how it was covered. An interesting tidbit the same time Joe Jackson’s on trial, Adolf Hitler’s going to trial a couple of weeks later. We will talk about this in the companion book Shoeless Joe vs Charles Comiskey: A Courtroom Duel Amid a Not-So-Roaring Twenties America that we got coming out in early 2024.
So, we knew the only person in the world who had the transcript was the grandson of Ray Cannon. There was an attorney named Tom Cannon up in Milwaukee. So, Gene and I reached out to him. The same time I was becoming friends with Elliot Asinof. We started having suspicions about the accuracy of Eight Men Out based on the research we had done. So we really felt that going to Milwaukee was important. Tom was wonderful. I can remember picking up Gene at the airport, and it was like he died and went to heaven. Hopefully he’s there now (in heaven). But he was so excited when we got this box of all the transcripts, exhibits, pictures, and stuff like this. He just meticulously took notes, and so did I. But he really got it. And so that was sort of the foundation for his book Burying the Black Sox. Originally his title was going to be “Never on a Friday.” And so that Milwaukee trial was his first chapter and that was sort of the whole push that led to this committee and all the discoveries [we] happen with this was the Milwaukee trial. And so he felt he got all this inside information. We couldn’t get a copy of it, Mr. Cannon wasn’t going to allow us to take it out of the office, so we took as many notes as possible.
Later that fall (late August 2003) Gene and I hooked up with Elliot Asinof and talked to him and asked, “Why didn’t you go up to Milwaukee and look at this transcript that was available?” because he was told by Judge Hugo Friend, who was one of the biggest sources of his book (Eight Men Out), that he could go up there and get that, but he didn’t do that.
So anyway, flash forward to 2007, I was working on this Chicago Baseball Museum project, and I got to be really close to Jerome Holtzman (the late first MLB historian) and Jerome Holtzman absolutely loathed Joe Jackson. He thought Joe Jackson was as guilty as could be, and wrote a book, Baseball, Chicago Style: A Tale of Two Teams, One City, that came out about Jackson and said he was guilty. He made some kind of comment, “I know he’s illiterate, but he can certainly count,” when he talked about the $5,000 (the amount Jackson got in the fix). So Jerome, when he wrote this book, he got a copy of the transcript (from Tom Cannon).
In 2007, Jerome’s health was failing and I’m looking to seek out a foundation collection for the museum project. He’s offering to sell all his books, papers, periodicals, he had every Sporting News, Sports Illustrated bound since the mid-50s, incredible collection. TheNew York Times called it the best private collection of baseball reportage in the world9. So we ended up acquiring it for a very princely sum. In that collection was the transcript, the second copy that existed. So people knew that I had gotten it and I had allowed researchers to use it. In fact, for his book Bill Lamb’s reviewed a copy we had. So I kept waiting to see if Mr. Cannon would do something with the transcript in the future, to donate to the Hall of Fame or some other organization like SABR. Finally, Jacob does a presentation in Springfield for historic trials, the Illinois Supreme Court at the Lincoln Museum, and I hook with him, and I say, “We got to do something. It’s 1924, the 100th anniversary is coming up. We got to put this transcript out.”
And so that was sort of the project we basically started last October (2022). We worked our fannies off to take the transcription from seven big bound books and put it into the form we have now. We kept the typos in as far as the spellings because Jackson had misspelled a lot of things from his dialect, and we kept that in there. We just really felt this was something that had to come out to researchers. And it’s really a fascinating read because it’s like a movie script, because the end, Joe Jackson is thrown in jail. That’s the climax.
Jacob Pomrenke: Spoiler alert.
Dr. David Fletcher: It’s really good because it has all the main characters in there from Bill Burns to Maharg, to Comiskey, Harry Grabiner. It’s got Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, it has all the main characters, it has a story out there. It’s just a fascinating read because it just provides so much information. I think one of the things I like the most is the fact that in the transcript, I call Alfred Austrian, the Michael Cohen of the White Sox, the fixer and they talked all about Bert Collyer. They got information from Bert Collyer, who the names were that were involved in the scandal. That never came out before. And so it’s something, if you have interest in the story, this would give you a whole new perspective. You can just read one witness for a while. We’ve got it divided day-by-day. We’ve got the exhibits listed, about 55 exhibits, something like that. We’ve got all the different attorneys, and the witness list and stuff like that.
Jacob Pomrenke: So speaking of Alfred Austrian, who is the White Sox corporation counsel and also for the Cubs, as well, it’s really fascinating to read testimony from front office executives, and also to see them be cross-examined and asked questions by Shoeless Joe’s lawyers [as well]. Those were pretty hostile days on the witness stand. So let’s talk a little bit about Charles Comiskey and Alfred Austrian, and Harry Grabiner, who was essentially the general manager of the White Sox. His title at the time was secretary. All three of them, three high-ranking White Sox officials, testified in this case. Can you talk a little bit about what they revealed, and more about their team finances, team operations, and also the spying on the Black Sox players that they authorized?
