The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball (Hardback)Charles Fountain (author)
Hardback 296 Pages / Published: 29/10/2015
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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, an a nationwide 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 morality play, 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 American mythology. 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 the clumsy 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 how sweeping 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 relevance today.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 296
Weight: 568 g
Dimensions: 242 x 171 x 27 mm
"Someone, or a few someones, conceived of fixing the 1919 World Series. That much we know. Charles Fountain says no one knows for certain just who, or which White Sox players laid down and how often. So this is a larger story, leading to a cover-up, featuring a fascinating cast of characters, including Swede Risberg's girlfriend and the mysterious 'Operative 11.' What we learn is that, given the climate of the times, a fix like this was inevitable. We also learn that Mr. Fountain has stitched together a great, and necessary, read for all baseball fans."--Bob Ryan, The Boston Globe, ESPN
"With masterful investigative reporting skills and a sportswriter's eye for the bon mot, Charles Fountain has given us in The Betrayal incredible insights into one of the most extraordinary scandals in professional sports history. Not only does Fountain uncover bountiful new details about what happened and why but also he makes clear why Major League Baseball in the 21st century remains an exclusive club of wealthy owners still ruled by an all-powerful commissioner determined to maintain the status quo. A tour-de-force in every way."--William D. Cohan, author of The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities
"Mr. Fountain's book is a gripping story, populated by unforgettable characters deftly drawn for modern readers."--Wall Street Journal
"What Fountain does so well is provide the surrounding circumstances - the background to the sport, the gambling, the owners' greed, the timorous baseball front office, the shafting of the players, all the temptations that coax players to do wrong to gain an edge and make more money - at once shedding light on what is known but especially what has been ignored or underappreciated. The game-fixing routines - which date back to the Civil War - are stories in themselves, and Fountain reports it all...The scandal was a game-shattering event and cleansed baseball for a moment. Fountain writes of it with professional lan, which means letting the facts not speak but sing."--Kirkus
"This latest work by Fountain puts an interesting spin on a well-trodden topic...compelling narrative..."--Library Journal
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