I could not offer definitive proof that the series had been tainted, but it was obvious that there was no shortage of financial incentive for players on both teams. Additionally, the Cubs mystified many sportswriters with their mistakes in the field, at the plate and on the bases. Two days ago, some news surfaced that may move the 1918 mystery closer to being solved.
First, I started my "investigation" based on notes written after the the 1919 World Series by White Sox secretary Harry Grabiner, Charles Comiskey's right-hand man. The notes were discovered in 1963, resting in -- literally -- a hole in the wall in a storage room in Comiskey Park.
Ed Linn quoted extensively from them in "The Hustler's Handbook", a book he wrote with Bill Veeck. The notes mostly dealt with what White Sox management knew about the 1919 World Series -- they knew a lot, by the way, and they knew it before the series even began -- but Grabiner also listed 27 players he believed were crooked -- Hall of Famers Grover Cleveland Alexander and Rabbit Maranville, among them. Grabiner also wrote this:
Gene Packard: 1918 Series fixerI spoke with Linn during my research, but I was unable to track down the notes. Well, Grabiner's diary has been found!
The Sporting News reported on Saturday that the Chicago Historical Society won an auction last December for the rights to documents pertaining to the 1919 White Sox. Grabiner's notes are in those papers. But that's not all!
Check out this paragraph from TSN:
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.Cicotte says the White Sox got the idea to throw the 1919 World Series from the Cubs, who had thrown the 1918 World Series to the Red Sox!
Having spent six years researching and writing my book, that's a "HOLY SHIT" moment if there ever was one.
A reporter from the Boston Herald told me this afternoon that the Cicotte affidavit is only two pages long. She was unable to get a picture of the document.
Packard played with the 1916 Cubs and some of his former teammates were still with the team in 1918. He also seems to have crossed paths with many players who were either suspected of being crooked or were banned from the game. However, considering the depth of corruption in baseball at that time, Packard may not have been unique in that regard.
There was also a huge incentive for the players to get as much money as they could during the Series. No one knew that World War I would end two months after the Red Sox clinched the series. It was all but certain that there would be no major league baseball in 1919. Every player would be losing a significant portion of his income and they had no idea when they might be playing ball again. In addition, the players felt they had been screwed over by the National Commission regarding their winning and losing shares. With attendance down in 1918, the shares were roughly one-quarter of what they had been the previous year. Both teams delayed the start of Game 5, hoping to get a resolution to the matter.