Dr. David Fletcher: One of the other witnesses is the detective, Hunter and his crew, who went out to California10, went to Milwaukee11, and never went to Savannah, Georgia, just basically try to uncover information about the finances of the Black Sox players that were involved and so forth, including some of the stuff about Swede Risberg having a girlfriend and stuff like that, which is pretty salacious kind of stuff. They [were treated] acted like they were a corporation; they had dishonest players; they were protecting the brand; they wanted to investigate what was going on. And that was important to the White Sox. The theory that Ray Cannon had representing his client was the White Sox didn’t have a case about not paying Joe Jackson because of the World Series scandal. They knew that he got the 5,000 bucks and so they accepted that when they offered him a three-year deal in February 1920 after the World Series[, it] concluded.12 So Harry Grabiner is a key character in it, going down how he got Joe to sign a contract. All of us know about Jackson, he was illiterate, could he sign his name, could he not? This gets into such minutiae [where] you have two handwriting experts testify about his signature, so it gets into that.
But I think some of the fascinating parts are the fact that the two court reporters who took the transcription for Lefty Williams and Joe Jackson’s grand jury testimony talk, and they talk about how they recreated the testimony for the ‘21 criminal trial. A big myth [about] perpetrated by Eight Men Out [especially in the movie] is that suddenly [at] the grand jury testimony of Jackson appears from George Hundall’s, who was the Comiskey attorney, [representing them, his] briefcase13. And that was far from the truth because in the ‘21 criminal trial they use the transcripts and it’s part of the public record. I think if you’re interested in this, those are the things that are fascinating [is], how they did their investigation, what they uncovered, and what they tried to do with it.
Jacob Pomrenke: If you remember the movie Eight Men Out, you might remember the dramatic courtroom scene in which the prosecutors inform the court that the player grand jury confessions are missing [White Sox lawyers bring out other briefcase, what they call the stolen confessions of Shoeless Joe Jackson]. And somehow this was supposed to have led to the acquittal of the players. [Supposedly,] This is the myth, why they were acquitted in 1921, because the confessions were stolen, and then later on, they reappeared. It was at this trial in Milwaukee where they supposedly reappeared. But they were never lost in the first place because, as David said, in the criminal trial in 1921, the transcripts were read right [back] into the record and so it was always there all along. Shoeless Joe’s lawyers all knew that the White Sox had a copy, and they could have had a copy too. They were just playing lawyer games. But these confessions were never stolen, and they never dramatically reappeared. An essential part of this trial was would they be admitted as evidence? Would those testimonies be admitted? And they were.
A big part of what you’ll find in this book is the old grand jury testimony being read back to the Black Sox players Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, and Shoeless Joe Jackson, [and Happy Felsch,] all had their old grand jury testimony reread to them, and they were asked about it. Did you make this answer? Did you answer truthfully? Unfortunately for Shoeless Joe [and Happy Felsch]14, when [they were] he was confronted with [their] his old testimony, which again, was under oath, [they both] he said, “No, I never made that answer. I never said that. That’s not true. And no, I didn’t do it. I had nothing to do with the 1919 World Series scandal.” Unfortunately, we know that is not the truth at all. And so that led to the dramatic conclusion of this trial.
Let’s talk first about the jury verdict which came in in favor of Shoeless Joe Jackson and then what happened after that?
Dr. David Fletcher: The jury basically awarded him his back pay for the 1921-1922 seasons. [plus the bonus they were supposed to get for winning the 1917 pennant.] But Judge Gregory, who was a huge baseball fan, set aside the jury’s verdict and basically said that Jackson perjured himself, [and so did Happy Felsch.] So because of that he was thrown into jail, he had a warrant out for his arrest, he went back to Wisconsin, and so he didn’t get his money15. But Jackson would use this as vindication that a jury, “found I wasn’t involved.” And so this is the whole central theme of the transcript, that Jackson didn’t keep his story straight. And I bring up the issue I think that Ray Cannon could have done a better job of preparing his client, he knew that they were going to talk to him about his grand jury. He needed to prep him about what he should respond to and it’s really sad when you read it. Bill Lamb has written an article further on about what Joe Jackson said later in life and I think some of you remember in 2010, [at the SABR convention in Atlanta] Jacob did a great job with Furman Bisher, who did an interview with Jackson in the Forties. And he further changed the story about having a five-year deal instead of a three-year deal.
Jacob Pomrenke: If you read through some of this testimony, the lawyers were almost pleading with Shoeless Joe and with Happy Felsch because they were confronted with not only their old testimony, but also their contracts with the White Sox. And Happy Felsch even denied that that was his signature on his own 1920 White Sox contract. And at one point, Ray Cannon says to Happy Felsch on the stand, “You know, Happy if that’s your signature, just say so,” and Happy still refused to admit anything. And so that was the reason, again, he was cited with perjury. So again, kind of a dramatic conclusion to the trial. Jackson and Felsch both spent some time in jail in Milwaukee before being bailed out. None of the Black Sox really got any money from the White Sox in any of these cases. It was really kind of a sad end. This was really the end of all the legal proceedings. There’s really not much after this in terms of courtroom drama. And, if you’ve read Bill Lamb’s book, he explains and analyzes a lot of why this stuff happened.
Part of the reason this trial happened is because the players themselves had no other recourse whatsoever. There was no players union at the time, although Ray Cannon’s son, Robert Cannon would later help form the Major League Baseball Players Association16. He was its first Executive Director in the 1950s. That was Robert Cannon. [One of] the people that his father represented 30 years earlier had no recourse whatsoever, there was no one they could appeal to, to try to get back on the field. There was really no one they could appeal to in the court system, either. They tried for breach of contract, which is pretty settled law, but they weren’t able to really get anything that way, either. Once Judge Landis said, “You’re out, that was it, they were gone. And that’s obviously something that has changed a lot today.
