So get this: the Sporting News claims to have unearthed evidence that the Chicago Cubs may have taken a dive in the 1918 World Series, one year before the Chicago White Sox made the practice fashionable. Yes, instead of 100 years of frustration, the Cubs could be on the verge of a mere 90-year futility streak. Their fans could be holding their heads high right now! But O cruel fate decreed it not so.
Now, it cannot be said for certain that gamblers got to the '18 Cubs. But Eddie Cicotte, pitcher and one of the eight White Sox outcasts from the '19 World Series, did say in a newly found affidavit he gave to the 1920 Cook County grand jury that the Cubs influenced the Black Sox. Cicotte said the notion of throwing a World Series first came up when the White Sox were on a train to New York. The team was discussing the previous year's World Series, which had been fixed, according to players. Some members of the Sox tried to figure how many players it would take to throw a Series. From that conversation, Cicotte said, a scandal was born.
In another piece of evidence found by the Sporting News, a faded photo of a Cubs fan — Mordecai Bartman — is seen knocking a ball from the glove of a Cubs outfielder during a crucial play in the ninth inning.
It's my opinion that every team back then was on the take; the World Series each year until about 1927 being this enormous game of lowball, with teams vying to come up with the most creative ways to lose and enjoy big mob paydays.
The World Series The Cubs (Maybe) Gave Away [The Sporting News]