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"Black Sox" Trial: 1921

Cicotte Hits First Batter

In the first inning of game one, White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte faced leadoff batter Maurice Rath. Famed for his pinpoint control, Cicotte had won 29 games with a 1.82 ERA (earned run average) in the regular season. Only Walter Johnson was considered a better pitcher. Cicotte hit Rath smack between the shoulder blades, and by the end of the fourth inning he had given up seven hits and six runs. The Reds won, 9 to 1.

In game two, Chicago's "Lefty" Williams, who had a 23-11 record in a league-leading 40 starts, uncharacteristically walked six and struck out only one. The Sox lost, 4 to 2.

Dickie Kerr won game three for Chicago with a three-hit shutout. Cicotte lost game four in another three-hit shutout, forChicagoand the Reds took game five with series' third successive three-hit shutout. Game six saw Williams give up three hits and a walk in a four-run sixth inning that also brought a remarkably unusual throwing error by center fielder "Happy" Felsch. The Reds won again, 5 to 0.

Kerr and Cicotte won games six and seven for the Sox. But Williams, pitching game eight, was pulled in the first inning after yielding two singles and two doubles with only one out. "Shoeless Joe" Jackson—who, with a lifetime average of. 356 was considered a hitter second only to Ty Cobb-—homered and doubled to no avail. The Reds won, 10 to 5, to take the series, 5 to 3.

Rumors began to spread about the reasons for Chicago's loss. Sportswriters asked how come Cicotte, an ace at dusting batters, hit leadoff man Rath and blew that opening game? How could Williams, a 23-game winner, lose all 3 of his series' games? Could it be true that White Sox owner Charlie Comiskey paid his players so little they would stoop to accepting bribes? Comiskey was a known tightwad who charged his players 25 cents for cleaning their uniforms. Hence, they were called the "Black Sox" because, refusing to pay, they played in dirty outfits.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940"Black Sox" Trial: 1921 - Cicotte Hits First Batter, "say It Ain't So, Joe", A Double, Double Cross