A lot of people are very upset with how the Houston Astros World Series scandal was handled, and how Commissioner Rob Manfred dealt with the players by offering them immunity. That’s a word that has come up with the Black Sox before, as well. The Commissioner back then, Judge Landis, did not have to do anything, he did not have to play ball. There was no National Labor Relations Board in 1924 and so the players really had no other recourse to do anything. [Not so. At the time there were any number of legal grounds that the Black Sox could have pursued because of their banishment from Organized Baseball. And several such claims were asserted in the un-litigated Felsch and Risberg complaints. The prospects for success here are unknowable but suggested by the pittance that Felsch and Risberg settled for. Also, Cannon did institute a short-lived lawsuit against Commissioner Landis over 1920 second-place money withheld from the Black Sox.] I think as you read through this transcript, if you do, that’s something to keep in mind is that this was kind of a very desperate move by Shoeless Joe and by the other players to try to win back something, they weren’t going to be able to get back on the field, so maybe they could get a little bit of money out of it. And obviously, that didn’t happen, either.
David, as you went through the transcript, what did you find that kind of was enlightening from Shoeless Joe, from Charles Comiskey, from any of the other witnesses? What was it about reading through the transcript that maybe surprised you or that helped you learn some new things?
Dr. David Fletcher: I think the Charles Comiskey testimony is really interesting because he admits about his 1890 brotherhood involvement, the player’s league they had. Talking about it, I think that was very helpful. And I also think his opinion about Jackson as a ballplayer. I think what comes out of this transcript is the expert witnesses for Jackson, in making his case were two sportswriters that said they didn’t see anything that was unusual17. And so that was their basis for saying he played excellent ball, with a .375 average, and had a better World Series in 1919 than he did in 1917. I think just basically hearing how Comiskey thought that he played fair and square in the game, that was sort of the thing that Jackson’s legal team picked up on was, you didn’t see anything that was nefarious, and I should get my money, and so forth. Comiskey’s testimony I really enjoyed.
I think you’ll enjoy the deposition testimony from Billy Maharg because that’s been kind of lost to history. He testified in the ‘21 criminal trial, that’s still one of the holy grails along with Harry Grabiner’s diary that’s still out there. The ‘21 trial, I think we got about 30 pages of the transcript. We don’t have Maharg’s testimony (in the 1921 criminal trial). Reading the testimony he gives, I think it’s very fascinating about the meetings with people, how they did things, and how informal it was. So this is the complete accounting for the key players involved, the management, and then two key gamblers.
Jacob Pomrenke: Yeah, I think it’s really fascinating to go through the witness list. We have a witness list in this book to explain what you’re reading and who’s testifying, and it’s really fascinating because you’ve got four of the Black Sox players out of the eight. You’ve got three White Sox officials, you’ve got sportswriters, you’ve got Shoeless Joe Jackson’s wife, you’ve got a couple of the gamblers, Billy Maharg, and Sleepy Bill Burns. You’ve got the chief justice of the Chicago criminal courts in 1920, Charles McDonald, that’s also interesting as well. And the detective who was in charge of spying on the White Sox players in the offseason after the 1919 World Series. So there’s just a lot of really interesting testimony from a lot of varied characters in this story. I understand it’s certainly hard to keep them all together, which is why we tried to put together some explainers in this book to help put it all into context. But it’s really fascinating to read because they have to answer a lot of questions about their own backgrounds and their own actions, both in 1919 and also afterwards, as well. For me, it was very interesting to read through, again, Charles Comiskey’s testimony, the other White Sox officials, they weren’t just talking about the Black Sox Scandal, they were also talking about their own lives, their own careers, their own families, in some cases. And so to be able to read through that and have that documentation and have it in print forever, I think that’s something that is really invaluable.
We’ve got about 15 or 20 minutes left. Before we get to questions let’s talk a little bit about what you think is possibly the next, as you said, the holy grail of Black Sox documents that perhaps in another three, four or five years, we might hopefully be here discussing today.
Dr. David Fletcher: Well, my number one hit list would be Harry Grabiner’s diary. I think some of you know that I was friends with Fred Krehbiel before he died, Bill Veeck’s uncle (actually he was Bill’s nephew as Fred’s father married Bill’s sister) So, I would just love to see that. I asked Mike Veeck yesterday when I saw him, [words that] I’ve asked his family members, I’ve asked the (Ed) Linn family18, Elliott Asinof said he saw it once when they were doing that ESPN documentary in around 2000. It would be fabulous to find. So I think that’s a key document. And then I think the ‘21 criminal transcript, it’s got to be someplace, and we’ve got scraps of it.19 So those are the two things I think that are out there that would add further to the story. If we could get some more grand jury testimony, we’ve got quite a bit of the Chicago History Museum from folks. We’d love to see the whole (grand jury) transcript for Arnold Rothstein. But this is an important piece that brings it together. And we almost didn’t have this transcript because the Milwaukee court system was going to throw this in the garbage. And believe it or not, it’s got like 20 cashed Joe Jackson paychecks, and a few of them he actually signed. So they were going to throw it in the garbage, and they asked Ray Cannon’s son, Robert, who became a judge and was starting the player pension [before,] back in the fifties before Marvin Miller, he saved it for history.
