You may be surprised to learn the Black Sox Scandal — the fixing of the 1919 World Series — is a cold case, not a closed case.
Ever since Eliot Asinof’s Eight Men Out was first published a half-century ago, baseball fans have embraced his tale of talented but disgruntled Chicago White Sox ballplayers, who were underpaid and poorly treated by owner Charles Comiskey, then seduced by big-city gamblers to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Most of us first learned about the Black Sox Scandal through Eight Men Out, Asinof’s best-selling 1963 book or John Sayles’s 1988 film of the same name. But we’ve learned a lot more about this story in the last 100 years and new evidence has cast doubt on many of the crucial details in Eight Men Out.
The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) set out to correct the historical record with its Eight Myths Out project, meticulously documenting the biggest misconceptions about the fixed World Series and providing up-to-date research that fundamentally reshapes our understanding of what really happened in baseball’s “darkest hour.”
The story of Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, and the corruption of the White Sox has made a lasting mark in popular culture, primarily through Eight Men Out and also the beloved film Field of Dreams, which was adapted from W.P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe. Elements of the Black Sox story have popped up in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, The Godfather films, and hit television shows like The Simpsons and Mad Men.