Some subjects, no matter how much time passes, will always be allowed to produce new information. The Black Sox scandal almost a century later is still raising questions among fans and historians alike. Now we have another book out on the market that helps put to rest some of the questions and clarify some of the finer points of the scandal.
Happy Felsch, was the veteran Center Fielder on that ill fated 1919 Chicago White Sox team. A man who was no stranger to battles with owner Charles Comisky and his penny pinching ways, Felsch was looking to get what he deserved financially from the game. Historians have been unsure if his participation was voluntary or out of fear of reprisal by local gamblers. Either way he was implicated in the throwing of the World Series.
Felsch was always the most vocal of the participants after the scandal broke and open to talking about it. Rathkamp’s book looks at a few of the interviews that Happy Felsch gave with some writers in subsequent years and attempts to connect the dots of the Black Sox scandal. It is a valiant attempt at something that has been attempted many times before.
What this book does is offer another point of view from one of those involved. We have several books on Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver and those that analyze the course of events and the entire World Series, but not much more. For me it was nice to get a different perspective from a new player in this scandal. Through these interviews that occurred more than 50 years ago now, Felsch gives snippets of his view of the events and what transpired and to some degree why he was innocent.
Now here is my problem with the entire Black Sox scandal. We are at this point, working with documented history from almost a century ago. We are interpreting conversations and interviews that no one who walks this earth at this point were a part of and are putting our own spin on these events. Our spin being influenced by our current views and not those of a century ago. So are we really interpreting their comments as they intended? For that I am not so sure. But it takes each reader to interpret what this book offers to the end subject on their own. I myself like this book on its own, because it offers a new perspective on the subject, but I am starting to wonder when have we maxed out and learned all we will be able to about the Black Sox scandal?
If you are a fan of this era or the scandal itself, check the book out, I don’t think you will be disappointed.
You can get this book from the nice folks at McFarland
I have of late, spent a lot of time looking at books that go back over a century in baseball history. Sometimes the books I have on hand steer the blog more than I ever do. When you go back this far in history, it is a daunting task to try and answer some question. Record keeping was not even close to the standards that it is today, and the game as a whole created some questionable outcomes. So I am not really sure how an author would even try and research something from this era and feel confident in the outcomes. As a baseball community I think we have accepted as accurate what is in the record books but it is still open to some questions no matter who it is. Rick Huhn has in the past written books from this era and has done an admirable job with the, so with today’s book I am expecting more of the same.
For those not familiar with this story, auto magnate Hugh Chalmers offered a new Chalmers automobile to the winner of the 1910 batting championship. By today’s standards a car is no big deal but by 1910 standards, cars were new fangled contraptions that were not commonplace. So for the players involved this was a big deal.
The long in the short of it is that the race came down between Cleveland’s Nap Lajoie and Detroit’s Ty Cobb. There was also some controversy about record keeping for both players at the time. In the end, American League President Ban Johnson made the final decision and awarded the car to Ty Cobb. Still surrounded in controversy to this day no one is sure who really one, but Cobb got the car.
Rick Huhn does a really good job of relaying to the reader the course of events of 1910. Individual game details, scoring decisions and events all paint a vivid picture for the reader. He also details the aftermath of Ban Johnson’s decision and court depositions that show the mess that baseball was in during that time period. It also gives the reader a real good idea of how fixed baseball was during that time period and how it could have been human error, judgement calls or just plains and simple, the fix was in for the car’s winner that caused this giant mess.
The passage of 100 years clouds some of the details, but the author does a nice job throughout the whole book giving the reader what is to believed to be the complete story. It is something that we prior to this book did not have great clarification on. This book does that job very well and hopefully can lay to rest the true events of the 1910 season.
If you have an interest in this era check this book out. It is another book that gives a good feel of what really was going on in baseball during this era. It also is another book that clarifies some of the Ty Cobb myths. That is not its main intention, but it is a good side effect. You just need to be a fan of baseball history to enjoy this one, it slows down a little bit at the mid point in the book, when it gets bogged down in the court proceedings. But once you are through that it picks back up and completes its mission.
You can get this book from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press
It’s that time of year where the playoffs are in full swing and the World Series is right around the corner. With the events over the next few weeks looming it is a time to write another chapter in the history books as well as reflecting on past seasons. The World Series has always been a source of great memories, as well as a few not so great moments. Some of those not so great moments have helped shape the game we all know today. The biggest one that has a World Series tie-in is the 1919 Black Sox scandal. It is an event that shook baseball to its core and todays book takes a hard look at what really happened almost 100 years ago.
The 1919 White Sox were approached by gamblers to throw the World Series. Just about every baseball fan is familiar with the story, but its lasting effects have been felt throughout the game for almost a century. This particular series brought gambling to the forefront in baseball and essentially destroyed almost all of the credibility the game had with the general public. It also made the scape goat of the series Shoeless Joe Jackson a household name for generations to come.
Charles Fountain takes a new and refreshing approach to the Black Sox scandal. The author removes the Hollywood glamorization of the Black Sox scandal and gives the reader the actual facts about what happened. He looks at the events from players, management and the gamblers aspects and paints a vivid picture for the readers of actual events. The details are so good in this book the reader can almost get the feeling they are a fly on the wall when all of this takes place. It does clarify some of the details that may have gotten blurred through the passage of time.
There are other books out there that take a look at the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Some do a good job and some take poetic license if you will and blur the details. Thankfully, this one falls into the prior category and is one of the better books on the market. It forces the reader to look at the details objectively and to form some of their own opinions. The one interesting aspect is that you can see where the events helped transform todays game into what it is. You can see how leagues changed and the end result was the American League we now know.
For fans who fancy themselves novice historians of the game, this book will be eye-opening and enjoyable. Pete Rose might even want to take a look at this one because he can see all the events that led up to the rules that banished him from baseball. It’s nice to see a book with fresh perspective almost a full century after the fact.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Oxford University Press