I think if you have an interest in this, I think this will really be illuminating. It’s a pretty fast read, despite the fact it’s 330,000 words. We broke it up in a very compact, easy-to-read way [how we organized it,] because before the transcript was just transcript pages. It was around 1700 pages and didn’t have any organization. This is nice, especially get the E-book, you can do word search and stuff like this. But it’s something important to SABR because this is the complete story. This gives out more information about the history than any one source.
Jacob Pomrenke: Excellent. So let’s open it up for questions and we’ll talk about this trial, this book, or anything else related to the Black Sox Scandal that you’re interested in.
Q: Yes. Earlier Leslie was talking about how we have to update our findings anytime we find something’s wrong. We have to be willing to admit our mistakes and move on. Get past the myths. I recall you writing something, Eight Myths Out20, which is kind of a good companion to this. I’m almost tempted to just throw out all these Black Sox books that I have. Would it make sense to just kind of go with Lamb’s book and your book as two companion pieces, and just ignore everything before that?
Jacob Pomrenke: I don’t know if you have to ignore everything before that, but you certainly have to put it all into context. In part because authors like Elliott Asinof and Donald Gropman in the 1970s, they just didn’t have access to this information. I think that’s something that’s important to consider. Gropman in particular, his biography of Shoeless Joe, which is called literally Shoeless, I think that’s a very valuable resource because he was able to talk to people who knew Jackson, and so he’s got interviews, he’s got primary sources that no one else was able to get in the 1970s. But he’s lacking in other areas. They didn’t have the contract cards. They didn’t have the grand jury testimony. They certainly didn’t have this trial transcript. So there are pieces to the puzzle that are interesting and valuable to put into context, but we’ve certainly learned a lot more. My hope is that 40 years from now somebody’s reading our work, there’s a lot more new sources of information that said, Well, you didn’t quite get that right. That’s okay. That’s part of research.
Q: Could you speak for a moment if you’ve turned up anything about how the trial was covered and how it was received in Cincinnati, and with the Reds, their players, their staff, and certainly their fans?
Jacob Pomrenke: Well, I would say for this trial it wasn’t covered very heavily in Cincinnati at all. But the 1921 trial, do you want to talk about that?
Dr. David Fletcher: Yeah, in 1921 it was covered in Cincinnati. Cincinnati, we did that in ’04 for SABR-20. A lot of the Reds players had a chip on their shoulder. Reds players, their crown was tainted. I did not see much evidence, any Cincinnati media interest in this. Good question though.
Jacob Pomrenke: But in general, the Reds players were very adamant for the rest of their lives that they would have beat the White Sox fair and square, no matter what. And they very much had a talented team.
Q: Before the 1924 trial, several people were deposed, including Jackson, Williams, and Cicotte. Do we have transcripts of those other than the material that was introduced in the trial? Do we have those full depositions?
Jacob Pomrenke: Yes. All the depositions for this trial, whether they happened in 1923 or ’22.
Q: Even if the material wasn’t introduced in the trial, it’ll still have all of it?
Dr. David Fletcher: Let me answer that question. Some of it is in the book. So, Jackson did a pretrial deposition.21 The transcript itself is actually still at Tom Cannon’s office in Milwaukee. He has the actual transcript. We don’t have that. In the chapter on Ed Cicotte and Lefty Williams, they did not testify live at trial. They (Comiskey’s attorneys) read their deposition transcripts (out loud at trial). In fact, Williams testified twice and both of them are very defiant.
Q: But we have those full transcripts?
Dr. David Fletcher: They are complete. Yeah. So Maharg and Bill Burns did not testify live. Those evidence transcripts were read (and they are part of the trial transcript book).
Jacob Pomrenke: Most of the witnesses who were deposed are included here.
Dr. David Fletcher: One is not, it was Judge Landis. Judge Landis testified in this case, and I did not see that one 20 years ago when I was in Cannon’s office.
Q: Maybe just a clarification question. I heard you say that you didn’t correct any of the spelling errors and that sort of thing in the transcript. And you said something about Joe Jackson’s dialect. Is that more that they couldn’t understand what he was saying, and they probably got it wrong, or was it the kind of stylized like, should of, could of, stuff like that?
Jacob Pomrenke: So we corrected anything factual that was incorrect. We also corrected the courtroom stenographers errors. So they misspelled Lefty Williams in every single case, we corrected that, just human error.
Dr. David Fletcher: And Jacob really did a great job on it. He really deserves so much praise for this. It’s easy for the reader to see when we did that because we have a parenthesis. This is an historic trial. What other baseball case do you have the entire transcript and it’s such an historic event? I think you’ll like that. I would love to have the feedback on that. But I think having that makes it easier to read. We did not change some of the dialect of Jackson and his wife.
Q: You had mentioned that the other Black Sox did not go to trial, even though they sued. What happened to them? Did they settle?
Jacob Pomrenke: They did not settle22. It was essentially consolidated. Jackson’s case was treated as essentially the case that, if he had won, they probably would have pursued their lawsuits. They were essentially dismissed after the Jackson verdict was set aside.
