Watch Rare Footage Of The Black Sox Throwing The 1919 World Series

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What we have here is, to my knowledge, the best* surviving footage of the 1919 World Series. It's pretty amazing, not least because it allows you to watch the infamous Black Sox actually throwing a game.

As you may recall if you've read the shoddily researched book Eight Men Out or seen the well-done John Sayles movie based on it, one of the ringleaders of the scheme to throw the World Series at the behest of a gambling syndicate was ace Eddie Cicotte, the only player smart enough to demand his payoff upfront. (He got $10,000, placed under his pillow on the eve of the Series. That's about $137,000 in today's money, though it might be better thought of as twice his 1919 salary.) He famously hit the first batter he faced in the first game of the Series as a signal that the fix was on and then allowed six runs, something he'd done only twice in 35 starts that year.


If you go to the 3:20 mark in the video, you'll see the lowlights of Cicotte's five-run fourth inning. (At one point, interestingly, a ball is hit on the infield and he neither goes for it nor tries to back up a base.) If you're a certain kind of fan, this is an astonishing thing to see; the Black Sox were neither the first nor the only team to collude with gamblers, and may not have been the first to throw World Series games, but this was the precise moment when the problem became too obvious to ignore, and which forced baseball to decide whether or not it would be a level game. It's right there with Jackie Robinson's debut among the most significant moments in the game's history.


There's a lot more here that's interesting to see, especially footage of a massive New York crowd following the game, which was being played in Cincinnati, in real time via a mechanical scoreboard whose operator got the results by telegraph. What might be most remarkable, though, is that we have this footage at all. It was part of a cache of newsreels from the Canadian Yukon that were at one point used to fill in a swimming pool that was being converted into a hockey rink. The newsreels were discovered in 1978 and sat in an archive, and it was only this year that a White Sox fan working on a documentary about the lost films stumbled onto this one. Good luck for him, and better luck for us.


[via Eye on Baseball]