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Sports Law

1919 Black Sox Scandal

The 1919 Black Sox scandal is the most famous example of athletes conspiring with gamblers to fix the outcome of a sporting event. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were charged with taking bribes to lose the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The most prominent player charged was "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, the star outfielder for the White Sox. It was alleged that the players received $70,000 to $100,000 for losing the World Series five games to three.

During the World Series, a number of sportswriters suspected that White Sox players were throwing the games. The writers published their charges after the series ended, but by the beginning of the 1920 BASEBALL season, it appeared nothing would come of the allegations. However, a federal GRAND JURY, presided by Judge KENESAW MOUNTAIN LANDIS, was impaneled in September 1920. Within days, four of the players, including Jackson, admitted that they had taken bribes to lose games in the 1919 series. The eight players were indicted.

The team suspended the players, and they went on trial in the summer of 1921. They were acquitted on insufficient evidence, under suspicious circumstances. Key pieces of evidence were missing from the grand jury files, including the players' confessions. No gamblers were ever brought to trial for BRIBERY, though it was alleged that New York RACKETEER Arnold Rothstein was behind the plan to fix the World Series.

Major league baseball had named Landis commissioner of baseball in 1921, in an attempt to restore the integrity of the game. The day after the eight White Sox players were acquitted, Landis banned them from baseball for life.


Asinof, Eliot. 1987. Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series. New York: H. Holt.

Cook, William A. 2001. The 1919 World Series: What Really Happened? Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.

Nathan, Daniel A. 2003. Saying It's So: A Cultural History of the Black Sox Scandal. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.


Landis, Kenesaw Mountain.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Special power to Strategic Lawsuits against Public ParticipationSports Law - Come Back, Shane: The Movement Of Professional Sports Teams, Amateur Athletes, 1919 Black Sox Scandal