Dr. David Fletcher: So, to give a little more on that question is Felsch continued to pursue his case after he’d been thrown in jail for perjury against Comiskey, and it’s in the summer of 1924. I’m going to write a lot more about this and I know Bruce (Allardice) has talked about this, but Comiskey’s health was not good during the 1919 World Series and also during the 1920s. And so after this trial, the Felsch trials are heating up. They’re going to go to trial, they want to take Comiskey’s deposition, and he’s refusing to come to Wisconsin because he’s ill. He ended up having gallbladder surgery. My day job is I’m a physician. I do a lot of expert witness work and independent exams. And so Cannon was trying to get a judge’s order to have Comiskey examined by a physician in Milwaukee to see if he could stand trial and stuff like that. But they ended up going away. I think I’ve seen the best figures that Jackson did finally settle for, like $2,000. And I know in the Buck Weaver case, he did not use Ray Cannon as an attorney as he actually filed in Illinois court. And so the White Sox defense was Wisconsin corporation, you can’t do it in state court and so his strategy was go to federal court.23 [And so he went to federal court and actually Harry Grabiner really gives a great affidavit in that case. But it did not go to trial, it did settle before trial.
Q: Now that you’ve reached this point in your research, how did your view of Joe Jackson change? And how do you feel about him now?
Jacob Pomrenke: I would say I think originally, I grew up reading Eight Men Out, and I grew up believing these guys got railroaded. I think now I have a little bit more of a nuanced view of, there’s a lot of guilt all over the place. And there’s a lot of blame to spread around. And certainly the players accepted the bribe money. Most of them did something on the field to throw the World Series. Whether Shoeless Joe did or not I think we’ll still be debating for another 100 years. But he certainly took the money, there’s absolutely no question about that. He does admit that in his 1920 testimony that he was confronted with, which is in here. In 1924 he hedges a little bit but his wife Katie also was deposed for this trial and she not only admits that Joe accepted the money, but she also talks about what she did with it. And the bank cashier who deposited it in Savannah, Georgia, was also deposed in this case for about an hour. So he talks about yeah, she deposited this money after the 1919 World Series. So there’s no question about it, he took the bribe money. And for a lot of people, that’s it, that’s the end of the story. If Bill Lamb were here, he wasn’t able to travel to Chicago this week, but if he were here, former prosecutor, he would tell you probably a very different opinion as a prosecutor. But my view, I think, is a little bit more nuanced. There’s a lot of blame to go around. You have to look at the context of gambling and baseball in 1919. There were games being fixed. The Ty Cobb-Speaker scandal was in the fall of 1919, one week before the World Series began. So there’s a lot going on there. And I think you have to understand the context of gambling and baseball to understand why these guys did it, what happened, and how they were treated afterwards.
Dr. David Fletcher: Charles McDonald, who’s the judge that Austrian brought Jackson to go before it went to the grand jury testifies in this case. And he says that Jackson told him, he didn’t play as hard as he could. And obviously, Jackson contradicts it. But as a firsthand witness, and its somewhat hearsay, but at the same time, it was a statement that he gave. A lawyer (Chicago attorney Robert Berliner in the front row of the audience) is telling me I’m wrong in front of me.24
I think there’s sadness with Cicotte and Williams because they just basically shut down, their lives are over with this. It’s very, very dramatic. It’s not a dry transcript. It’s got a lot of drama, a lot of fireworks.
Jacob Pomrenke: This is why we had Bill Lamb read this before it was printed, and a few other attorneys as well, just to make sure all the legal stuff was correct.
Q: I’m interested in the Alfred Austrian issue. I have done conflict of interest training. I’ve done investigations. I also come from Canada so maybe my concepts might be different for what they are in Illinois and Wisconsin. But I’ve had talks with Bill Lamb about this, and he and I respectfully disagree with each other. I think Alfred Austrian was in a blatant conflict of interest at the beginning because, as Bill Lamb correctly says, he’s an employee of the White Sox. His job is to represent the White Sox organization. He knew or should have known that players who don’t have a lot of education might not realize you should have independent legal counsel. So for him to take that action and it take to the courts, I think is a blatant conflict of interest. I know Mr. Lamb doesn’t agree with me at all on that, but I’m interested from the book there what perspective you may have on this.
Jacob Pomrenke: I would love to see you make that case in a future Black Sox (Scandal Committee) newsletter or a (SABR) Baseball Research Journal. One of the reasons we wanted to get this out there is for people with that expertise, and with that type of background, to be able to read this and form your own opinions about Shoeless Joe. Some people are going to read this and say, oh, yeah, this makes Shoeless Joe look even more guilty, because, again, he was confronted with the 1920 testimony. But you might pick up on other things, too. I think that’s one of the big reasons why we wanted to get this out there, so that other people could see this and use this as the basis of future research.
Dr. David Fletcher: Hey, great question. In the 1921 trial, there’s five pages of Jackson’s testimony. I know people have seen that. He actually admits that Alfred Austrian told him to get his own attorney. It’s in the transcript of that. So it kind of shoots that argument about conflict of interest. Some of the legal experts, and I’ve not checked with Mr. Berliner yet about this question, is that Austrian didn’t have a duty to do that. He was there to protect his client. He didn’t have to do a Miranda type of warning to a dishonest employee, if that makes any sense. We’d love to have some more input because we have a companion book, a legal analysis of the trial in the works.25
Q: Jacob, you just brought this up and we talked about this the other day. One other thing is a lot of the research has been focused on gambling in this particular World Series. But we think there’s a lot of other things that were thrown or compromised during that time frame leading up to that. Gambling took place notoriously directly in stadiums. Are there some leads in here or should this committee kind of foster an idea that we need to look beyond just the Black Sox, before some of this other stuff might disappear into history, if there are some other things there? So in part, since you all have been through this, are there any leads in here that you think some of us should be following up on?
