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1930s & Earlier / 1919 Black Sox Scandal
The worst sports scandal in American history revolved around the 1919 Chicago White Sox. The White Sox won their second American League pennant in three years and were heavily favored to beat the National League champion Cincinnati Reds in the best-of-nine World Series. But, lo and behold, the Reds won in eight games. Reporters and baseball insiders who watched the games knew something was amiss. White Sox pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, the team's two aces, combined for all five Chicago losses. Their pitches seemed to lack zip. The White Sox also made uncharacteristic errors in the field and amateurish mental mistakes. It took nearly a year for evidence to surface that the eight of the White Sox had thrown the Series for gamblers. The press dubbed them the 'Black Sox,' and the eight were banned from pro baseball. Among them was the great Shoeless Joe Jackson, whose .356 career batting average is the third best ever. In order to restore the public's faith in Major League Baseball, Judge Kenesaw M. Landis was hired by the 16 team owners to serve as the sport's commissioner. He was given a lifetime contract and extraordinary powers. The White Sox did not play in another World Series until 1959.