Gambling and Baseball...This Day In History

Published Thursday, September 28, 2017 -
Gambling and Baseball...This Day In History

On this day many years ago gambling and sports were on a collision course when eight Chicago White Sox baseball players were indicted for fixing the 1919 World Series. Known as the "Black Sox scandal,”  it made it clear that there was something wrong with the system. In the days when players were being paid very little the club owners were reaping the benefits of players locked into contracts and with no hope of making more money players went rogue and cheated despite the risk. Some Chicago White Sox team members were accused of intentionally losing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein.

Of the eight baseball players indicted was "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, a star outfielder and hitter confessed in sworn grand jury testimony to receiving $5,000 cash from the gambling syndicate. He later recanted his confession, protesting his innocence to no effect until he died in 1951. The extent of Jackson's collaboration with the match fix is still controversial. The appointment of the first baseball commissioner was the result of the scandal but the motivations behind the creation of the office were more than a mere desire to rebuild public relations and restore the lost integrity of baseball. Federal Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, was given nearly unlimited authority to act in the "best interests of baseball"

It is no wonder there are problems in the sports betting industry still today with not just match fixing being an issue facing Major League Baseball but as is witnessed many times in other sports the use of performance enhancing drugs. The indefinite suspensions imposed by Landis remain the most to be imposed all at once in the history of organized baseball, it was the most suspensions of any duration to be imposed until 2013 when thirteen baseball player suspensions of between 50 and 211 games were announced following the doping-related Biogenesis scandal.

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