Jacob Pomrenke: I would say, not so much on that particular subject in this transcript. But if we ever get a hold of the full 1920 grand jury hearings, oh, I think there’s going to be a ton of stuff because they talked to John McGraw and half of the New York Giants, eight of whom later basically got thrown out of baseball after the 1919 season, not all for game fixing and gambling. They had testimony for three or four weeks about gambling and game fixing in baseball and so trying to further research on that subject we need to get a hold of those grand jury transcripts. Maybe one day.
Dr. David Fletcher: I agree with that. I don’t think we know enough about how much Hal Chase was involved in the 1919 World Series. You look at some of the little tidbits we got in the grand jury. It’s all over, his fingerprints, he had a lot of input into it. Billy Maharg’s testimony talks about Hal Chase.26 I think everybody knows that the Cicotte grand jury does not exist completely though; he is confronted with it, so you pretty much hear it, the first thing he talks about, they got the idea from the Cubs.27
And that’s why in Harry Grabiner’s diary he talks about Gene Packard. So, I think those are the leads. Obviously, this (the fixing of the 1919 World Series) is not the first original sin in baseball, but obviously you have superstar, [it’s] the third best batter in batting average in MLB history, who is out of the game and who has become a mythological character, makes the story more iconic. So that’s what makes it such a special book to read [that,] because this really gives his personality. He testifies over four days in this case and does Comiskey. So you got the two main characters, eight total days on the stand.
Jacob Pomrenke: Two more questions
Q: As you read the transcript was there anything you said, why didn’t he ask this question?”
Jacob Pomrenke: All the time.
Q: Can you give some examples?
Jacob Pomrenke: I think the lawyers’ performances in this case. Obviously, the White Sox counsel did a lot better and had a more successful trial, but there were a lot of situations. Ray Cannon was very, very passionate, he very much wanted to defend Shoeless Joe, but he also had a little bit of an attack dog mentality, especially when he was confronting Charles Comiskey, and when he was cross-examining some of the other White Sox officials. And so rather than stay on topic and try to get them to debate some of the finer legal points in order to win the case for his client, he was going after Charles Comiskey for things like the 1890 Players League, and Comiskey’s actions with the Brotherhood. That doesn’t have any relevance whatsoever to a breach of contract suit in 1924, but Cannon, again, having this early vision of players union, which his son then ran with, he’s trying to get Comiskey on that point, spending time on those types of questions and Comiskey’s playing career and things like that. So, there were a lot of situations, especially with Ray Cannon’s arguments, it’s like why did you go there? There wasn’t really much of a purpose, in terms of a legal strategy. But it does make for some entertaining reading. And Comiskey had a little bit of a temper and he and Cannon sparred quite a bit during some of these exchanges. So it is definitely some entertaining reading.
Jacob Pomrenke: Final question.
Q: I apologize for coming late, I was in a judge’s meeting. I really feel bad about it. The question I have you may have already taken this up. In the course of preparing this book, which I’m going to have to get, did you come to any new conclusions about Chick Gandil?
Jacob Pomrenke: Gandil wasn’t mentioned too much in this particular case. There were instances in Lefty Williams and Eddie Cicotte’s depositions in which they talked about Chick Gandil approaching them. But I don’t know that there’s anybody on the planet that believes that Chick Gandil was not guilty. I think it solidifies most people’s opinions of Chick Gandil, but that was really the only times that Gandil was referenced was when Williams and Cicotte were talking about their actions with Gandil.
Q: Was he part of the suit?
Jacob Pomrenke: No. Not at all.
Q: So he didn’t sue for his money?
Dr. David Fletcher: He didn’t even play in 1920. He didn’t have a contract. And he had at least $35,000 in the World Series he lived on. He did pretty good.
Jacob Pomrenke: I think that’s about it. We’ve got another committee meeting here so, thank you all for your time. David and I will be heading over to the exhibitors’ room for a half hour.
1 www.chicagobaseballmuseum.org The museum does not have a bricks and mortar location at this time.
2 Chicago White Sox and 1919 World Series baseball scandal collection, 1917-1929, bulk 1920-1924 Chicago History Museum Research Center, 1601 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614-6038 Primarily legal documents and correspondence between lawyers, Chicago White Sox representatives, other baseball club owners, American League officials, various baseball players, and other people; reports by private detectives; press releases; player paychecks; and handwritten notes related to various trials. Legal files include partial trial transcripts, affidavits, and depositions. Many items relate directly to the 1919 World Series scandal, but some materials deal with other disputes. The private detective reports (1919-1920, 1924) include surveillance of players Frederick McMullin (known as Fred McMullin), Arnold Gandil (known as Chick Gandil), Charles Risberg (known as Swede Risberg), Oscar Felsch (known as Happy Felsch); gamblers Carl Zork and Joe Pesch; and Marie Purcell among others.
Grand jury material (1920) includes copies of waivers of immunity, correspondence, and transcripts. These files include affidavits by gambler Carl Zork and St. Louis sportswriter Sid Keener regarding St. Louis Browns’ player Elmer Joseph Gedeon’s knowledge of the scandal. (He is called Joe Gedeon in some documents). Files related to the case in Cook County Criminal Court, People v. Cicotte, et al., contain a partial trial transcript, including testimony by Joe Jackson.
Other topics in the collection include the legal strategies, filings, affidavits, depositions, correspondence, and testimony related to Jackson’s (1922-1924) and Weaver’s (1921-1923) back pay cases. Materials include White Sox paychecks (1919) signed by Comiskey and endorsed by players Cicotte and Williams and a travel expense report (no date) written by Jackson’s wife Katie, who signed her husband’s name to it. Other files (1918-1920) include the minutes, proclamations, press releases, and correspondence of the American League board of directors while Charles Comiskey, Harry Frazee, and Jacob Ruppert controlled it; and affidavits and depositions related to the Yankees’ case against Ban Johnson (Baseball Club of New York, Inc. v. Byron B. Johnson, et al., 1919-1920). The Chicago History Museum purchased this collection on December 13, 2007, in an on-line auction conducted by Mastro Auctions of Burr Ridge, Illinois. The seller’s name and identity are unknown, and the manner in which the seller acquired the materials is also unknown (accession #: 2008.0020.1).
3 “Joe Jackson, Plaintiff, vs Chicago American League Baseball Club, Defendant: The Never-Before-Seen Trial Transcript” is the official title published by Eckhartz Press (https://eckhartzpress.com/shop/joe-jackson-vs-chicago-american-league-baseball-club-never-before-seen-trial-transcript/).
4 Lamb, William F.. Black Sox in the Courtroom (2013) McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=black+sox+in+the+courtroom&crid=22TIEZNW90FCL&sprefix=Black+Sox+in+%2Caps%2C177&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_1_13
5With the jury excused from the 1921 Cook County courtroom, Eddie Cicotte, Joe Jackson, and Lefty Williams testified that their grand jury confessions had been induced by off-the-record promises of leniency made by White Sox counsel Alfred Austrian and grand jury prosecutor Hartley Replogle. Basically, all three repudiated their September 1920 testimony but Judge Hugo Friend allowed their testimony into evidence at the 1921 criminal trial. (thus becoming part of the public record. Black Sox legal scholar Bill Lamb’s opinion is that once the Cicotte’s Jackson’s, and Williams’ testimony was given in open court, it became part of the public record regardless of the court’s ruling on its admissibility at trial.
6 Editor’s note: If Hal Chase is grouped with the gambler defendants, the superseding indictments issued in March 1921 charged eight Sox players and ten gamblers. Eleven accused – seven players and four gamblers – eventually stood trial. Hal Chase never stood trial in July 1921.
7 Editor’s Note The Weaver lawsuit, originally filed in the Chicago Municipal Court in October 1921, was the first lawsuit filed and eventually was moved to Federal Court because the White Sox were a Wisconsin corporation. The Milwaukee back pay lawsuits filed on behalf of Jackson, Felsch, and Risberg were filed subsequently on May 22, 1922. Jackson Case #64771.
8 Donald Gropman, Say It Ain’t So, Joe! The True Story of Shoeless Joe Jackson (New York: Citadel Press, 3rd ed., 2001).
9 Holtzman’s obit https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/sports/baseball/22holtzman.html
10 Hunter himself went to California to spy on Weaver, Risberg, McMullin, and Gandil but never sent any detectives to Detroit to spy on Cicotte, to New Jersey to spy on Lefty Williams, or to Savannah, Georgia, to spy on Jackson.
11 To spy on Happy Felsch, who lived in Milwaukee.
12 The original defense claim for relief was based upon the argument that Jackson had been duped into signing a contract with a 10-day termination clause that he believed had been deleted. Condonation was not pled in the Jackson complaint and was only introduced by the plaintiff at the outset of trial, over strenuous White Sox objection according to Bill Lamb’s legal analysis.
13 The Hudnall briefcase myth is a 8MO book invention by author Eliot Asinof. It does not appear in the movie version of 8MO where the stolen confessions myth is utilized. “At once, Cannon snapped at him: “The law has tried my client and acquitted him! Where, then, is any proof of guilt?” Comiskey’s attorney, George B. Hudnall, working for Alfred Austrian, immediately referred to Jackson’s confession before the Grand Jury in 1920. “What confession?” Cannon demanded. Then, incredibly, the stolen confessions, missing since the winter of 1920, suddenly reappeared in Hudnall’s briefcase! Cannon roared indignantly: “How is it that these Grand Jury records are in your hands?” Hudnall had not expected to be challenged. He paled, unable to answer, and turned toward Comiskey for assistance. They exchanged glances, and Comiskey feebly replied, “I don’t know.” “You don’t know!” Cannon exclaimed. Comiskey was ruffled. He shook his head and repeated his answer, the only answer he could give. “I’m sorry, I don’t know.” Asinof, Eliot. Eight Men Out (The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series) (p. 2290). Henry Holt and Co. Kindle Edition.)
14 Felsch did not actually testify in front of the grand jury but did “confess” to a newspaper reporter. See Defendant’s Exhibit 55: Chicago Evening American article written by Harry Reutlinger, September 29, 1920. The Felsch perjury citation was not premised on grand jury testimony as Felsch never appeared before the grand jury. Rather, it was grounded in Felsch’s witness stand repudiation of the signature that he had placed on his 1920 contract with the White Sox.
15 The perjury complaint and warrant for Jackson’s arrest was not issued by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office until some two months after the civil trial.
16 At the time of the scandal, Ray Cannon was attempting to revive the moribund players union once led by Dave Fultz, but sabotaged the effort by representing the Black Sox. Because of this, most players did not want to be associated with Cannon according to Bill Lamb.
17 Jackson’s principal expert witness was former Phillies first baseman Fred Luderus though two sportswriters also testified they saw no indication of any play that Jackson was tanking it.
18 Ed Linn was the co-author of “Veeck as In Wreck” Bill Veeck autobiography.
19 Bill Lamb Black Sox legal scholar extraordinaire postulates that a complete transcript of 1921 may never existed here is a common misperception that criminal trial records are routinely transcribed. In fact, transcription is an expensive and time-consuming process ordinarily undertaken only when a convicted defendant seeks relief from an appellate court. Acquittals, like in the Black Sox case, are not ordinarily transcribed – as the government cannot appeal a Not Guilty verdict. This has led me to suspect that the Black Sox trial transcript fragments possessed by the CHM emanate from the daily copy delivered during trial to Judge Landis’s chambers. The other possibility is that Sox criminal defense lawyers ordered daily copy of key prosecution witnesses like Harry Redmon for use during cross-examination.
20 SABR’s project to bring truth to light Eight (8) myths about the Black Sox scandal. 100 years since the 1919 World Series, new research has revealed new truths about “baseball’s darkest hour” – the Black Sox Scandal. On the centennial anniversary, SABR’s Black Sox Scandal Committee
sheds light on the biggest myths about the fixing of the 1919 World Series ( https://sabr.org/eight-myths-out). Hence title Eight Myths Out to mimic Asinof’s Eight Men Out book title.
21 Jackson actually did two pre-trial depositions in Savannah, GA, first on April 23, 1923 and second on September 4, 1923.
22 Clarification and fact check about settlement of the other suits. After the Jackson suit was dismissed, the Risberg and Felsch suits remained on Judge Gregory’s court trial schedule calendar until the suits were settled for nominal amounts in February 1925. It has been claimed that the Jackson suit was similarly settled, but there has never been any concrete evidence of that. The Weaver suit eventually settled for $3,000 in 1930.
23 The Sox’s Wisconsin residence was not a legal bar to ligation of claims against it in Illinois state courts. Rather, it provided the Sox the option of seeking removal of the Weaver suit to federal court in Illinois on diversity of citizenship grounds if that suited Sox purposes.
24 Attorney Berliner states that this statement by MacDonald what Jackson told him would not be considered hearsay. Bill Lamb opined that McDonald testimony about what Jackson told him in chambers was hearsay. But not all hearsay is inadmissible in evidence. In this instance, the McDonald testimony was admissible under a recognized exception to the hearsay bar know as an admission against (Jackson’s) penal interest.]
25 Shoeless Joe vs Charles Comiskey: A Courtroom Duel Amid A Not-So-Roaring Twenties America
26 Bill Burns also testified in detail in his October 5, 1922 deposition read in the 1924 trial on February 4, 1924 about Hal Chase’s belief that the World Series could be fixed: “Well, that it looked like a sure shot as far as throwing the games were concerned; he talked of that, how easy it would be to handle,” testified Burns about what Chase thought about his plan.
27 Cicotte got the idea for the fix from the rumors regarding the 1918 World Series. According to Cicotte in his 9/28/20 grand jury testimony, talk about throwing the World Series had ﬁrst begun among the White Sox during a late-season train ride. Envious of the $10,000 rumored to have been paid Cubs players to throw the 1918 Series, the White Sox group agreed to do the same if they could get that kind of money. (As per the notes of the Cicotte admissions at the Austrian ofﬁce taken by ASA Replogle, preserved in CHM, Black Sox ﬁle, Box 1, Folder 2, and also appears on page one of an unsigned affidavit prepared for Cicotte by prosecutors.
“I am making this statement of my own free will and accord without any promise of award of any kind or description. The way it started; we were going east on the train. The ball players were talking about somebody trying to fix the National League ball players or something like that in the World’s Series of 1918. Well anyway there was some talk about them offering $10,000 or something to throw the Cubs in the Boston Series. There was talk that somebody offered this player $10,000 or anyway the bunch of players were offered $10,000 to throw this series. This was on the train going over. Somebody made a crack about getting money, if we got into the series, to throw the series. The boys on the Club got a talking over there in New York about the fellows getting too much money and such stuff as that and said that they would go ahead and go through with it if they got this money.”
28 As the grand jury was shifting its focus to the 1919 White Sox, their owner Charles Comiskey was already deep into his own investigation of his players and their actions. Harry Grabiner kept a detailed diary of the Sox investigatory findings. [Among the names listed] In that diary was the following entry: “Gene Packard: 1918 series fixer.” Despite the original impetus for the grand jury involving the Cubs August 1920 game against the Phillies, and the allegations about the 1918 Series, the grand jury would ultimately deliver indictments only related to players and gamblers various baseball pool operators involved in the 1919 Series. AL President Ban Johnson was aware during the 1918 season of a plot to fix the World Series by a St. Louis Gambler named Henry “Kid” Becker who had the connection to Gene Packard, [who was] a pitcher for the 1918 Cardinals. Johnson even went to American League owners looking for money to hire investigators, but was rebuffed. In his testimony during the 1924 Jackson trial Grabiner never referred to his diary.
Many of those reports also suggest that Becker abandoned his plan because he also couldn’t raise the money to fix the 1918 Series. Becker and his associates were also alleged to be involved with Arnold Rothstein in the 1919 fix, though Becker himself was murdered before that plot came to fruition. Gambler defendant Carl Zork was a reputed Becker acolyte.
The Joe Jackson vs Chicago American League, Never-Before-Seen Trial Transcript book, is now available through Eckhartz Press.